Years of financial chaos and economic downturn have failed to put a dampener on the US$86 billion global toy market, the boss of the industry's biggest trade show says.
Ernst Kick, chief executive of Germany's Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair, which takes place annually in the Bavarian city of Nurnberg, was in Auckland this week to promote the event.
Despite the 2008 financial crisis and its ongoing aftermath, such as the eurozone's sovereign debt troubles, the global toy market had continued to grow at a rate of 3 to 4 per cent a year and could reach US$90 billion ($113 billion) in 2013, Kick said.
California-based Mattel - the world's biggest toy company by revenue - reported a 7 per cent increase in total sales to US$6.3 billion last year, with net profit rising 12 per cent to US$768.5 million.
While many consumers may have cut back on luxuries over the past few years, Kick said parents had continued to fork out cash for toys.
He said the growth the industry continued to enjoy was mainly being driven by strong consumer demand in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil.
Back in Europe, Kick said toy markets in the economies hardest-hit by the sovereign debt crisis, such as Spain and Italy, were suffering.
However, the German toy industry had grown 5 per cent during the first half of this year, he said.
According to a European Union report, the retail toy market in the EU was valued at €15.5 billion ($24 billion) in 2010, a decrease of 2 per cent on the previous year.
Figures on the New Zealand toy market are hard to come by, but one industry insider estimated it could be worth about $500 million annually.
Kick said one of the hot trends at the toy fair, set to take place in January and February next year, would be smartphone and tablet computer-controlled toys.
The fair, which was founded in 1950, now takes place across a 160,000sq m site, and attracts roughly 75,000 buyers and traders from 120 countries, as well as more than 2700 exhibitors, each year.
It features over one million toys and around 70,000 new products.
The biggest exhibitor was Mattel, he said, whose exhibition area covered 2500sq m.
Kick said three New Zealand toy manufacturers would be exhibiting at this year's fair, including Wellington's Wishbone Design Studio, whose products include wooden walkers and bikes, and cardboard toy maker Flatout Frankie.
More than 100 Kiwi importers also visit the show each year.By Christopher Adams Email Christopher