Above: Photo of Nerfuls
by Guillermo Lucero
Toys ‘R’ Us has recently announced their 2010 Holiday Hot Toy List. Many of the trends going on right now are reflective of what was happening 20 or 30 years ago. Dolls with their own stories are big for girls, and for boys trains are making a surging comeback. A current trend cited in their report is that the hottest toys are, “Cute, Cool, and Collectible”. This made me think of some of my favorite toys as a kid that also possessed those characteristics. Do any of you remember Nerfuls
? According to Wikipedia
they were a line of toy figures produced by Parker Brothers in the 1980s. They were typically constructed of three or four pieces including a plastic ball for a head and a bowl-shaped body in which the head would sit. Nerfuls
definitely fell into the very profitable category of collectible, and at the end of their commercials they made sure to let you kno
w that “you can collect them all”. As far as being cute, and cool, well I sure thought they were.
One toy that made the list this year for the 2-4 year old category is Pillow Pets. Despite the category Toys ‘R’ Us put them in, I actually have witnessed the popularity of this item firsthand among children who are older than 4. Pillow Pets are one of the most basic items you could design for a child, but like a lot of toys they also make you ask the question, “why didn
’t I think of that?” All they are is a soft pillow that when folded and velcroed
becomes a stuffed animal. They actually remind me of something we had growing up, called Pillow People, which were square pillows with arms and legs and faces on them done in decals. In a sense they were also like stuffed animals but the characters were people. However, I am reading online that there were cats and dogs in the product lineup, and other things such as bed sheets, which came out with the Pillow People characters on them. The pillows were so popular that one was actually featured on full house as D.J Tanner’s most prized possession
I think one of the reasons that the marketing of toy/pillow hybrids has been so successful is because they comfort children in one of their most vulnerable places, when they are all alone in their room trying to fall asleep and are scared of what lies beneath their bed or in their closet. Stuffed animals were a great invention, but if that soft furry animal can double as something kids can lay their heads on and become that much closer with, you truly have a win-win.
James Colistra is a freelance Brand Strategist based in New York City.
[Source: “Toys “R”Us Announces 2010 Holiday Toy Trends.” Toys”R”Us company release. 7 Oct. 2010. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.]