From robots to classics, here are the top toy trends for 2017

By Rieva Lesonsky

The Toy Fair just ended and the Toy Industry Association (TIA) says these are among the top toy trends for 2017.

  1. Collectibles 2.0: The NPD Group reports collectibles boasted 33 percent growth last year (to $1.8 billion in sales). The trend is expected to continue this year.
  2. Up & Active: These indoor and outdoor toys are designed to “motivate kids to burn off excess energy.” They run the gamut from tech toys to more classic and traditional games.
  3. Technology Trends: The TIA says 2017 should see a “surge in augmented and virtual reality toys, drones, virtual pets, robotics and more.”
  4. Oh So Classic!: Some of the merchandise in this category may well be the same toys you played with as a kid. These are the low- or no-tech games, puzzles and dolls—which The NPD Group says were “among the fastest-growing toy category” last year.
  5. From STEAM to Stream: STEAM is the new, augmented STEM. Standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, these are educational toys that need to be exciting and engaging, says TIA, to “ignite kids’ curiosity.” This year the addition of Robotics will, according to TIA, “transform STEAM to STREAM.”
  6. Movie Mania: TIA says and Bloomberg Businessweek agrees that licensing has been “a huge boon” for the toy business, accounting for nearly one-third of U.S. toy sales. Businessweek reports, “Almost a third of action figures, race cars and spaceships are tied to Hollywood.” This year, TIA says, there will be “a wave” of family-friendly movies released, likely having an even bigger impact on toy sales.

One trend I’m hearing about from friends and family is buying toys from companies that are making a difference. For instance, Bears for Humanity (pictured above) is a social commerce company that makes its products using certified organic materials and Fair Trade practices. The company hires at-risk women from welfare-to-work programs and donates a bear to a child in need for every bear it sells.