Richard Gottlieb, one of the most respected global experts on toys, makes some interesting insights on the yearly "Hot Toys Lists". Mr. Gottlieb questions the very root of these lists. Who makes them and where do they come from? The answer is simple - big retailers pick the items they believe will be supported with the most ad dollars and thus, products that will move the most units. Although there is nothing wrong with retailers promoting these lists - keep in mind - they are not always the best toys.
This year Fat Brain Toys got into the hot toy list game with our "Predicted Top Christmas Toys of 2013." In typical Fat Brain Toys fashion we took a different approach - we listened to our customers! Hot toys are usually those toys that everyone wants, but no one can get. For over a decade, we've been monitoring toy trends and have identified some key metrics that makes a toy become "hot". But to make our list, the toy must not only be "hot", but it must be GREAT too.
Overall the difference in lists is simple - one is created by retailers based on which products will move, and one is created by customers based upon which products have the potential to move their children's minds. To check out Fat Brain Toy's Predicted Top Toys for Christmas click here.
REPUBLISHED FROM GLOBAL TOY NEWS
Who puts the hot in "hot toy"? Literally millions of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles make decsions based upon retailer generated "hot toy" lists; many thinking that "hot" means "good". In many cases it does but not always.
In that these lists have so much influence on what sells, I wanted to get a better idea for their dynamics by seeing if their were commonalities between the lists; not in the toys chosen but in the companies represented.
In order to get my head around the issue, I conducted a meta-analysis of the four leading retailer “Hot Toy” lists: Toys R Us, Kmart, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart. (*See the end of this article for the meta-analysis breakdown). Together the lists constitute 73 “Hot Toys” (I left out house brands). Here is what I found:
Wal-Mart’s Top 20 Toys
Wal-Mart “...brought together 1,000 kids ages 18 months to 10 years to test, play with, and help select the top toys for the season.”
7 out of 20 of the selected toys were from Mattel (35%)
5 were from Hasbro (25%)
14 out of 20 (70%) were from publicly held companies.
It makes you wonder what toys the children were given from which to select.
Kmart Fabulous 15
Kmart did not provide its criteria on its website. A review of the numbers, however, found a similar pattern to what was observed with Wal-Mart’s list.
6 out of 15 were from Mattel (40%)
2 out of 15 were from Hasbro (13%)
9 out of 15 were from publicly held companies (60%).
Toys “R” Us Hot Toy List – 2013
Toys “R” Us also did not provide criteria on its website. What was interesting about the Toys R Us list was that, with the exception of Hasbro which had two, no toy had more than one item on the list.
Products from publicly held companies made up 40% of the picks.
Kohl’s 25 Most Dreamed of Toys
Kohl’s also did not provide criteria for its selection.
9 out of 25 items were from Mattel (36%)
3 out of 25 were from Hasbro (12%)
14 out of 25 (56%) were from publicly held companies.
54% were from publicly traded companies
33% were from Mattel
14% were from Hasbro
As these lists are designed to sell merchandise rather than reward design excellence, it is easy to see why big toy companies, particularly public ones, dominate the lists. They typically provide a greater variety of products and are able to provide more advertising and promotion than smaller companies.
Though understandable, it is a shame that so many great toys from less funded companies go unrecognized. Not only that but children, parents and particularly grandparents can be forgiven for thinking that these lists constitute the best toys when in reality (though some are indeed great toys) they are really more about the advertising that children are going to be exposed to on line and on television than about play value.
*Here is a break down by manufacturer and by percentage of the number of times a manufacturer was named on the four combined lists.