The next hit toy will not be a bolt out of the blue, but will be something based on the well-loved, well-worn, and will ring of nostalgia, rang the predictions from London’s own toy design studio, FUSE at this week’s Toy and Game Design Conference.
Delivering a talk on innovation in the toy industry at this year’s conference – organised by Mojo Nation and held at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge – Pete Cartlidge, a partner at FUSE London, highlighted to attendees why it was important not to forget the past when designing toys for the future.
Citing the past as a ‘treasure trove of ideas for innovation in the toy space,’ Cartlidge – who works with the London team responsible for the reinvigoration of some of the industry’s biggest franchises, including Barbie and My Little Pony – went on to explain just why toys today present such a nostalgic note for parents.
“The past is what informs new products and the launches we see today – take Polly Pocket, for example, which was a big big toy franchise, and back again today with Mattel’s latest launch,” Cartlidge said to an audience of toy inventors, retail buyers, and big name manufacturers such as Hasbro.
“Toy Story 4 was a successful chapter stuffed with the toys of yesteryear, and everybody can relate to toys that parents played with – that’s what makes retailers eager to sign up for new programmes year on year.”
Cartlidge argued that it is nostalgia that fuels consumer buying habits at retail.
“The answer is because it’s what parents know and loved as children themselves. That’s why so much today, big brands that have been around for generations are still so powerful, and why, even in new launch concepts, you’ll still find a hint of the nostalgic play pattern or ideas behind them,” Cartlidge continued.
“MGA can attribute a lot of the successes of LOL Surprise to pass the parcel, while Moose Toys’ Treasure X comes from an inventor programme and brings relatable play patterns – treasure hunting and pirates – to kids today. Both have a good shot for longevity in this market and prove that there’s room for more.”
The toy design specialist pushed the argument of retrospection further still when he highlighted the success FUSE has seen with its range of Kumi products, a range of art and craft products inspired by the ancient Japanese art of finger braiding.
“Familiarity does not always breed contempt,” said Cartlidge. “Look at the history of recent brands – the next hit toy will be something based on the well-loved, and well-worn. Toy companies are waiting for brands to come back and give them a valuable head start in developing content.”