Unboxing on YouTube drives toy demand this Christmas

Toy shops this Christmas are placing a punt on collectable toys, which have in recent years taken over the international toy market.

Go on adventures with different characters with Paw Patrol
Go on adventures with different characters with Paw Patrol

Now is the perfect time to get ahead of the Christmas rush.

It is never too early to start shopping for the kids, whether it be in store or online. After all, nothing’s worse than being under pressure as the countdown to Christmas starts – with kids’ expectations running high, there’s a reason Christmas is known for being one of the most stressful times of the year. So what should parents watch out for in the world of toys this season?

Karl Camilleri, the owner of The Model Shop, is placing a punt on collectable toys, which he says have taken the international toy market by storm.

Toys such as LOL Surprise have become a phenomenon, he adds. “LOL Surprise were inspired by YouTube unboxing videos, which in itself is a phenomenon that has taken off in recent years… it’s gotten to the point where toy brands don’t really focus their efforts on advertising on television anymore – now it’s all about advertising on YouTube.”

Stephania Buhagiar, marketing and commercial executive for Junior Toy Stores, agreed that LOL Surprise would be a big seller this year. “Even though LOL Surprise were big last Christmas, and even the year before that, it’s foreseen that this year they’ll be a big ticket item again.”

Two girls unboxing Lol Surprise!
Two girls unboxing Lol Surprise!

LOL Surprise is a hard plastic circular object, usually covered in a fair amount of glitter. Inside are small collectable toys, which in some of the lines, allow kids to assemble their own dolls. Typically, there are several layers for kids to unbox, with the latest LOL Surprise’s having codes for each layer, which kids will have to punch in, in order to retrieve their next gift.

Buhagiar said that anything unicorn-themed will also do very well this year. “We’ve noticed that anything with unicorns tends to be very popular – games, soft toys… slime! If it’s got something to do with unicorns it will sell.” In fact, she foresees interactive sound and light toy line VTech’s Myla the Magical Make-Up Unicorn doing very well this Christmas.

Vtech Myla wings, horn and eyes change colour when playing with the make-up palette
Vtech Myla wings, horn and eyes change colour when playing with the make-up palette

Another plush collectable toy that has skyrocketed in popularity are Beanie Boos. “Beanie Boos have unbelievably taken over this market,” Camilleri said. “When you used to walk into the plush section at toy shops, there used to be variety, but now it’s almost all Beanie Boos.”
Cry Babies are also big this year – with three different Cry Babies to collect. These dolls cry real water, and sound just like real babies, with each Cry Baby coming with its own animal print inside.

Monopoly Cheaters Edition is a new take on the traditional game, where players are actually encouraged to cheat. The board comes with a handcuff attached to the corner where jail traditionally is, and any player who’s caught cheating is handcuffed to the board for a period of time.
Paw Patrol still dominates the three to six category for boys – although not exclusively for boys. Paw Patrol is based off characters from the television show of the same name, broadcasted on Nickelodeon. Kids can play with their favourite characters in real life. Paw Patrol comes in a variety of different formulas, from individually sold toys to sets.

Monopoly cheaters edition actually encourages you to cheat!
Monopoly cheaters edition actually encourages you to cheat!

For older boys, ages eight and up, Nerf Guns retain their perennial popularity, with Camilleri foreseeing the X Shot Nerf Gun being a big ticket item this year.

Fingerlings are also incredibly popular this year. Fingerlings usually come in the form of a robotic monkey, unicorn, or sloth that clings to your fingers and reacts to touch and sound, blinking and blowing kisses.

Fingerlings move when you interact with them
Fingerlings move when you interact with them

While new toys have taken over the market, traditional toys are very much here to stay – with brands such as Playmobil and Lego still doing fairly well.

“Traditional toys are still extremely important, because they help with the development of children, and improve critical thinking skills unlike the newer toys – such as the collectables that kids really want at the moment, but then end up getting bored of and moving on to the next best thing,” said Camilleri.

Buhagiar agrees. “Lego City, a very popular range of Lego, will surely do well this Christmas,” said Buhagiar.

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