Princess dolls, unicorns and cute, fuzzy, collectible critters are a big focus for toy sellers this year — and that’s partly because of “Fortnite.”
Demand for girls’ toys is on the rise, industry insiders say, even as “Fortnite” — a video-game sensation that has become an obsession worldwide — pulls boys’ attention away from everything from action figures to remote-controlled cars.
While some manufacturers are still angling to distract boys with poop toys, drones and even “Fortnite”-licensed blaster guns — more say they’re instead placing bigger bets on the girls side of the business.
Earlier this month at the annual Toy Fair New York trade show in Manhattan, about two-thirds of the toys in the booth operated by WowWee — the maker of the top-selling Fingerlings finger puppets — were aimed at girls. Those included a line of wearable, magnetized critters called Pixie Belles.
“The girl-toy segment is flat-out bigger, and there is more opportunity because girls stick around the toy shelf a little longer,” WowWee brand manager Andrew Yanofsky told The Post.
Mattel’s 60-year-old Barbie franchise is the most high-profile beneficiary of the recent trend, with sales up 12 percent in the holiday quarter. Sales of Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends, by comparison, were down 17 percent over the same period.
Both large and small companies are pouring more cash into dolls and other girlie stuff as they look to ride the coattails of one of the hottest- selling products for at least two years — LOL Surprise, a collection of pint-size figurines whose ornate packaging is half the fun of owning them.
“LOL was such a huge hit that others are trying to capture that excitement by targeting girls,” said toys and games analyst Matthew Hudak of Euromonitor International.
This year Yulu, which makes board and action-oriented games, introduced its first-ever doll line. Snapstar features six 9-inch dolls with names like Dawn, Yuki and Izzy, who look like a cross between Barbie and Bratz dolls and are being sold at Walmart. Girls are encouraged to post photos of their Snapstar dolls on Instagram.
While Yulu has not given up on boys, co-founder Jochem van Rijn admitted that “designing interesting play patterns for boys is a challenge. It’s not an easy task.”
Sales of action figures have ebbed and flowed with the release of movies tied to Marvel and Disney characters. But increasingly, their most avid customers are adults, industry watchers say.
“The collector category is the fastest-growing segment of action figures,” Jim Silver, president of TTPM, a toy review Web site, told The Post.
Likewise, toy cars, guns and trucks hold sway over boys until the ripe age of 10, according to industry experts. After that their gaming consoles become more important.
“They siphon money away from the toy industry,” toy expert Richard Gottlieb said of video games.
While toy sales are expected to grow an estimated 2.1 percent to $24.7 billion in the US by 2022, video games are expected to grow by 6 percent, to $36.2 billion, according to Euromonitor.
WowWee’s answer to the boy-toy challenge is its Butthead line of toys, which includes a “Fart Blaster” gun that emits a foul-smelling odor.
“It’s a laugh and a smile that we are delivering, even to an older boy who thought he was beyond toys,” said Yanofsky.
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