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The Next Big Thing: All The Toys Kids Will Be Begging For This Season

Big toy trends for little toy enthusiasts.

Megan Baldwin · 7 months ago

  • toy

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Heeral Chhibber / CAMP

Whether you’re a parent, a kid, or a parent who was once a kid, you’ve probably wondered how certain toys become THAT toy. Think of the Tickle Me Elmo effect: that toy every kid wants, begs for, saves her allowance for, until it’s inevitably super-played out. When it comes to predicting the toy trend curve, we don’t have the magic formula here at Camp. But we do have a lot of kid-intel about what’s actually fun to play with.

In time for the new year, we’ve done boatloads of research (and consulted our Ouija boards) to come up with the top ten toy trends we’re pretty certain will be very big with kids this season … or at least very fun to play with.

Trend #1: Huge Hulking Toys

Maisonette

Maisonette

In 2020, cabin fever-crazed families packed up and moved to the ‘burbs. Now with more space to spread out (and less stuff to do) super-sized kids toys are about to blow up (literally). From inflatable bounce castles to play campers and dollhouses that are two stories larger than your first apartment, the kids are coming for your square footage with toys that will celebrate what it means to have a yard and garage … more space for their stuff.

The Evidence:

Trend #2: 2020, Take Two

2020 was the year where everything and nothing happened. The Olympics were postponed, blockbuster movies were shelved, and all the toys your kids didn’t know they wanted were put on hold. In 2021, look for entertainment to make a comeback (fingers crossed) with major releases like Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, Marvel’s Eternals, and Pixar’s Luca. With that we’ll see fresh action figures, a new animated hero from Disney, and if things go according to plan, all the Olympics swag that never quite made it to stores.

The Evidence:

Trend #3: Waldorf Salad

hero

Raduga Grez

With its natural, non-commercial and non-electronic ethos, the Waldorf Method paints a beautiful picture of childhood that feels immune to the stresses of this year. No wonder it looks so appealing (and Instagrammable). With technology becoming a bigger part of how kids are raised and schooled, 2021 sees hip, new(ish) parents trying their hardest to push free play, natural materials, and humanizing tech, like one of our favorite new toys: Tonies. And while only time will tell if kids will actually shelve the plastics in favor of natural fiber dolls, at least the Waldorf-ian goods are pretty enough to store on the mantle.

The Evidence:

Trend #4: Brain Drain

Because they’re fundamentally opposites… when school and home turned into one space, fun got pushed out. In 2021, it’s back and more fun than ever. The “Trojan Horse” educational toys that blend teaching moments with play are replaced by toys that are unabashedly ALL FUN. Think cute, interactive animals like Juno the Baby Elephant, all types of squishy, squeezy stuff, and big bad remote control vehicles. Sure, these toys won’t teach your kid to code, but sometimes kids just want to have fun and drive a monster truck over a sibling’s foot.

The Evidence:

Trend #5: Where the Wild Kids Are

V-Fire

V-Fire

After spending the winter indoors, parents are ready to spring into 2021 and get their kids back outside. But if families were all about doing outdoorsy activities together last spring and summer, this year things are sure to get a little wilder and less structured. Yes, biking is still a thing, and we’re not over roller skates, but think even dirtier and campier. From forest schools to mud-making labs, new products give kids freedom to roam, make friends with animals, and show them that everyone loves to play outside.

The Evidence:

Trend #6: the Family That Plays Together

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Jiggy Puzzles

Families are spending more time than ever together at home. And that’s not changing anytime soon. With this shift in the home dynamic, toy brands saw a major uptick in games, puzzles, and activities that bring the whole family together to play. In 2021, this trend gets remixed and expanded on with expansion pack drops, classic game rule remixes, and new multi-player editions. And apologies to Milton (and Bradley), puzzles will be disrupted and online shop-ified, so prepare to get Jiggy with it.

The Evidence:

Trend #7: Beyond Inclusive

MyLifeAsGymnast

My Life As

Play has always been one of the most important ways of teaching kids about the world. 2020 proved there was work to be done to make play more diverse, equitable, and representative of all the amazing kids out there. This year, playtime gets more inclusive with more Black and Brown-owned businesses creating toys, books, and games that celebrate the Black experience. More than that, dolls like the My Life As Autism Advocate doll introduce kids to different experiences and help celebrate kindness and acceptance. At Camp, we’re committed to introducing diverse, independent businesses into our store and celebrating ALL families through play.

The Evidence:

Trend #8: The Unboxing Experience

Like the influencers who inspired it, the unboxing experience is the toy trend that won’t go away. Early on, unboxing toys came in opaque packaging that kept you from knowing what you got until you opened them up. This year, the reveal is the biggest deal of all. Take last year’s L.O.L. Surprise! Lights Glitter doll, which used a blacklight to reveal even more outfit and hair changes. Expect even more over-the-top reveals from L.O.L. Surprise! and brands like Blume Baby and Spin Master, maker of the self-unboxing monster truck, the Animal.

The Evidence:

Trend #9: the Kids Are Alright

Mattel

Mattel

To state the obvious, 2020 stressed a lot of us out. And kids weren’t spared from the anxiety. The good news: toys stepped up to help kids cope, explore their emotions, sleep better, and even learn to breathe. In 2021, there will be even more movement in the mindfulness and emotional intelligence space for kids, from books about empathy, to habit trackers, to sleepy-time tools. Look for pretend play to take on importance as a tool for families to explore tough topics, from Mattel’s #thankyouheroes collection to Advo-kits.

The Evidence:

Trend #10: It’s What Inside That Counts

Lego

Lego

The hard fact: toys aren’t often great for the environment. In 2021, we’re all becoming more aware and accountable for our individual footprint and taking steps to change things, including how we play. Sustainable toy makers are cropping up with plastic alternatives like bamboo and sugarcane. Camp favorite Green Toys continues to spur material innovation with an expanded range of recycled toys. Even big brands like Lego are getting on board, rolling out sustainable bricks made of plant-based plastics. And rumor has it L.O.L. Surprise! will be replacing their signature egg-shaped packaging with biodegradable plastic balls this year.

The Evidence: