There’s no escaping it, collectables is pretty much the current buzzword of the toy industry.
From old favourites like Pokémon to break-through new properties such as MGA’s LOL Surprise to global phenomenon such as Shopkins, every where you turn, there appears to be something to collect.
Back in 2016, the US collectables market grew by 33 per cent, racking up $1.8 billion in sales, while both NPD and the BTHA reported that the UK’s growth of 6.3 per cent was largely driven by the sector.
The collectables market continued to experience double-digit growth in the first half of this year, too. Up by 15 per cent, increases were helped by the international popularity of LOL Surprise, Hatchimals from Spin Master among a cacophony of other releases.
Back in July, ToyNews reported that many of the world’s leading toy manufacturers are now betting big on the collectables market, spurred by its popularity over the previous year.
But with so many properties in the space, is it in danger of over-population? Will the modern day consumer eventually suffer from that affliction so charmingly labelled Collectables Fatigue by our US cousins?
Moose Toys is a globally revered specialist in the collectables sector, having seen sweeping success with Shopkins, Grossery Gang and more. The firm has often been credited with kick-starting the spike in the category four years ago, reinvigorating a sector that had seemingly dropped off with the then decline of Moshi Monsters.
Since then, the market has been inundated with competitors, each looking to take a slice of this very tempting pie.
“The space is certainly becoming more competitive,” Paul Solomon, co-CEO of Moose Toys tells ToyNews. “However collecting represents a classic play pattern that will never diminish. Parents continue to find that skills kids learn from collecting: counting, swapping are imperative to their development.
“As the sector continues to grow, kids will always find new ways to collect, trade and play with their collectable toys.
“So long as brands are unique and original, they will always get cut through in a crowded market.”
Shopkins is the prime example of securing longevity and ‘cut through’ in the increasingly populated space. Now in its ninth season, the property has developed an extensive licensing programme around the brand, transforming it into a ‘fully-fledged’ franchise with movies, global licensing deals, apps and webisodes dedicated to the brand.
You’d be forgiven for drawing parallels between Shopkins and its predecessor, Moshi Monsters.
It’s no secret that Moshi creators Mind Candy endured a turbulent few years, but with an executive reshuffle and a new approach to the market, is ready to make its comeback. However, avoiding the path Mind Candy trod will be a priority for the brands emerging in the collectables space of today. But just how easy is it to do?
“The key for us is continually creating strong and engaging content. We put a lot of focus on digital platforms because this is where our fans are,” continues Solomon.
“Moose works closely with leading YouTube influencers to create unique, authentic and engaging customer experiences for our fans. We also host our own YouTube channels, create movies, webisodes and music and develop mobile apps.
“We see what is happening in the market, we track trends and observe how play patterns are changing all the time. This ensures that we remain competitive and we are lucky that as a business, we are agile enough to amend our strategies quickly if necessary.”
There’s no denying that the collectables market will always be at the mercy of the zeitgeist and peaks and troughs in the space can only be expected. However, the popular belief remains in the play pattern that collecting promotes.
“It will continue to evolve and as it does, new trends will emerge,” says Solomon. “But collectables is in our DNA. We have a team that works hard to create brands that we know are going to disrupt the market.
“At Moose, we will continue to focus on innovation and development of products we know will cut through in the crowded market.”
From one of the leading names in the market to new break-through lines, it looks like collecting will remain a staple of the global toy industry for quite some time.