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US Traditional Toys and Games market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Traditional Toys and Games market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?


The Report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Traditional Toys and Games– US, April 2014. For the purpose of this Report, traditional toys and games include the following product segments:

  • Action figures
  • Toy vehicles (eg trucks, boats, planes)
  • Outdoor-related toys excluding bikes (eg scooters, swing sets)
  • Sports-related toys (eg basketball, baseball bats)
  • Dolls and related toys (eg doll clothes and accessories, dollhouses)
  • Arts and crafts (eg clay, crayons)
  • Stuffed animals
  • Building sets (eg LEGOs, wood blocks)
  • Puzzles
  • Card or board games
  • Electronic developmental and learning toys (ie kids-specific learning systems).

This Report does not include coverage of video games, online games, or mobile games.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Dana Macke, a leading analyst in the Retail & Apparel sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The toy market totals an estimated $26.2 billion in 2016 and has experienced strong growth in the past two years. This trajectory is likely to continue into 2017 given the positive economic climate and the anticipated release of new installments in movie franchises popular with kids. Character merchandising is an important component of growth, but toy companies are also looking to integrate new technologies such as robotics and augmented reality into their products to delight shoppers. Dana Macke
Associate Director - Lifestyles & Leisure

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

          • The issues
            • Kids 12+ age out of the toy category
              • Figure 1: Toy purchases, September 2016
            • Older adults have limited exposure to the market
              • Figure 2: Reasons for purchase – select items, by age, September 2016
            • Amazon a likely choice for shoppers with older kids
              • Figure 3: Retailers shopped, by age of child, September 2016
            • The opportunities
              • Toys can embrace the power of silence
                • Figure 4: Expectations for kids toys – select items, by parental status, September 2016
              • Word-of-mouth is worth its weight
                • Figure 5: Sources of influence, September 2016
              • Some people never grow up
                • Figure 6: Attitudes toward toys and games, September 2016
              • What it means
              • The Market – What you need to know

                • Strong market growth in recent years
                  • Smaller families may shrink addressable audience
                    • Outdoor toys lead the market
                      • Ownership of dolls decreasing, ownership of toy guns increasing
                        • Entertainment and technology bring promise of future growth
                        • Market Size and Breakdown

                          • Growth in the toy market accelerates
                            • Figure 7: Total US retail sales of traditional toys and games, at current prices, 2011-16
                          • Toy segments remain stable
                            • Figure 8: Distribution of dollar sales of toys and games, by type, 2013 and 2015
                        • Market Perspective

                          • Traditional dolls decline in popularity
                            • Figure 9: Doll ownership, May 2005-June 2016
                          • Barbie continues to dominate the doll segment
                            • Figure 10: Doll ownership, by type, April 2011-June 2016
                          • Sales of toy guns thrive even in a critical environment
                              • Figure 11: Toy gun ownership, May 2006-June 2016
                            • Toy companies expand the “Christmas creep”
                              • Pokémon Go sets the stage for the next big thing in gaming
                                • Figure 12: Use of video games, May 2006-June 2016
                              • Toy market ebbs and flows with the entertainment industry
                              • Market Factors

                                • Americans feeling financially stable
                                  • Figure 13: Personal financial situations, 2013-15
                                • Consumer confidence high, albeit a bit uncertain
                                  • Figure 14: Consumer Sentiment Index, January 2007-June 2016
                                • Growth in nonfamily households can reduce market potential
                                  • Figure 15: Family and nonfamily households, 2005-15
                                • Shrinking family sizes may dampen outlook
                                  • Figure 16: Average number of children per household (including households with no children), 2005-15
                              • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                • Mattel
                                  • Lego
                                    • Hasbro
                                      • Jakks Pacific
                                        • MGA Entertainment
                                        • Key Players

                                          • Mattel
                                              • Figure 17: Toys “R” Us ads for Barbie, December 2015
                                            • Lego
                                              • Hasbro
                                                  • Figure 18: Toys “R” Us ad for Disney Princess, March 2016
                                                • Jakks Pacific Inc.
                                                  • MGA Entertainment
                                                  • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                                                    • Young parents looking for the old and the new
                                                      • No one’s a loser with cooperative board games
                                                        • Toy companies duke it out over film rights
                                                          • Developing new technologies can be a risk for toy companies
                                                            • Hot holiday toys
                                                              • No such thing as girls’ toys and boys’ toys
                                                              • What’s Working?

                                                                • 1980s comebacks appeal to young parents
                                                                  • Kids learn to innovate with STEM based toys
                                                                    • Figure 19: How to Use Your Code & Go(TM) Robot Mouse Activity Set
                                                                    • Figure 20: Barbie STEM Kit by Thames & Kosmos
                                                                    • Figure 21: Girls Only! Secret Message Lab: Dancing Man Code
                                                                    • Figure 22: Getting Started
                                                                    • Figure 23: Walmart email for STEM toys, October 2016
                                                                  • Avoid the family fight with cooperative board games
                                                                    • Barbie bounces back
                                                                      • Competition heightens for big-name licenses
                                                                        • Sales declines push American Girl line into new locations
                                                                          • Figure 24: Toys “R” Us email promotion, American Girl, October 2016
                                                                      • What’s Struggling?

                                                                        • WiFi-enabled toys spark privacy controversy
                                                                          • PlayMation products fail to launch
                                                                            • Jurassic World toys go extinct at Hasbro
                                                                              • Toys-to-life segment has growing pains
                                                                              • What’s Next?

                                                                                • 2016 holiday toys – what to expect
                                                                                  • Out with the old, in with the preowned
                                                                                    • Toy makers blur the lines between boys and girls toys
                                                                                      • Interactive arts and crafts
                                                                                        • Figure 25: Introducing Osmo Creative Set featuring Monster
                                                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                      • Kids under 12 have all the fun
                                                                                        • Toys are purchased with others in mind
                                                                                          • Amazon fast on the heels of mass merchandisers
                                                                                            • It may be educational, but is it fun?
                                                                                              • Kids are the primary influencer
                                                                                                • A place for gendered, and gender-neutral toys
                                                                                                • Types of Toys Purchased

                                                                                                    • Younger children are the most likely toy recipients
                                                                                                      • Figure 26: Toy purchases, September 2016
                                                                                                    • Arts appeal to all
                                                                                                      • Figure 27: Types of toys purchased, September 2016
                                                                                                    • Board games buoyed by other gaming methods
                                                                                                      • Figure 28: Types of toys purchased – for children, for adults, September 2016
                                                                                                    • One toy for you, one toy for dad
                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Purchase of any toy for myself, by key demographics, September 2016
                                                                                                  • Purchase Motivations

                                                                                                      • The gifts that keep on giving
                                                                                                        • Figure 30: Reasons for purchase, September 2016
                                                                                                      • Dad shows pride with a purchase
                                                                                                        • Figure 31: Reasons for purchase – select items, by moms and dads, September 2016
                                                                                                      • Older adults buy mainly as gifts
                                                                                                        • Figure 32: Reasons for purchase – select items, by age, September 2016
                                                                                                      • Those who have more, are able to give more
                                                                                                        • Figure 33: Reasons for purchase – toy drive, by household income, September 2016
                                                                                                        • Figure 34: Toys for Tots promotion, Toys “R” Us, October 2016
                                                                                                      • Parents want to reward kids of all ages
                                                                                                        • Figure 35: Reasons for purchase – rewards, by age of child, September 2016
                                                                                                    • Retailers Shopped

                                                                                                        • Mass merchandisers have something for everyone
                                                                                                          • Low prices encourage impulse purchases
                                                                                                            • Catalogs get revamped
                                                                                                              • Figure 36: Retailers shopped, September 2016
                                                                                                            • Moms the most likely to shop mass merchandisers
                                                                                                              • Figure 37: Retailers shopped, by parental status, September 2016
                                                                                                            • Amazon is winning over prime parent demographic
                                                                                                              • Figure 38: Retailers shopped, by age of child, September 2016
                                                                                                            • Hispanic shoppers purchase across retail channels
                                                                                                              • Figure 39: Retailers shopped – select retailers, by Hispanic origin, September 2016
                                                                                                          • Toy Expectations

                                                                                                              • Kids just wanna have fun
                                                                                                                • Figure 40: Expectations for kids toys, September 2016
                                                                                                              • Balancing fun and learning
                                                                                                                • Parents invest in peace and quiet
                                                                                                                  • Figure 41: Expectations for kids toys – select items, by parental status, September 2016
                                                                                                                • Creative and educational toys appeal to female shoppers
                                                                                                                  • Figure 42: Expectations for kids toys – select items, by gender, September 2016
                                                                                                                • Toys bring adults joy and human connection
                                                                                                                    • Figure 43: Expectations for adults toys, September 2016
                                                                                                                • Sources of Influence

                                                                                                                    • Children’s opinions weigh heavily on toy decisions
                                                                                                                        • Figure 44: Sources of influence, September 2016
                                                                                                                      • Online product reviews more impactful for young shoppers
                                                                                                                        • Figure 45: Sources of influence – online reviews, by age, September 2016
                                                                                                                      • Moms go straight to the source – their kids
                                                                                                                        • Figure 46: Sources of influence – input from children and recommendations from friends and family, by parental status, September 2016
                                                                                                                      • Hispanic shoppers consider purchase logistics
                                                                                                                        • Figure 47: Sources of influence – select items, by Hispanic origin, September 2016
                                                                                                                    • Attitudes toward Toys and Games

                                                                                                                        • Parents split on gender neutrality
                                                                                                                          • Toy selection is best left to the experts (kids)
                                                                                                                            • Traditional toys chosen for child development
                                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Attitudes toward toys and games – part 1, September 2016
                                                                                                                            • Watch out, kids. We’re coming for your toys.
                                                                                                                              • Characters welcome
                                                                                                                                • Some kids are easy to please
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 49: Attitudes toward toys and games – part 2, September 2016
                                                                                                                                • Young shoppers seek out gender neutral toys
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 50: Attitudes toward toys and games – gender neutral toys, by gender, age, September 2016
                                                                                                                                  • Women find value in traditional toys
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 51: Attitudes toward toys and games – views on traditional toys, by select demographics, September 2016
                                                                                                                                  • Women are game-night champions
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 52: Attitudes toward toys and games – views on toys for adults, by select demographics, September 2016
                                                                                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                                  • Data sources
                                                                                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                                      • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                                                        • Direct marketing creative
                                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Market

                                                                                                                                              • Figure 53: Total US sales and forecast of market, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2011-16
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Distribution of dollar sales of toys and games, by type, 2013 and 2015
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Doll ownership, May 2005-June 2016
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 56: Doll ownership, by type, April 2011-June 2016
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 57: Toy gun ownership, May 2006-June 2016
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 58: Use of video games, May 2006-June 2016