Slime, tech and surprises: 5 toy trends for the 2019 holidays

Celebrating the holidays with family.

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The holidays are nearly here, and with six fewer days to shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas, parents need to act fast to grab the hottest toys.

This year, kids are gravitating toward toys that feature their favorite characters from television and the big screen. Movies like “Avengers: Endgame,” “Toy Story 4” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” fueled sales earlier in the year, but big blockbusters like “Frozen II,” “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and “Jumanji: The Next Level” are poised to keep sales strong throughout the rest of the year.

Other properties like Fortnight, Pokemon, Baby Shark are also on many kids’ holiday wish lists.

Slime, surprise packs and coding toys also remain popular with kids. And parents have been keen to pick up tried-and-true board games from their childhood to put beneath the tree.

Here are five holiday toy trends to look out for this holiday season:

As seen on TV — and the big screen

Fans of “Star Wars,” “Marvel,” “Paw Patrol” and “Frozen” will have no shortage of new toys and collectibles this year.

Toys that feature elements and characters from popular blockbusters and television shows are not new to the industry, but they are abundant.

Parents will be able to pick up action figures, dolls, costumes, gadgets and sports goods all tied to their kids favorite entertainment properties.

Between 20% to 30% of all toy sales are directly related to movie and TV IP, according to Linda Bolton Weiser, analyst at D.A. Davidson.

Sarah Whitten

It’s no surprise that these types of toys are so prevalent. After all, kids like to reenact their favorite moments from movies and insert themselves into their own versions of those stories.

For kids that love Buzz Lightyear, Disney partnered with Jakks Pacific to create a Star Command Center. The toy stand just over three feet tall and can be positioned horizontally or vertically depending on if your child wants to stand at the command center, which has working lights, sound effects and a console panel that converts into a desk, or pretend they are flying in the cockpit of a space cruiser.

Toys like these allow fans of the “Toy Story” franchise to immerse themselves in the story, but also create their own adventures.

Retail shelves this year are lined with product from “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Frozen II,” “Toy Story 4,” “Jumanji: The Next Level” and more.

Surprise! What’d you get?

Collectibles remain one of the strongest drivers of growth in the toy industry, and that trend isn’t slowing anytime soon. However, surprise toys or blind bag toys, have become a much larger piece of those of sales in recent years.

MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise is at the forefront of this trend, but is by no means the only player. Roblox mystery figures, Treasure X surprise packs and Hasbro’s Lost Kitties are all looking for share in the un-boxing toy market.

These items are smaller and much cheaper than traditional action figures or collectible dolls, almost always selling for less than $10. They rose in popularity partially because of kids’ innate desire to collect, but also because of social media videos of other kids unwrapping these toys.

Sarah Whitten | CNBC

Parents can purchase the smaller, individual packs as stocking stuffers or opt to purchase bigger sets that come with more surprises inside.

For example, MGA is offering up a massive Doll House this holiday season that contains more than 95 “surprises.” It retails for nearly $240.

Slime, goo & putty

It seems the slime trend isn’t going away soon either.

Goo, putty and gunk have been the rage since 2017 when videos of people making gooey concoctions on YouTube started to go viral. It seems that some of the allure of make-you-own slime has fizzled, but playing with slime has not.

Cra-Z-Art has partnered with Nickelodeon to create different buckets of slime, Play-Doh has rolled out at least five different varieties of goo and putty and Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty now comes in colors like Enchanting Unicorn and Wizard’s Wand.

Sarah Whitten | CNBC

Other companies like WowWee and MGA Entertainment are also saving parents from the mess of making slime and providing kids with already-made goo. Liquid Lava Putty is part of an extension line for Fingerlings, and Num-Num Dippers are a blind-pack collectible.


So-called STEM and STEAM toys make up a rising trend in the industry. STEM products focus on teaching science, technology, engineering and math — often through coding. STEAM toys seek to teach STEM-related ideas by using art.

Toys that incorporate coding, science experiments and innovative building are growing more popular. ThinkFun offers a falling marble logic game called Gravity Maze, Lego offers building sets that link to augmented reality apps and Thames & Kosmos has a kit where kids build a robotic hedgehog and then program it to tumble, roll and spin.

My Robotic Pet: Tumbling Hedgehog is a STEM experiment kit from Thames & Kosmos.

Thames & Kosmos

The idea behind these toys is to introduce kids, even toddlers, to technology that they will interact with in the future and to foster a love of learning through play.

Classic and family play

Another go-to trend during the holidays is classic board games.

Games like Twister, Monopoly, Jenga and Clue are hot commodities during the holidays, especially as parents look for activities that the whole family can do together.

Of course, each year new games arrive — some are new interpretations of older games, updated for a new generation, or more adult-friendly fare.

A worker arranges boxes of Hasbro  board games on a shelf at a Target Corp. location in Emeryville, California.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

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