Coronavirus could topple toy industry by summer, figures show

NEW YORK – From Baby Yoda to eco-friendly stackable rings, toy makers last week introduced a line of products they hope will be on children’s wish lists for the 2020 holiday season.

The four-day toy fair, which ended last Tuesday, comes as the U.S. toy industry has been hit by a number of hurdles. The liquidation of Toys “R” Us in 2018 hurt impulse toy purchases. Then, the escalation of the trade war between the United States and China added costs to the manufacturers’ supply network. And now a new virus that is spreading threatens to delay product launches and could lead to seasonal toy shortages starting in May.

Such challenges add to the pressures that toy makers face to create toys that will thrill children who increasingly favor smartphones and other electronics.


Toy companies are hoping for a better year. Toy sales in the United States fell 4% to about $ 20.9 billion in 2019 from a year earlier, according to NPD Group Inc., a market research company. This follows a drop of 1% from the previous year.

Many toy makers rely on a slew of little Baby Yodas – the flagship character of the Disney + streaming series “The Mandalorian”. , from plush to animatronics.

Here is a guide for parents on buying toys:

HOW COVID-19 WILL IMPACT TOY PURCHASES: The new virus has left factories in China mostly inactive and shutting down design and development offices. About 30 percent of the workers needed are in toy factories in China, according to Steve Pasierb, CEO of the Toy Association business group. And many companies, from Basic Fun to MGA Entertainment, the makers of popular LOL dolls, are warning that there may be fewer seasonal toys on the shelves starting in May.

Zuru Toys Inc., the maker of the hit Mini Brands toy, said it was forced to postpone the fall launch of a key plush toy. Prepare for delayed launches from other toy makers, analysts say.

China accounted for 84% of U.S. toy imports in 2019, according to Panjiva, a global trade research firm. And many executives say there aren’t many alternatives outside of China that can offer the same kind of expertise.

“This is the crisis of the day for toy makers,” said Marc Rosenberg, an independent toy consultant. He believes Hasbro will fare better than others as he made the switch from toys to entertainment with his purchase last year of Entertainment One Ltd. , a UK entertainment company that produces ‘Peppa Pig’ and other animated shows for preschoolers.

Overall, Jim Silver, editor of, a toy review site, says parents should put things in perspective.

“There will be a lot of toys,” said Silver. “Some things will be sold, and a child may not get one of the hottest toys they want, but they can move on.”

Teleprinter Security Last Switch Switch %
TO HASBRO, INC. 95.76 -0.15 -0.16%
CARPET MATTEL, INC. 21.81 +0.42 + 1.96%
FNKO FUNKO, INC. 16.39 +0.27 +1.67%

GREEN TOYS: Until now, parents have had limited options when it comes to purchasing eco-friendly toys. But now big companies like MGA, Mattel, and Hasbro are embracing the green trend, following smaller competitors specializing in eco-friendly toys like Green Toys and Wish Bone Inc.

The Mattel Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack is made from cane-based plastics and packaged in 100% recycled material. This is part of the company’s goal to have 100% recycled, recyclable or biobased materials in its products and packaging by 2030.

Private company MGA Entertainment unveiled a biodegradable ball as part of its LOL Surprise! Doll line. MGA also unveiled a new product line from Little Tikes, made from a blend of recycled resins. Founder and CEO Isaac Larian said the resin compound has been in development for two years and hopes to patent it and share the technology with other toy makers.

Mattel and MGA both said the green toys would cost the same as previous non-green versions. For example, Fisher-Price’s Rock-a-Stack will retail for $ 6.99.

“Consumers want toys that are environmentally friendly, but they also want the lowest price possible,” Silver said. He estimates that less than 10% of all toys are currently environmentally friendly, but that number is expected to increase over the next few years.


SURPRISE TOYS FOR BOYS?: When the LOL Surprise! doll was launched in 2016, it has become one of the biggest hits in the industry for girls and has so far amassed billions of dollars in sales. The toy is a glittery half-sphere container that includes plastic charms and LOL Surprise! dolls that are revealed when children take off diapers from packages. This has spurred a big trend in the industry where girls unwrap an item to find all kinds of surprises. Zuru’s Tiny Brands, which is a bundle of realistic surprise miniatures from iconic brands like Dove, Skippy and Airheads, turned out to be a hit for the 2019 holidays.


Today, toy makers are trying to find bestselling collectibles for boys who haven’t flocked to something similar since Pokemon trading cards in the mid-1990s, Rosenberg explains.


A company, Super Impulse, is trying with Wacky Packages Minis, inspired by Topps baseball stickers. These are wrappers of humorous fake products like Dr. Pooper and Weaklies that come in a box of five that are only revealed when opened.


About Lola C. Chapman

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