Boy wonders

The boys sector is dominated by licensed properties, with the all-conquering Ben 10 topping the charts for over a year and showing no signs of abating. This year sees yet more strong movies with the new Transformers, Wolverine and Terminator films arriving in the summer. ToyNews views what?s on offer....
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Boy’s toys have been dominating the traditional toy market for much of the last year with sales excluding video games reaching £1.58bn in 2008 (source: NPD Consumer Panel).

Out of the top 15 items sold last year seven were aimed specifically at boys (compared to one for girls and four for Infant & Preschool). Boy’s toy sales reach a high at ages 2-5yrs before video games start to take over by ages 10-11yrs.

Licenses are particularly important to the boys market with blockbuster films such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones having a massive impact on the market in the last year. In addition, strong TV licenses from Ben 10 also have ongoing appeal for boys. A Ben 10 item has been the best selling item in Total Toys for seven of the last 12 months. Indeed, looking ahead to the rest of 2009 there seems to be the potential for another strong licensed year for Boys with the Transformers sequel, X-Men Wolverine, Dragon Ball, Terminator Salvation and Star Trek all still to be released.

Action figures are without doubt the biggest boys category and also the most heavily licensed, with 83 per cent of the category licensed. While the action figures themselves make up most of the market, the biggest growth throughout 2008 came from the accessories and role play. Items such as Ben 10’s Omnitrix watch, Indiana Jones’s Whip and Star Wars Clone Wars Voice changers were incredibly popular. One of the biggest launches in Action Figures for years will be Character’s MOD Armed Forces Action Figures and Accessories this summer. It will be interesting to see how successful this range is and whether it could challenge Ben 10’s dominance of the market.

Vehicles (the number two boys category) has had a tough year with powered vehicles and
playsets and accessories declining. Mini vehicles have grown, driven by Disney’s Cars, the top Property in total vehicles, outselling all other vehicle properties. With Cars, Matchbox and Hot Wheels, Mattel dominates the vehicles category.

One of the fastest growing categories in the last year has been Building sets. Of all spend on traditional toys, 14 per cent of sales with 5-9 and 10-14 year old boys was spent on this category. Lego has dominated this sector with all top 20 best selling items belonging to them. The highest non-Lego item reaches number 27 in the best selling list. All Lego ranges grew last year with Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones faring particularly well with added support from both the film releases last year and individual Lego based video games. Lego growth looks set to continue this year with the new Power Miners range one of the fastest growing new properties and the purchase of additional licenses from Disney to come later in the year. Meccano has also had a strong year with the added play value driving many Meccano items to perform well.

Boys look set to continue dominance of the Toy market into 2009 with larger ranges and more excitement in terms of licenses, skus and variety, but also additional competition and turnover.

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