New York City's Toy Fair included more than the typical fare this year. There were far out toys (a Barbie drone, say what!) and upgrades on old favorites. But one trend was readily apparent: toy makers are trying to appeal to a diverse market with more inclusionary products.
Lego, for instance, introduced its first standardized wheelchair figure. It's part of a new City box, which aims to depict the world kids interact with every day.
This isn't the first Lego figure to come with a wheelchair, but it's the first time the brand has introduced one in a fully standardized set. The figurine can be taken out of the chair, as well.
Interestingly, when we talked to GoldieBlox — a newer company that wants to encourage girls to learn more about STEM — the brand's founder, Debbie Sterling, took credit for this year's more inclusionary toys. Her goal to "disrupt the pink aisle" in toy stores proved that girls can be interested in construction toys, too, thereby pushing larger companies to consider how their products could be marketed across genders, she said.
Mattel garnered the biggest headlines in the toy business this year when it debuted its new Barbie body type dolls. The figures now come in curvy, petite, and tall. It's striking to see the new dolls standing alongside the classic Barbie; things feel a little more realistic. Mattel is really committing to the endeavor, too, by designing special clothing for the new dolls. The taller ones have bigger feet, for instance, so the company has to manufacture shoes specifically for the body type. Kids will also be able to customize their dolls a bit more with fresher "street-styled" clothing and different hairstyles, a spokesperson told us.
For its part, Hasbro reconsidered a recent diversity decision. In January, the brand released its Monopoly: Star Wars set without a Rey figure included. Fans derided the company for neglecting to include the central character in the initial set, so Hasbro backpedaled. It debuted the character's figure at this year's fair and plans to release it this fall.
It's clear brands are making a move to be more diverse in their products, and overall, the reception has been generally positive. They're obviously picking up on a consumer desire to have more choice when it comes to purchases. While the lure of toys will always be their creation of an imaginary world, they're slowly becoming a little more grounded in reality.