Toys get smaller and cheaper as inflation slams buyers

Retailers are poised to offer smaller, cheaper toys this holiday season — a bid to tempt nervous shoppers as inflation drives up the prices of everything from gas to groceries.

MGA Entertainment, maker of LOL Surprise and Bratz dolls, is releasing more than 200 new toys priced at or below $10, many of which will hit stores next month, chief executive Isaac Larian said. That’s up from 10 or 15 new toys that cost $10 or less last year.

“We’re targeting this market because people have less money to spend,” Larian told the Post.

Elsewhere, one of last year’s hit toys, Got2Glow Fairies, is now available in a scaled-down version that costs $25 compared to the original’s $40, according to its Canadian manufacturer WowWee. Among WowWee’s newest toys is a line of three-inch dolls called Fashion Fidgets, which recently sold on Amazon for $8 each.

Walmart partnered with WowWee on the item and helped set the prices, said Andrew Yanofsky, chief marketing officer for WowWee.

These three-inch Fashion Fidget dolls from WowWee are under $10, the sweet spot for toys this holiday season.

“Some of our biggest initiatives this year are affordability,” Yanofsky told The Post.

Unlike last year, when retailers and toymakers feared they wouldn’t have enough product to sell, this fall they focused on clearing goods, including larger, more expensive items that aren’t not arrive in time for the 2021 holidays. Some of the plans were already in the works last year, when shipping costs skyrocketed and larger toys took up too much space in containers that cost $20,000 to ship from Asia to the United States.

“Retailers started pushing back on bigger packaging and telling us they wanted to dedicate more space on their shelves for lower prices,” Joshua Loerzel, co-owner of Sky Castle Toys told The Post. “Now we have retail channels that are flooded with big ticket items that were hard to move in the first part of the year.”

Mini Bratz dolls in their packaging.
These $10 Mini Bratz dolls from MGA Entertainment were introduced this year and are one-third the price of the original 11-inch Bratz dolls.
MGA Entertainment

As a result, most of Sky Castle Toys’ holiday line falls into the $10 and under category, Loerzel said. These include DoodleJamz – squishy drawing pads that are gel-filled and sell for $9.99, up from a larger version that retailed for $25 when it was first introduced in June 2021.

“We saw right away that we had to move to a lower price,” Loerzel said.

Toy giant Hasbro reported ‘higher inventory levels’ as it delivered lackluster third-quarter results, warning it expects this year’s revenue to be ‘flat’ compared to 2021 Its weak results were “still impacted by increased price sensitivity for the average consumer,” CEO Chris Cocks says. Mattel also warned of “increased market volatility” last month as it cut its earnings outlook for the year and said it was reassessing its expectations for 2023.

“If you walk into any Target or Walmart store, toy selection is all about value,” Yanofsky said. “You will see a lot of stock, which is a total of 180 from last year. Supply is exceeding demand this year.

Doodle Jamz toy.
When DoodleJamz was first introduced last year, it cost $25. Now a smaller version is $10.
sky castle toys

At Manhattan’s Target store on West 42nd Street last week, nearly all toys were 10% to 20% off, with Black Friday signage offering “Buy 2, get 1 free” on books, board games, video games and puzzles. Even Barbie gear has been discounted, including $1.70 off a $15.29 Barbie “Brooklyn Roberts Broadway playset and $1.10 off a $9.89 Barbie Family Chelsea travel set.

“It feels like the first week of January in stores right now,” Loerzel observed. “There are a lot of early price reductions that you would normally only see after the holidays.”

Lower-priced items, meanwhile, sell faster and have the dual benefit of selling well year-round, experts say.

A collection of Little Tikes toys.
MGA Entertainment launched 200 SKUs of small, inexpensive toys this holiday season, up from just 10 or 15 last year.
MGA Entertainment

This year, MGA’s original 11-inch Bratz doll turns 21, and a special anniversary edition, “Girls Nite Out,” sells for $36 at Target. Meanwhile, however, a new line of two-inch Mini Bratz dolls are also selling for $9.88 at Amazon and Walmart and $9.99 at Target.

Sure, there will still be expensive toys under the Christmas tree this year — but the number will be much smaller, say toy insiders.

“The consumer will spend, but likely in smaller amounts over the next few quarters,” said Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun, maker of the Tonka and Lite Brite trucks.

New York Post

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