Magazine article Drug Topics

Toy Suppliers Banking on Home and Price Appeals

Magazine article Drug Topics

Toy Suppliers Banking on Home and Price Appeals

Article excerpt

Toy suppliers banking on home and price appeals

Fun, fantasy, and low prices took center stage at the American International Toy Fair in New York City as toy manufacturers rolled out then newest items.

The toy industry hopes to bounce back from 1990, when dollar sales -- excluding video games -- totaled $13.4 billion, up only 0.3% over the previous year, said George R. Ditomassi, chairman of Toy Manufacturers of America, at a press briefing.

When video games are included, dollar increases came to 4.9%, said Ditomassi, who is also chairman of Milton Bradley Co. Unit sales were up 1.7% and 0.2%, with and without video games, respectively.

"In the past few years, consumers have learned to wait to make holiday purchases," he said. It paid off this season, "when stores slashed toy prices just before Christmas." He also noted a "credit card psychology:" Buy late and delay payments and interest.

As for this year, Ditomassi predicted that dollar sales -- including those of video games -- will be up 5% for both manufacturers and retailers. "Prices will go up 2% to 3%," he said, so real growth will be 2% to 3%. "My guess," he added, "is that the nonvideo segment of the toy industry will benefit by a softening in the video category of up to one-third of 1990 sales.

"With the price of the average toy far lower than the cost of most other forms of entertainment, the choice by many Americans to sit out the economic downturn by staying home could also provide many firms with opportunities for increased sales," he explained.

In the exhibit areas, many firms displayed line extensions, probably a sign of a cautious response to the economy. Others are tying in with upcoming movies. "Robin Hood," starring Kevin Costner, inspired a line of toys from Tonka's Kenner division. Steven Spielberg's "Hook" led Mattel Inc. to produce a line of Peter Pan action figures that look like the actors in the film.

Consumers' interest in the environment sparked the creation of a number of toys and games, ranging from Creative Learning Products' Preserve the Planet activity mats to Playmates' Toxic Crusaders.

The war in the Gulf hasn't been forgotten, either. TSR Inc. in Lake Geneva, Wis., developed the board game A Line in the Sand; it "simulated" the Persian Gulf conflict.

With a nod to the price-conscious consumer, most firms also have inexpensive items available:

* Parker Brothers, a division of Tonka Corp. …

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