Retro Toys – Who’s Buying Them?

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The shelves are packed with toys with a cross generational appeal, but which demographic is buying most? As Christmas looms ahead, thoughts move towards the hottest toys this year and parents steel themselves in the annual slog to make sure they get the sought after merchandise. And so do a lot of grown men. The recent trend for retro toys has had an impact on the sort of shopper we find in toy stores and online. A two tier market has developed, stimulated by an increase in retro culture. The TV schedules and multiplexes are filled with remakes – The Dukes of Hazzard, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Starsky and Hutch, Bewitched, Doctor Who and Star Wars have all made an outing in the last year alone. But as these remakes and rehashes appear vying for an audience, the question has to be asked – who is the audience? These films have a cross-generational appeal – the kids they are strictly catered for and the kids who watched them the first time around. The impact on the commercial worlds is profound. The merchandising industry which inevitably surrounds the movie and TV world knows all too well of the two tier market and are all too happy to fill some of the shelves for their newfound taller customers. The web is a fertile marketplace for the bigger kids, with DVD and film sites such as catering for cult and retro films almost exclusively. Similarly, a large number of online toy stores such as are springing up with the intention of selling merchandise – Doctor Who Toys, Star Wars Toys - with a specifically grown–up appeal. With the trend for Hollywood to look retrospectively in it’s efforts to fill the multiplexes, the trend for retro toys looks set to continue. A look at the forthcoming releases – King Kong, Wonder Woman, Indiana Jones 4 – tells us that that the big boys will be pushing you out of the way to get to their favourite toys in Christmases to come.

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