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License Global went to Nuremberg, Germany, to delve into kids’ play and toy trends on display at Spielwarenmesse 2023.

Ben Roberts

February 1, 2023

4 Min Read
Inside Spielwarenmesse.
Inside Spielwarenmesse.Ben Roberts

Exhibitors from across the globe have descended on Spielwarenmesse 2023 (unofficially dubbed the Nuremberg Toy Fair) to transform Nuremberg’s giant halls into a showcase of over 1 million of the latest toys from nearly 3,000 exhibitors hailing from 70 countries, covering iconic brands and retail opportunities for board games, action figures, sensory, plush, trading card, collectibles, costume and more. 

Visiting the numerous halls of Spielwarenmesse, License Global was able to build a bigger picture of the global toy market through key moments, conversations and exhibitor displays.

Watch: License Global at Spielwarenmesse 2023


Of course, it would be remiss to not first address the sheer scale of licensing on display across Spielwarenmesse 2023. As noted in our London Toy Fair report, the popularity of licensed goods in the toy sector grew for the fourth consecutive year, up by 5.5%, now accounting for 31% of the market, and with so many milestone moments returning to cinemas worldwide (such as “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie”) there is already a raft of IP adaptations driving toy deals to define the year. Within the trends area of Spielwarenmesse itself, licensed products dominated with Wow! Stuff’s Jurassic World Real FX Baby Blue, a new collectible range WOW PODS, Super Mario Rally Tennis and various intellectual property extensions across new toy innovations. Throughout the giant halls, licensing was on display across collectibles, card games, board games, apparel, figurines and more. 

Kidult Culture 

The term, “kidult,” referring to market engagement for adult consumption of IP-driven licensed merchandise, games or figurines, represents a powerful collectible market. Noted to be the biggest driver of the toy market in 2022, the number of adults buying toys is growing as the generational impact of the ‘80s and ‘90s begins to create a millennial market of active buyers and proud brand/intellectual property aficionados. Detailed statues and figurines of the world’s most iconic characters, licensed board games and “parent-child” co-purchases are providing brands with a long-standing position in intellectual property and a huge boon in the toy market. Gaining a sneak peek into the Mattel stand, we took a closer look at some of the key initiatives bringing kidult and licensing closer, like the Mattel Creations range that allows brands and high-profile creatives to create their own limited-edition ranges of popular lines such as Hot Wheels, UNO or Barbie.

Hot Wheels products on display at Nuremberg Toy Fair.

Board Games 

Board Games continue to be a hit with consumers of all demographics. With half of the world playing video games, the $12 billion global board game market saw a 20% rise in popularity during the pandemic and continues to be a must-have for families, friends, adults and kids today. After seeing a sneak preview of Disney’s Lorcana card-trading game in London this January, witnessing the ongoing rise of Dungeons & Dragons and Pokémon, the tabletop and trading card bracket within board games is another unmistakable opportunity for brands to break out through licensing and into new markets. While board games didn’t dominate the display of Spielwarenmesse, the brands that do it well were blazing a trail with the latest inventions from Asmodee to Ravensburger. 

AR-Integration, with brands like HoloToyz and Hot Wheels highlighting the augmented reality space, is an exciting development in the toy sector. While the technology is nothing new, the execution is becoming more family-friendly, easily navigated and openly licensable. One example is Mattel’s latest range of “Jurassic World” toys that come equipped with SD cards to collect via an app. And as the physical world continues to meld with the virtual, the opportunity for innovation in toys becomes more exciting.  

The Spielwarenmesse ToyAwards 2023 

For six exhibitors, it was an especially successful start to the 72nd Spielwarenmesse. One day prior to the official opening of the fair, they were celebrated at a press preview for their product innovations with the presentation of the coveted ToyAward.  

The ToyAward winners included: 

Baby & Infant: EverEarth 7-in-1 Space Activity Cube from EverEarth Europe. 

PreSchool: Yummy Bear Scale from Topbright.  

SchoolKids: History of Life on Earth experimentation set from Clementoni. 

Teenager & Adults: Miika K.I. robot from Franckh-Kosmos.  

Startup: PAW Patrol AR Tattoos & Stickers from HoloToyz. 

Sustainability: Creative Building Blocks from BAVVIC. 

Read the License Global Toy Report in full here for a market overview of the international toy market trends.

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About the Author(s)

Ben Roberts

Content Director (EMEA), License Global

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