When we’re not in the studio conjuring up trend-led designs, developing creative strategy and most importantly making sure it all resonates at retail for our lovely clients, the PowerStation Studios team are out and about. We’re constantly searching for inspiration and keeping a close eye on global and local trends in entertainment, fashion, graphics, art, gaming, culture… the list goes on! London Toy Fair last week was no exception.

It’s a challenging time for the Toy market. Consumer demands are shifting at lightning pace, driven by demanding Millennial parents and the rise of first generation of true digital natives – Generation Alpha. Technology is developing breakneck speed; the popularity of video games is soaring; and perceptions are starting to shift globally towards the need to act for a sustainable future.

After scouring the show and talking to innovators in the space, we saw the emergence of new themes in contrast to the normal glitter, slime, brightly coloured collectables and shiny new tech.


As the world wakes up to the need for change, it is of fundamental importance that industry begins to follow suit. At the beginning of this month we welcomed the news that the licensing industry is holding its very first sustainability conference – Sustainability in Licensing (SILC), and although we all have a long way to go before we can call ourselves 100% green, it was reassuring to see companies within the toy industry starting to take action.

Keycraft’s Living Nature SMOL’s are new a range of plush toys designed to “embrace the wonder of nature”. The toys are made from recycled post-consumer PET plastic, which is mostly found in plastic containers and bottles. The critters are aimed at animal lovers and wildlife enthusiasts of all ages, and along with the existing tags containing fun facts about the animal, customers will now see how many plastic bottles were used in the making of their new furry friend.

Living Nature – Smols Plush Toys

With plastic waste being a huge concern for customers, many brands are responding by introducing wooden toys, for a more conscious approach. For example, Orange Tree Toys marine themed wooden collection, which similarly to the Living Nature range helps to raise awareness in children of the damage caused to the oceans by plastic.

Also notable is the concept of packaging as a part of the play pattern, with many toys coming in packs which can be built and kept either as part of the play pattern or as storage. This more conscious approach helps to encourage kids away from a mentality of immediately discarding seemingly superfluous elements.

Muro – Midi Pack Play Set


“Our approach to sustainability is vital to the toy market, the need for sustainability through design is a factor that many toy makers seem to overlook”.

Jeremy Bond – Founder, MURO:

PowerStation Studios had the opportunity to talk with Jeremy Bonds, Founder of MURO – a company which only released their first toys in December 2017 and have since received a plethora of awards for their designs. Jeremy explained, “Our approach to sustainability is vital to the toy market, the need for sustainability through design is a factor that many toy makers seem to overlook”. Their modular busy boards are made of sustainable rubber wood and all elements are interchangeable. The design is truly innovative in the way they are designed to grow and develop as the child does, a departure from the throwaway nature of many children’s play items as they quickly outgrow them. MURO also falls firmly into the category of educational play, which leads us nicely onto our next theme.

STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Art and Mathematics) – Outdoor Edutainment

With STEAM toys growing in popularity, PowerStation Studios noted a number of brands showcasing playsets focussing specifically on learning about nature and the outdoors.

Indoor gardening kits are a great way to engage kids’ and spark their interest in nature through educational play. For example, Build & Grow Co.’s 3D Puzzle Garden, which is designed with ‘education and development of the child in mind’. Made using eco-friendly materials, this product comes flat packed with easy to build designs, each with a specific ‘garden’ area.

Insect Lore – Giant Butterly Garden Set

Brands such as Insect Lore have found a unique and interactive way to educate children about the lifespan and growth of butterflies, bugs and plant-based wildlife. Their Live Butterfly Kits come with the apparatus to observe caterpillars grow from early development into fully grown butterflies, at which point they are set free. The kits contain a code to order your caterpillars that are sent out to your address, and from there you can easily watch and learn about how they transform into magnificent butterflies.

We saw many opportunities for the licensing industry within this space, and Insect Lore teaming up with Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar is a brilliant and authentic collaboration. In addition, both brands celebrate their 50th anniversaries this year.

No-Tech Toys- Nostalgic and Battery Free

Amongst an array of innovation and modern toys, we saw many brands offering toys which were reminiscent of, or in some cases identical to the toys that the parents purchasing them would have played with themselves as kids. When it’s the parents parting with their hard-earned cash, tapping into warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia could help to sway a purchase in a crowded market.

We saw a huge display of marbles, although some were updated with emoji style faces many were designed as they would have been sold decades ago.

There were many board games on display, which help to facilitate much needed family time demanded by parents, and with the added benefit of helping adults as well as kids spend needed time away from screens. Steering slightly away from our no-tech theme, we are seeing some classic play-patterns being updated with modern tech, such as audio.

Hasbro’s Monopoly Voice Banking is a great example. The game uses voice recognition, and with Mr. Monopoly managing all transactions via his top hat, there is no longer any need for cash or cards in the game.

Jigsaw puzzles featured heavily, and we loved the collaboration between Gibsons Games and various well-known food brands such as Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Pringles and Marmite, with the pieces being packed in containers which resemble almost exactly the packaging they represent. We also loved the Rubik’s Cube puzzle box.

Gibsons Games – Pringles, Marmite, Keloggs and Rubiks Puzzles

A welcome blast from the past was the glow in the dark moons and stars from Original Glow Star Company, who have been lighting up our bedrooms for more than 30 years. In the present day there are now a multitude of designs available, from fantastical unicorns to somewhat more educational planets.

The Original Glow Star Company – Glow Stars

With Toy Fair season well underway, we’re looking forward to seeing what Nuremberg and New York bring to the party. We’re excited to be attending Toy Fair New York from the 22nd February, if you’d like to catch up get in touch on info@powerstation-studios.co.uk

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