Price will be king at the 2009 New York Toy Fair

Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:14am EST
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By Aarthi Sivaraman

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Don't expect to see $180 toy puppies or a $300 animated dinosaur when toy makers unveil their latest products next week at the 2009 American International Toy Fair.

The recession has squelched the buying power of even the most indulgent parents. Toy makers must tread carefully with their new lineups as consumers are torn between the desire to spend on their children and the need to save money.

"Price, value and the economy are going to be the key focus," said Reyne Rice, a toy trends specialist for the Toy Industry Association (TIA).

"That is what retailers are looking for, and that's what they are hearing from their consumers," she said. "They want to make sure that the products on their shelves reflect not only what consumers are looking for, but what they can afford."

The 2009 American International Toy Fair, which runs from February 15-18, is expected to draw hundreds of toy makers and retailers to the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.

Safety concerns after a sweeping recall led to millions of toys and calls for higher testing standards dominated last year's event.

Worries about the safety of toys have largely been replaced this year by the dire economy. But toy makers may not have had enough time to reshape plans to respond to the recession. New toys are usually designed one to two years in advance, said Gerrick Johnson, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets.

"They've had enough time to kill projects that may have been expensive," he said. "I don't know if there was enough time to develop a whole bunch of new, inexpensive toys."   Continued...