Fans of the cult classic movie “The Hudsucker Proxy” will remember that the main character kept describing his invention of the hula hoop as being, “you know, for kids.” But top toy companies are looking beyond the youth demographic this holiday season and plan to pitch more of their products to a demographic with more spending money: grownups.
The toy giants realize that many adults aren’t just looking to buy toys for their children, grandkids, nieces and nephews. Companies like Hasbro
(HAS) are increasingly looking to adults (and not just parents) as buyers for nostalgic products, whether its gifts for older loved ones, friends or for themselves.
“Our principal approach is serving the adult fan with the best collectibles,” said Kwamina Crankson, senior vice president and general manager of Hasbro Direct, the division that runs the Hasbro Pulse site. “These are fans of brands, stories and characters.”
Crankson told CNN Business he expects strong demand for toys tied to brands like Transformers (a voice-activated Optimus Prime that transforms by itself!) and G.I. Joe as well as licensed characters from Disney
(DIS)-owned Star Wars and Marvel.
Toy companies and other collectibles makers clearly recognize that grown-up shoppers are still invested in the brands that they played with as kids.
“It’s all about nostalgia,” said Andrew Perlmutter, CEO of Funko
(FNKO), which makes the Pop! brand of vinyl figurines, in an interview with CNN Business.
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader from “Star Wars” are top-selliers, according to Funko’s web site. So is a figurine and can of soda combo featuring the late guitar legend Jimi Hendirx. Perlmutter said the average age of Funko customers is around 35.
Funko is even branching more into food and snacks to try and capture the sweet tooth of older customers. The company is now selling Funko-branded candy to go along with its Funko cereal.
The company is also launching a store in Inglewood, Calif. in 2023 called Tha Dogg House, which will feature collectibles inspired by rapper Snoop Dogg.
Perlmutter said that the store, which is near SoFi Stadium, where the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers football team both play, is a perfect example of how Funko hopes to attract adult music and sports fans.
(MAT) is hoping to cash in from more adults buying toys for other grown-ups as well. Mattel
(MAT) president and chief operating officer Richard Dickson said on the company’s latest earnings call with analysts in July that the company has an “accelerated focus on our adult fans” of the Hot Wheels brand of collectible toy cars.
Mattel also announced a partnership this summer with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to begin selling “Space-X inspired” collectible toys under the Matchbox brand beginning in 2023.
Even Build-A-Bear Workshop
(BBW), the popular chain in shopping malls that lets customers, as the name of the store implies, build their own stuffed bears (and other stuffed animals), is starting to reach out to older collectibles customers.
“It feels like older people are coming into the stores and that’s not by accident,” said Build-A-Bear CEO Sharon Price John, noting that this is the 25th anniversary of the chain. So a kid who was eight when the store was founded in 1997 turns 33 this year.
With that in mind, Price John said Build-A-Bear has popular plush toys tied to hit 1980s movies such as “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “E.T.” and “Gremlins.”
Build-A-Bear also has a specific line of “After Dark” collectibles in its Bear Cave section for older shoppers.
“The Bear Cave has more lighthearted products for adults,” Price John said, including some bears drinking a glass (or bottle) of wine.
The varietal for these ursine oenophiles? A nice red CaBEARnet, naturally.