The New York Toy Fair 2023 returned after a three-year hiatus, creating a palpable buzz in the Big Apple. This premier industry event featured hundreds of exhibitors showcasing new products and prototypes, making it one of the most significant gatherings for toy enthusiasts.
Plush toys were a dominant presence at the New York Toy Fair 2023. TY’s Beanie Babies caught attention with their playful takes on movie posters and famous paintings, including iconic artworks like Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and Wood’s “American Gothic.” These plushies added a touch of humor and artistry to the event. Jazwares, LLC, claimed the Plush Toy of the Year and Collectible of the Year awards with their popular Squishmallows, which continued to enchant attendees. Just Play introduced interactivity to plushies with the Elmo Slide tou that can sing and dance, which even had an accompanying flash mob that drew enthusiastic crowds. In addition to these highlights, other exhibitors showcased innovative plushie concepts. Moon Pals presented weighted plushies, designed to reduce anxiety, while Starpony’s Mewaii Loooong offered plushies in various lengths, including an impressive 52-inch version.
New York Toy Fair 2023 featured a resurgence of movie-related toys. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” took the spotlight, with various companies, including Playmates, Super Impulse, and The Loyal Subjects, expanding their TMNT lines. Barbie remained a strong contender, with licensing agreements in place to capitalize on the popularity of the recent movie release. “Lilo and Stitch” also garnered attention as an immensely popular license, particularly as Disney prepared for the release of its live-action adaptation.
Edutainment and tech toys
Edutainment, the fusion of education and entertainment, played a significant role at the New York Toy Fair 2023. Tech-driven toys designed to educate and entertain were prominent throughout the event. Recognizable brands like Lexibook, Tonies, and VTech displayed their licensed lines, emphasizing both fun and learning. The intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and toys was a standout toy trend. Google searches related to AI have increased in the last few years, highlighting the growing interest in this field. Several companies unveiled AI-powered products at the event. Thames & Kosmos introduced KAI (Kosmos Artificial Intelligence), an AI robot that helps children understand AI concepts by responding to audio and visual commands. WowWee’s Dog-E, a robotic dog, allowed family members to interact with unique profiles, showcasing AI’s potential for personalization. Miko, a robotics brand, integrated AI into its entire product range, from companion robots to an AI-powered chess game. Arizona GameGo introduced Monkey Says Baa?, a card game entirely driven by AI, combining elements of Snap and Simon Says. The toy industry’s exploration of AI integration is a toy trend worth monitoring in the coming years.
Collectibles continued to hold their appeal at the New York Toy Fair 2023. Moose Toys showcased its Magic Mixies line, offering a unique blend of experiments and surprises to reveal plush toys or figures. Just Play expanded its Doorables line, featuring hidden surprise mini figures in collectible packs. Licensed collectibles were everywhere across the show floor. The Loyal Subjects presented TMNT action figures bundled with comic books, offering a delightful blend of nostalgia and new adventures. Super Impulse introduced Pop Tater potato heads featuring beloved licensed characters like Bob Ross and Chucky. Collectible “Fast & Furious” cars and CAPCOM figures from Jada Toys added diversity to the world of collectibles.
Dara Busch is Co-CEO of 5WPR.