“Millennial parents care about how things look in their homes,” Ms. Weiner said. The nursery needs to be Instagrammable with wooden toys in neutral colors or a whimsical play tent in a harmless shade of grey. Gen Z, meanwhile, seems more interested in toys that are going viral on TikTok, like squishmallows, round, pillow-like stuffed animals that come in different characters.
I asked if it was the hard yellow plastic frame that my favorite toy fit in. Woman. Waller said plastics are still popular despite consumers’ explicit desire for sustainable materials like wood and fabric. “I’ll tell you, the plastic toy industry is going nowhere,” Ms. said. Waller said. “They don’t buy that way.”
(Ms. Golinkoff, the professor who studies children’s games, confirmed that American parents “love anything with a battery.”)
Kids 2 conducts polls and panels to decide which new toys to design and subscribes to trend forecasting agencies like WGSN and Trend Bible to find out what colors, patterns and themes will appeal. Plant patterns are great right now, Ms. Waller said. “Aloe plants and cacti,” she said. “There’s just something homely and cozy about indoor plants.”
As a parent, I noticed this: Suddenly, a surprising animal is everywhere in the children’s department. In recent years it’s been the flamingo, the sloth, the llama and of course the longtime unicorn.
“There was a narwhal moment,” Ms. Waller said, and my mind shot to the many stuffed narwhals around my house, many rainbow-colored, my children’s desires ultimately shaped by the toy companies’ sales decisions.
Unfortunately I was able to Ms. Waller to explain exactly why Kids 2 smashed the bug. Reading between the lines of our conversation, however, it was clear that my many newborn purchases hadn’t been enough to drive sales enough for retailers to insist the company keep supplying it.
Seven-month-old Mira contributed to the coverage.