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The association predicts 2024 sales will be dominated by sustainability, fantasy elements, sports, and anime toys.

The Toy Association released predictions for the biggest trends in 2024 as the troubled industry tries to recoup losses from 2023. The toy industry trade association compiled a list of the biggest trends retailers and manufacturers should plan for this year.

The Toy Association: four trends for 2024

1. Sustainability

Consumers increasingly care about sustainability, which is now a common concern when purchasing toys, the association said. Nearly half (45%) of parents under age 40 consider the environmental impact of a toy when making purchasing decisions, it found in a recent survey of U.S. parents. 

“In 2024, toymakers will prioritize sustainability not only as a commitment to using eco-friendly materials, but also as a holistic approach aligned with these evolving consumer values,” said Kristin Morency Goldman, senior director of strategic communications at The Toy Association. Some toys aligned with this trend will address environmental factors directly, like a new version of Settlers of Catan that asks players to engage with ecological events and make decisions between fossil fuels and clean energy. Other traditionally plastic toys will advertise the use of plant-based materials.

Consumers are most concerned with the durability aspect of sustainability, according to a 2023 Deloitte Sustainable Consumer report. To that end, toy makers will also emphasize the craftsmanship of toys and their ability to be repurposed as children age.

2. Fantasy and mystery

Goldman pointed to a “resurgent cultural interest in spooky, mystery, and horror genres across movies, TV, and literature” driving this trend. The Toy Association named the Netflix series “Wednesday” a top media property to watch. The show surpassed “Stranger Things” to become the top-viewed English-language Netflix series in its first week. Mattel signed a multi-year licensing deal to produce toys based on the series for its Monster High and Little People lines. In addition, Mattel relaunched the Monster High line in 2023 and said it was the highest growth property among its doll category.


Another high-profile property, Harry Potter, will also drive sales in this toy category, the association said. Goldman pointed to the Talking Sorting Hat toy sold by Lego debuting in the spring.

3. Sports 

Consumers increasingly prefer toys that teach a skill and incorporate screen-free play, said Jen Lynch, content developer at The Toy Association. 65% of parents said they want toys that help build a skill, per a survey from the association. The group predicts a boost in popularity for sports toys, bolstered by the 2024 Summer Olympics. Sports is the highest-selling category within toys, accounting for $4.5 billion in 2023, although it also saw the greatest sales declines, down 16%.

The Toy Association expects Pickleball to be popular, along with new Nerf offerings from Hasbro and other sensory toys.

4. Anime

Toys based on media properties continue to be popular, and anime is the next area poised to grow, the association predicts. Anime reached new mainstream audiences in recent years, propelled by an interest in escapism during the pandemic. One in four parents said in a survey that they’re likely to buy children toys based on an anime franchise.


The genre is increasingly accessible through streaming services, making it more valuable, Lynch said. “Naruto” and “One Piece” are the most sought-after licenses, she said. This category also gives retailers an opportunity to target “kidults,” who engage with anime on social media and buy toys for themselves. 

State of the toy industry

2023 was a difficult year for toy retailers. Sales were depressed going into the holidays, which is usually the main event for the industry driven by end-of-year sales and gifting. The fourth quarter typically accounts for about 70% of U.S. toy sales, according to retail research firm Coresight Research. 

Holiday sales weren’t enough to make up for declines throughout the year. 2023 toy sales declined 8% from 2022 to 2023, totaling $28.0 billion, according to research firm Circana.

The Toy Association didn’t make explicit overall sales predictions for 2024. However, there’s hope that slowing inflation and lower interest rates might have an impact on toy sales later in the year, it said.


Mattel’s results

Toy retailer Mattel outperformed the industry as a whole in 2023. It reported net sales grew 16% in the fiscal fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Sales were flat for the year.

“Execution on our toy strategy was strong and we made meaningful progress in entertainment across film, television, digital and publishing. We ended 2023 with the strongest balance sheet we have had in years, putting us in an excellent position to execute our strategy to grow Mattel’s IP-driven toy business and expand our entertainment offering,” CEO Ynon Kriez said. “As we look to 2024, we believe we are very well positioned competitively and will continue to outpace the industry and gain market share.”

However, the retailer anticipates the industry will see further spending decline in 2024.

“We expect the toy industry to decline in 2024, although at a lesser rate than 2023. The anticipated decline is due to a lighter toy theatrical film slate and the impact of the shift in consumer spending patterns towards experiences and services, which we believe will moderate over the year,” Kreiz said. It predicts growth will resume in 2025.


Mattel ranks No. 205 in the 2023 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, a ranking of North America’s leading retailers by online sales.

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