Playmobil teases major new partnership with classic TV IP The A Team

Playmobil could be igniting the passions of kidult audiences across the UK once again with another heavy dose of nostalgia. And this time it’s taking the form of The A Team.

Playmobil UK has teased a new partnership in the retro property space, releasing an 11-second snippet via social media this morning, hinting towards a major new project with the A Team IP.

The clip gives very little away, other than an alliance has been formed between the toymaker and the iconic A Team property, although the firm’s choice of hashtags could offer some hint as to what it has up its sleeves.

Playmobil has made a success of tapping into the retro and classic IP space, having launched the wildly popular Back the Future DeLorean and extended play-sets to strong positive reception from a market of nostalgia driven consumers.

Given the popularity of its DeLorean vehicle play-set and its previously launched Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine, and the track record that Playmobil has for converting iconic vehicles from the film and TV space into popular toy lines, it’s certainly not too far fetched to imagine the firm’s A Team partnership resulting in the launch of the iconic A Team van at some point in the near future.

Playmobil has remained tight-lipped about the project, but has stated that two further teaser clips will be released soon.

Nerd is the word | From video gaming to toy collecting, the Insights Family explores the Kidult market

Jurassic Park and Transformers mash-ups, LEGO sets exploring themes of travel, history, science – and iconic worlds of science fiction, of course – and a healthy gaming scene that simply continues to expand and capture new audiences (and that’s just the news this week); the entertainment space is reaching wider audiences and appealing across the generations. Here, The Insights Family’s founder, Nick Richardson explores the topic of the booming Kidult market

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Nostalgia is a powerful tool when marketing products. The emotional pull of recounting past experiences has enabled brands who ordinarily target children to penetrate an older market, expanding their brand presence.

Recently, the kidult trend has accelerated, as adults have reverted to the familiar nature of reliving childhood memories that have provided comfortable experiences in the wake of the pandemic. Some brands have sought partnerships in order to appeal to older audiences for their products which traditionally appeal to younger demographics.

While in our data, the audience for Pokémon in the UK is five to 13-year-olds, the company sought out collaboration with musician Post Malone for its 25th anniversary this year, perhaps aiming to recapture his older teen audience (14 to 18) to celebrate this event. Additionally, the firm’s remake of the Diamond and Pearl editions in the gaming series, originally released in 2006, is a clear attempt to target an older audience of active gamers.

It’s no secret that more adults than ever now play video games. According to our Parents Insights data, gaming is a top five family hobby, as the younger generation of parents who have grown up as gamers themselves carry their hobby into their adult years.

In the UK, LEGO is the most popular toy among kids of every age bracket we survey, but the company is regularly expanding its product offering to target those beyond the initial demographic of kids. This includes creating building sets of flowers and football stadiums, or those themed around travel and history; all aimed at an older audience.

Meanwhile, the popularity of collectables such as Funko Pop! vinyl figures – a top 10 toy for kids aged 11 to 13 in the UK, and a collection of toys that have representation from a range of different IP and brands across different mediums – among adults is indicative of the very real presence of the kidult trend.

Likewise, the effort from Disney to remake and remaster its library of classic animated films for a new generation is also indicative of the older market of fans. The excitement for these films is not only created by the anticipation from kids, but also their parents who want to relive their childhood experiences.

Brands are currently looking to classic brands and IP to guarantee revenue in the fallout of 2020, targeting adults through nostalgic content in the process. Through the success of these films, Disney not only recaptures the imagination of their long-time fans but creates new brand advocates in the younger generation.

In the TV industry, there is also clear evidence of a conscious effort to appeal to this trend. Tracy Beaker returned to screens in February this year in a series designed to appeal to kids and their parents alike. Meanwhile the Biff and Chip reading books, used in schools for more than 30 years, have been made into a TV series, coming to CBeebies.

The growth in popularity of adult cartoons such as Rick and Morty – the favourite show amongst 16 to 18 year olds boys in the UK – is evident that there is a distinct market for mediums traditionally utilised to appeal to younger audiences. Dragon Ball and SpongeBob SquarePants also appear in the top 20 shows among this demographic.

So what, then, does this mean to you?

Well, quite simply, the kidult trend represents an opportunity for brands to expand their revenue streams beyond their kid audiences. By creating collectables that may be aimed at an older demographic, brands can extend their revenue streams while building advocacy with an audience who may pass on their interests to their kids, creating a new generation of fans in the process.

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The Insights Family, is the global leader in kids, parents, and family market intelligence, providing real-time data on their attitudes, behaviour, and consumption patterns. Every year the company survey more than 362,100 kids and more than 176,800 parents.

Finding Neverland | How adult fans are driving toy sales across the UK

There’s no shame in admitting it, toys, games, gaming, and play doesn’t have to have an age limit; something that a growing portion of the UK population can attest to. Last year, the UK’s kidult market hit new heights, fuelled by a pandemic that left grown ups and kids at heart with a lot more time on their hands to revisit their old passions. Given the audience size, it’s a market that can’t be stopped

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A factoid that gets overheard often when you spend any length of time within a city setting, is that you’re at no point, more than seven feet away from a mouse. The same could probably be said for Funko Pop! figures.

In fact, the statistic is likely somewhat higher. Higher still if you swap out specifics for the term now used to categorise a demographic of people that appears to be expanding at an alarming rate. If the most recent NPD figures are anything to go by, the UK’s ‘kidult’ sector, that is the adult audience of toy fans, appears to be, well, breeding like mice.

Accounting for a staggering 27 per cent of the total toy sales here in the UK for the year end 2020, the kidult sector is one that can be, by any means, no longer ignored.

What started decades ago, with the advent of the pop culture consumer products scene has shifted from an underground following of ‘ultra-nerdom’ to a mainstream – if not staple – sector within the UK toy space. Time was, tell a room full of adults about your collection of Transformers toys or your Mage level in the latest tabletop campaign, you’d be faced with stifled chortles and a lifetime of social isolation. Today, those self-confessed nerds are our celebrities, our pop icons, and our sports stars. And that’s OK. These days, when it comes to the topic of adult collectors of toys games, there really is no kidding around.

Take the pop culture gift and consumer products specialist, Fanattik, for instance. In its last financial year report, the firm found itself up around 123 per cent. We’re all aware that 2020 will forever be classed as a ‘freak’ year for sales figures, with online shopping helping drive sales in sectors that wouldn’t necessarily be replicated on the high street, but how would you account for the 40 per cent growth, year on year, that Fanattik has enjoyed each year before Covid-19?

“Traditionally, we never supplied toy retail, our focus was always on the gift trade,” Fanattik’s managing director, Anthony Marks, tells ToyNews. “But enquiries from the toy sector dramatically increased last year, retailers were looking for something different to add to their online offering, and the ones that trialed our range never looked back.”

It’s become a common narrative across the toy industry that the kidult audience is being recognised and catered to at a growing pace by companies and retailers once more aligned with the traditional children’s audience. There’s a reason that the Toymaster catalogue has started including Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons & Dragons, just as it has welcomed Games Workshop into the fold in recent years, and why Pokemon Trading Card Game sales are in the midst of a world-wide resurgence, and why the local toy shop is just a likely to stock miniatures painting kits as it is Jellycat plush toys for pre-schoolers.

The audience for toys today is multi-generational.

“The genie is out of the bottle,” exclaims Marks. “Just look at the success Playmobil has had with its Back to the Future range. The retailers we are speaking with throughout Europe say that they will always have shelf-space for the latest blockbuster, but the iconic film and gaming brands cannot be ignored anymore.”

Late last month, Fanattik released details of a major new partnership with Hasbro and its Wizards of the Coast segment through which it will launch a range of licensed gifts and collectables based on its Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons gaming franchises. It’s a marker of success for the firm that has managed to carve a reputable name for itself in a market notoriously protective of its favoured IP. Marks has high hopes that the range will replicate the success retailers saw with Fanattik’s Yu-Gi-Oh! ranges when the collection launches in Q3 this year.

“We do not go for the latest film or game release, it has to be a brand with multi-generational appeal, an existing fanbase that
due to the market’s focus on the latest game or film release, finds itself being ignored,” says Marks.

“The Kidult sector has been growing year on year, and the pandemic gave it a major push forward. With no new film releases, for example, fans were going back and watching their old favourites and introducing those films to family members who missed it, or were too young to appreciate them the first time around.

“There are also millions of new gamers that have been created by having to spend more time at home, and that’s an audience that cannot be ignored either.”

This article – and a more in depth look at some of the firms taking on the ‘kidult’ sector – appears in the Spring/Summer issue of ToyNews.

No Kiddin’ Around | Why Playmobil is taking the adult fan market seriously this year and beyond

It doesn’t take a DeLorean for a journey into your own past, but it certainly does help, as more and more toy companies are seeing audience numbers increase across their kidult product offering. Among them, is Playmobil, a company that is blazing a new trail with its expanded Back to the Future line-up this year.

For Playmobil, the kidult market has become big business. In tandem with the growth of the sector across the entire market, the Germany-based international toy maker has seen ‘substantial growth’ in the kidult market over the last four years. And it’s a trend that has given us some of the most eye-bulging launches in the space to date, from Ghostbusters and Back to the Future play-sets, to the retro appeal of Scooby-Doo.

In January this year, the NPD Group confirmed the growing appeal of the kidult market; an audience now responsible for more than a quarter of toy sales. In its year-end update the group revealed that this adult and teen category now represents 27 per cent of total toy sales, up by 16 per cent since 2016. Fuelled by adults with more time on their hands over 2020, home entertainment, it would seem, no encompasses physical play more than ever before.

So it’s just as well, then, that Playmobil has plans to remain consistent with its emerging new adult audience for the foreseeable future. Here, ToyNews catches up with Playmobil’ marketing communications manager, Adam Moore to explore the company’s success and future plans in the kidult space.

Hi Adam, harking back to the virtual tour you took us on earlier this year, it’s great to see a gear change in output targeting the kidult market from Playmobil this year. Can you tell us how important this market has become for you guys?

Playmobil has seen substantial growth in the Kidult market in the last four years. This was continued in 2020 with the Playmobil 70317 Back to the Future DeLorean which was one of our best performing sets. In 2021 we have more fantastic play sets to offer kidults and collectors including the new Volkswagen Camper and Beetle. The market has allowed adults who remember Playmobil so fondly from their childhood, to re experience the brand now they are a bit older.

What sort of growth have you seen across the kidult sector over the last few years? What have been the key drivers of this growth over the course of 2020?

Kidult’s have become a much bigger part of the toy market in the last few years. Adults are looking for product that is cool and great for collecting. We have experienced this trend in recent years with licenses such as Ghostbusters™ and Porsche, and more recently the 202o launch of the Playmobil Back to the Future product. This audience always wants more to add to their collection so new additions add new experiences and collectability, Playmobil continues to keep the audience engaged with new items like the 70634 Back to the Future Part II Hover board Chase.

 It’s been documented that the pandemic has helped fuel that kidult market, but it was very much on the rise prior to Covid. How long has it been on the Playmobil radar, and will you guys keep a hand in this market for the foreseeable future?

Playmobil has been catering for the Kidult market for a number of years. It remains a continued part of our plans across 2021 with new launches for Back to the Future and new licenses like Volkswagen. There may even be some surprises for kidult fans later in the year.

“The Kidult market is an important part of Playmobil business and continues to grow, there is so much potential out there for Playmobil to continue strongly in this category.”

What do you think Playmobil brings to that kidult market and the demand for nostalgia driven IPs and products? Why is Playmobil an ideal partner for tapping into that kidult market and pop culture demand?

Playmobil brings a true representative look and feel of some iconic licenses and vehicles. It’s a good mix of keeping the look and feel of these iconic license but also adding a Playmobil feel with our own characters. We are able to fuse the need for a true look and feel for the collector but also incorporate a sense of individuality and uniqueness.

 The Back to the Future range is brilliantly executed, what was the process of working with the IP like? What are the creative processes in bringing such a cult classic to the play space through Playmobil?

The Back to the Future range was a really exciting license to work with. The team at Universal continue to support and celebrate the franchise. The original film was 35 years old in 2020 so there was a lot to shout about and a lot going on with retailers, even with the unusual circumstances retail was in last year.

The license continues to be a huge success in 2021 and with the new sets out in May and a further Back to the future advent calendar released in September it is due to be another great year for Playmobil and Back to the Future.

 Likewise, the Scooby Doo collection speaks to multiple audiences, with a nostalgia heavy design – how do you strike the balance between targeting the two audiences?

Scooby-Doo has had such a long history with children watching for over 50 years! It was only natural that Playmobil’s tie up with this iconic legacy brand would speak to multiple audiences. The great thing about Scooby-Doo is that the characters, especially Scooby are so recognisable.

This makes it easy for young children all the way up to adults to identify with the brand in its Playmobil form. When you add into the mix the other iconic elements like the famous Mystery Machine and other well known scenes from the brand, it makes talking to both audiences easier.

 What future do you see for the kidult market in the toy space and in particular, its importance to Playmobil? Is it an area that will only grow stronger?

The Kidult market is an important part of Playmobil business and continues to grow, there is so much potential out there for Playmobil to continue strongly in this category and continue to create toys not just for kids but adults and collectors too.

What’s the next step for you guys in the kidult market space?

We have some new and exciting offerings in the Kidult and collectors market coming up. In May with have two new Back to the Future sets as well as more new Scooby-Doo additions in June

There is some exciting news in July, as we have two brand new special edition Volkswagen Campers and Beetles that will come as part of a limited edition run. Each product will have a individual serial number on the bottom of the product and feature chrome effect detailing making them extra special and perfect for collectors.