More than 200 companies are participating in the 59th annual Toy Fair, organized by The British Toy & Hobby Association, at the Olympia Hall in London, with licensed toys taking several awards in the “Best New Toys" for 2012.
U.K. toy manufacturer Hornby Hobbies received three Best New Toy awards, while Character Options, Flair and Vivid Toy Group received two awards. Licensed toys also had a strong showing across multiple categories with toys from children's entertainment properties Ben 10, Moshi Monsters, Doctor Who, Hello Kitty, Mike the Knight and Fireman Sam.
A total of more than 384 million toys were sold in the U.K. during 2011, according the NPD Group. Of the 10 categories tracked by NPD, the three fastest growing in 2011 were building sets (up 20 percent), outdoor (up 12 percent) and dolls (up 8 percent).
In the year ending September 2011, sales of girls' toys (which includes arts and crafts, dolls and plush) increased in value by 4 percent, while boys' toys increased by 3 percent over the same period. They now account for 45 percent of all toy sales compared to 55 percent for boys' toys.
The U.K. toy market is now valued at £2.96 billion. While the U.K. is still ranked as the No. 1 toy market in Europe, the NPD Group reports that its dominance is slipping. The French toy market recorded 5 percent growth last year compared to 2010, while Germany finished 2011 with a solid 7 percent growth on 2010. NPD reported a decline of 3 percent in Italy and 7 percent in Spain, whose turnover had already declined by 0.7 percent in 2010.
"2011 was an incredibly tough trading period for all areas of retail in the U.K.," says a spokesperson from the British Toy & Hobby Association. "By managing to grow in such difficult times, the U.K. toy industry has proved its resilience yet again. We are made of strong stuff. Strong stuff, plus creativity, innovation, imagination and the foresight to embrace opportunity; whether that opportunity lies in technology, licenses or real world events such as the Olympics, Euro 2012 or forthcoming family blockbusters such as Ted, The Amazing Spider-Man, Men in Black 3 and Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, which will all help to keep children's interest in toys alive over the summer."
The "Best New Toys" for 2012, according to the British Toy & Hobby Association, are as follows:
- Ben 10 Omniverse Rooks Truck (Bandai)
- Pirate Ship (Playmobil)
- Gladiators and Battle Rhinoceros (Schleich)
- AppGear (Character Options)
- Moshi App Monster (Vivid Toy Group)
- Tardis Smart Safe (Zeon)
- Friends Olivia's House (Lego)
- Ninjago Dragon (Lego)
- Construction Advanced Tool Box (Meccano)
- Crayola Colour Wonder Metallic Paper (Vivid Toy Group)
- myStyle Japanese Best Friend Dolls (Interplay)
- Aquarelle (Ravensburger)
Games and Puzzles
- Logo "What Am I?" (Drumond Park)
- The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Puzzle (H P Gibsons)
- Poppin Hoppies (University Games)
- Sylvanian Families Ice Cream Van (Flair)
- Dizzy Dancer Dix Studio (Hasbro)
- Hello Kitty Vellutata Mushroom House (HTI)
Hobby and Models
- Scalextric Micro - Star Wars Death Star Attack (Hornby Hobbies)
- Outspeeder (Revell)
- Mike the Knight Action Playsets (Character Options)
- Letter Factory Phonics (Leapfrog)
- Winnie the Pooh Spin n Play Acorn Train (Tomy Europe)
- Team GB Mini (Golden Bear)
- London 2012 Pictagram Figurine Collection (Hornby Hobbies)
- Team GB Trunki (Trunki)
- Fireman Sam Rescue Tri-Scooter (MV Sports)
- Lalaloopsy Talking Plush (Underground Toys)
- Roaring Raa Raa (Tomy Europe)
- The Trash Pack (Flair)
- Corgi Toy Die-cast (Hornby Hobbies)
- Redakai (Spinmaster)