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The Expectation of Surprise Toys!

By John Schulte

It should not come as a surprise that kids love surprises: birthdays, parties — these are traditional celebrations that often center around the surprise element. The anticipation of who will give who a Valentine, the shock of sneaking up on someone — whether scheduled, scripted, or spontaneous, surprises rock kids to their core. It’s fun at its finest.

So it should not be a surprise that some of the recent flurry of successful toys orbit around surprises. Often, the surprise is the toy itself, tucked in a shelled egg and hatched to reveal itself, which contributes to the toy’s collectible appeal. Hatchimals from Spin Master is a recent example, where kids rub the heart on an egg and activate a color change from purple to pink, signaling the moment to crack open the egg and reveal what the cute “collEGGtible” is on the inside.

MGA’s L.O.L. Surprise! is another cloaked collectible that has shown legs and popularity as a girls collectible. With this toy line, surprises come in layers: as each layer is unboxed, a new surprise is unveiled; these accessories each thematically tie to the li’l doll that is at the core of the collectible. From secret messages and stickers to action features (like water color-changing) that often activate a special surprise, L.O.L Surprise! are smartly developed toys that adapt, change, and transform in sweet and charming ways

Pikmi Pops Surprise from Moose Toys are sweet-scented lollipop-styled toys that contain colorful characters chockfull of emoji-designed excess. Each Pikmi Pop holds a surprise pun-packed message that’s evocative of the character, like Ollie the Bear, whose sentiment is, “I’ll always be bear for you!”

The toy industry historically pays tribute to trends: if there’s one toy line that’s themed this way, you can bet there will be another and another and another that tries to better the pitch and hit the strike zone. Picking up on the classic trope of providing kids a tool to experience a surprise effect — and adding the collectible angle to ensure the play pattern can be shared — is not an unexpected event for toy manufacturers. Indeed, judging from the breadth of all the toy lines noted, plus a plethora of others (Furuta Surprise Eggs, Kinder Surprise, Num Noms, Grossery Gang, Tsum Tsum, Surprizamals, Smooshins), the biggest surprise in the surprise toy trend is that the market appears to have ample room for more, more, more.

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