Thousands of toymakers flock to the annual U.S. Toy Fair to nab a piece of the $80 billion toy industry pie. Jeanne Yurman reports.
Noah Gordon is hitting the annual Toy Fair in New York City for the first time. A cop from North Carolina, he's hoping, like the sea of fellow exhibitors, that his toy... (SOUNDBITE) NOAH GORDON, TOYMAKER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's Box and Balls!" …will capture the attention of buyers. These toymakers are eager to nab or grow their slice of the more than $80 billion global toy market. Figuring out how to do that amid kids getting older younger, and in a fast changing digital age, isn't all child's play. However, tech in many ways, is not necessarily a negative. Rather it's actually, drawing kids to physical toys says NPD's Juli Lennett. (SOUNDBITE) JULI LENNETT, PRESIDENT, TOYS DIVISION, THE NPD GROUP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They're spending about seven hours a day on their technology, but what's that doing is getting them super involved in the characters that they love making them get really connected and, once they get connected, they actually want to buy the toys. Because they want to be able to have that physical aspect. They want to be able to play with the doll, they want to be able to play with the action figure and really become immersed in that particular character." LEGO, recently capturing the title as world's largest toymaker, has successfully bridged old school with new school. And despite all the tablets and electronics, it's also benefitting from a trend of double digit growth in the building set category. LEGO'S President of LEGO Americas, Søren Torp Laursen. (SOUNDBITE) SØREN TORP LAURSEN, PRESIDENT, LEGO AMERICAS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There's a natural interest for children in creating something. The major moment that's picking up a lot of steam right now is an important moment for us because it speaks to the ability for children to really explore their creativity and use their imagination to create something, and, I think, that's something we believe is ingrained in all children. And, I think, LEGO is part of bringing that to life and giving them that tool to actually create what is in their mind and what they dream of." (REPORTER'S BRIDGE) JEANNE YURMAN, REUTERS REPORTER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There are over 1,000 toymakers here, passionate about their fun and zany products. You may not see a lot of these items on store shelves. Many are prototypes and some just don't get picked up. But for those that do, you can expect them to hit shelves starting now until the holidays." LEGO, Mattel and Hasbro continue to be the big kahunas here. But analysts say smaller, private companies increasingly have an edge: they're less risk averse, tend to be more innovative and don't have to deal with lengthy product development. With luck, that may make it easier for a toy like Noah Gordon's to appeal to the fickle tastes of ankle biters to adolescents.