The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) just wrapped up their 2023 Marketplace & Academy show in Columbus, OH, where thousands of new toys were featured, from plush to science kits to puzzles to toys you didn’t know your kids needed, but now can’t live without! The ASTRA team, composed of ASTRA staff, small retailers and Certified Play Experts, scoured the floor and spoke with members to discover the top trends in the industry for 2023.
“This was a banner year for Marketplace & Academy. Every year we gather to see what’s new, then consumers have to wait until they see products on-shelf. This year we’re excited to be sharing trends from the show to give everyone a sneak peek of what to expect this holiday season,” said Sue Warfield, President, ASTRA.“ These trends were compiled through the lens of the small retailer. They’re on the front lines, they’re hearing what is wanted from consumers and they were able to walk our show floors to see what fits those consumer interests. We anticipate it’s going to be a strong toy year.”
ASTRA 2023 top trends included:
1. Sloths might move slow, but they are one of the fastest growing trends we saw at the show. From plush to backpacks to games, sloths were front and center.
2. Tech hasn’t gone away, but we’re seeing a lot more low-tech toys. Flying toys and lots of lights and glowing toys dominated at the show.
3. Class Table Games have evolved and become more accessible. From new versions of ping pong to smaller foosball tables to table top volleyball, you don’t need a giant playroom to join in on the fun!
3. Toy Adjacent products are dominating with new fidget toys. New textures and an increased emphasis on stress relievers and anxiety easers, shows that this category continues to expand and address issues facing both kids and adults.
4. Tweens are disconnecting for a brief moment to focus on fashion and the industry is not disappointing. Spa kits, hair accessories, manicures, purses that change color, they’re all attracting the attention of this group.
5. Getting creative never goes out of style and we saw this with new crafting kits and blank canvas toys. From painting to drawing to glitter, kids are being encouraged to create more than ever before.
6. Inclusion and diversity was seen across multiple play patterns. From more neutral colors in toys, to added ethnicities in dolls and products that directly address inclusion, there was something to celebrate everyone.
7. Social Emotional Learning continues to evolve with toys that help kids recognize emotions, role play scenarios and get in touch with how they feel. From blocks to dolls to games, there are multiple ways to approach the topic and help kids feel heard.
ASTRA Marketplace & Academy was held in Columbus, OH from June 11-14. This year’s show featured over 300 exhibitors. ASTRA Marketplace & Academy is held yearly, rotating cities each year. The 2024 show will be held in St. Louis from June 1 to 4th. The show is open to trade only. For additional information visit astratoy.org
Founded in 1992, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is an international not-for-profit trade organization that develops and supports a membership of independent retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives in the toy industry. As the guiding star of the specialty Play industry, ASTRA is a community of dedicated professionals committed to providing children with healthy, quality play materials that have a high play value and are designed with a focus on what the child can do, rather than what the toy can do. Through certification programs, educational resources and networking opportunities, ASTRA engages, elevates, and promotes members to make a positive impact on the economy and culture of the communities they serve. For more information, visit http://www.astratoy.org.