What to Know
- Toy sales have fallen 5.5% year to date, but analysts expect a strong fourth quarter for toy manufacturers and retailers.
- Licensed toys, in particular, are outpacing industry growth, seeing a 5% bump in the third quarter.
- Fortnite, Pokemon, Baby Shark and entertainment properties such as Marvel and "Toy Story" are among the top-selling items.
The holiday season is fast approaching, and toys are already flying off the shelves.
The toy industry is poised for growth this year as it faces weak comparisons with last year's holiday season, which was the first without Toys R Us. The closing of the toy retailer hurt sales last year, because parents stocked up on toys at liquidation sales earlier in the year.
This year, parents will want to plan carefully because there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, something that hasn't happened since 2013. According to the NPD Group, there was a surge in sales during the final week before Christmas during that shortened season six years ago.
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"We should expect the same levels of growth this year during the week of Christmas; and with the online channel becoming less of an option as we get closer to Christmas day, it's a great opportunity for brick and mortar stores to gain share," Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor at The NPD Group, said in a report last week. "Retailers need to have the inventory on shelves through Christmas Eve or risk losing out on this last minute rush."
A lot is riding on the next few weeks, since toy sales have fallen 5.5% year to date. Lennett expects a strong fourth quarter because momentum has improved. The third quarter saw a 3% bump in sales, buoyed by purchases of L.O.L. Surprise packs, Marvel toys, Barbie dolls and Nerf blasters.
Licensed toys, in particular, are outpacing industry growth, seeing a 5% bump in the most recent period. Fortnite, Pokemon, Baby Shark and entertainment properties such as Marvel and "Toy Story" were among the top-selling items.
"The upcoming movie releases of 'Frozen 2' and 'Star Wars' will be an additional growth driver this holiday season as consumers buy toys that relate to those films," Lennett said.
Here's a closer look at the hottest toys this 2019 holiday season:
Disney 'Frozen' Ultimate Arendelle Castle Playset
"Frozen II" is now out in theaters, and it's destined to be one of the few things kids will talk about until the holidays — and well beyond.
There are hundreds of different "Frozen"-inspired toys on shelves, ranging from plush and dolls to mini-figures and Funko Pops.
The Ultimate Arendelle Castle Playset stands over five feet tall and has four floors with seven different rooms, including a kitchen, music room and throne room. While the set does not come with the Anna and Elsa dolls, it does have several accessories.
The playset comes with items such as a piano, throne, banquet table, sofa and vanity. It also has a button on the top of the tower that starts a colorful light show.
My Robotic Pet: Tumbling Hedgehog
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) toys remain popular with kids and parents.
The Tumbling Hedgehog from Thames & Kosmos is a 172-piece kit. When it's put together, kids will have their very own robotic hedgehog that can be programmed to tumble, roll and spin.
The hedgehog takes one to two hours to construct, so it's recommended for children over the age of 7, if they have an adult to help with the building portion, or 10 and older for solo play.
Marvel's 'Avengers: Endgame' Power Gauntlet
Fans of Marvel's "Avengers: Endgame" young and old can enjoy Hasbro'sHAS Iron Man Power Gauntlet. The piece is a premium role-play item and features working lights and sounds.
The articulated fingers can be controlled from inside the gauntlet and used for play or can be manipulated and locked for display.
Star Wars Scream Saber Lightsaber
Want to be a Jedi — or a Sith — but don't like the traditional buzzing sound of a lightsaber? The Star Wars Scream Saber is the perfect alternative.
The roleplay item allows you to record a short sound bite or choose from a selection of pre-recorded sounds. Once you've input your sound, a "meow," a scream or some other wacky noise or word, the saber will repeat it every time you swing the toy.
Paw Patrol Super Mighty Pups Lookout Tower
One of the hottest entertainment properties in the world is "Paw Patrol." From figurines to plush, kids can't get enough of Ryder, Marshall, Skye and the rest of the Paw Patrol gang.
The Paw Patrol Super Mighty Pups Lookout Tower stands just under three feet tall and features a working telescope. Kids can push the button on the tower to receive missions from Ryder and make use of a plastic zip line to get the pups ready to save the day.
Pinkfong Baby Shark Official Song Doll
The earworm that kids can't stop singing has been transformed into dozens of toys for the holidays.
WowWee has brought to market a plush version of the three baby sharks from Pinkfong's global hit song. Soft on the outside, these baby sharks will play different verses from the Baby Shark song when their tummies are pressed.
Price: $10 and up
Collectibles aren't just for kids. FunkoFNKO has become a cornerstone in the geek merchandise industry with its variety of pop culture figurines. At an affordable price, these Pops make great stocking stuffers.
From "Game of Thrones" and "Harry Potter" to "Dragonball Z" and "Fallout," the company has more than 1,000 different licensed vinyl figures. Expect to see figures from "Frozen II," "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" and "The Mandalorian" flying off shelves this holiday season.
Lego Hidden Side Graveyard Mystery
For those looking to mix traditional building play with new technologies, Lego's Hidden Side Graveyard Mystery could be the perfect gift for the holidays.
Once the set is built, kids can play with it normally or download an augmented reality app that brings the set to life. Using the app, they can find and capture ghosts, play mini-games and unlock new challenges.
Fortnite Jumbo Loot Llama Pinata
Fortnite has become one of the most popular video game franchises of recent years. Parents looking to peel their kids away from the digital world and into physical play should check out the Jumbo Loot Llama Pinata set.
The 25-inch-tall llama pinata needs to be busted open for kids to find the 100 pieces of loot inside, but they'll need to wade through quite a bit of confetti.
At first glance, it may not look like a toy. But kids will be able to let their imaginations run wild with The Nugget.
Gone are the days of draping blankets over stools and chairs to make forts. The Nugget play couch can be configured into different shapes for relaxation and play.
The Nugget comes with four foam pieces: a base, a cushion and two triangle pillows. The play couch is a hot commodity and sells out quickly after it is restocked.
L.O.L. Surprise Winter Disco Chalet
Blind packs and collectibles have always been popular with kids, but L.O.L. Surprise seems to have changed the game.
MGA Entertainment won a Toy of the Year Award for L.O.L. Surprise in 2017 and is not slowing down. Half the fun of buying an L.O.L Surprise is opening it. The dome-shaped case is filled with a doll and several accessories that are each hidden under a layer of plastic. Each time you peel back a layer, you get another surprise.
There are thousands of YouTube videos dedicated to these "unboxings" with millions of views. While the smaller domes can be great stocking stuffers, MGA is offering up a massive doll house, the Winter Disco Chalet, this holiday season that contains more than 95 "surprises."
Nerf Ultra One Blaster
Nerf continues to be a bestseller for Hasbro. This year, the company launched a new blaster with darts that fly farther than a Nerf dart has ever flown.
The Ultra One Blaster has a high-capacity motorized drum that holds 25 specialized darts and fires them up to 120 feet. The darts are still designed with safety in mind and are made of foam and rubber.
This story first appeared on CNBC.com More from CNBC: