Retro Toys are back (again)

Retro is a big theme at this year’s Toy Fair in London. A wall featuring this year’s top toys is filled with classics including Stretch Armstrong, a supersize Thunderbird playset and, of course, the Teletubbies.

Teletubbies are expected to make a comeback this year. An unexpected success in the late 1990s – at one point it was almost impossible to get your hands on one of the teddies – it’s hoped they will prove popular once again.

Character Options, one of the biggest UK-based toy companies with a turnover of £55m, bought the rights to manufacture and distribute the dolls 18 months ago. The Oldham-based company, which started selling them earlier this month, spent around £500,000 on product development and has set aside another £1m for marketing.

“Anything in the toy industry extent is a gamble. You spend first, and wait for the sales afterwards. But it’s a calculated gamble. We know Teletubbies were successful before, and the BBC has recently launched a new TV series, so we’re working around that,” says Kiran Shah, Character’s finance director.

The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) said the re-launch of many old favourites would boost sales following the industry’s highest growth in five years in 2015.  A new-look Scalextric and other retro refits will add fresh sales, it said.

“We think that for 2016 retro licences will help to sustain the growth,” Natasha Crookes, of the BTHA, told the BBC.

Nostalgia among new parents for the toys they grew up with is behind the resurgence, she said.  And with both Dangermouse and Noddy launching new TV series this year, she might just be right!


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