Big-Name Content Creators Eye Toy Industry

The phenomenon of influencers expanding their brands into the toy industry in a big way goes back to the mid-2010s. There has been a burst of activity lately, with a range of personalities, including some very big names, jumping into the space:

  • In January 2024, Moose Toys announced a new relationship with MrBeast (a.k.a. Jimmy Donaldson), for a line of toys that captures the ferocious look and feel of his teal and fuchsia panther logo. Launching in fall 2024, the range will include action figures and collectibles for adults and kids, which MrBeast will promote to his more than 234 million subscribers on YouTube. Moose describes the new toy range as extensive, highly innovative, and disruptive. Recognized as the top digital creator in number of followers, MrBeast is known for endurance challenges and philanthropic giveaways. His other business expansions include a snack brand called Feastables and a restaurant chain called MrBeast Burger.
  • Bonkers Toys paired with Moriah Elizabeth, a DIY and crafting influencer, in November 2023. She maintains one of the top arts and crafts channels on YouTube with more than 9 million subscribers. The products debuted in Walmart stores with series one of a range of mystery plush based on characters she created. A comprehensive toy line including full-sized plush, collectible figures, and giant mystery eggs is set to release in the fall. A year earlier, Bonkers paired with Addison Rae, a lifestyle influencer who got her start with dance videos and has expanded into beauty and fragrance, for a collection of fashion dolls. Bonkers is known for its tie-ins with influencers, including its long-time relationship with Ryan Kaji of Ryan’s World, the top children’s and family influencer with more than 41 million YouTube subscribers.
  • Spin Master signed a global master licensing agreement in November with Ms. Rachel (Rachel Griffin-Accurso), an early learning educator known for her music-based videos for babies and toddlers. The collection of developmental and early childhood learning toys is set to debut in fall 2024. Ms. Rachel’s research-based videos, which support language development and other early childhood milestones, reach 50 million unique monthly viewers and generate 400 million monthly views. Products in the range will include plush, puzzles, playsets, vehicles, role-play toys, and learning aids. Spin Master recently acquired the educational toy company Melissa & Doug.
  • WeVeel announced the launch of The Influencer Initiative just over a year ago, in November 2022, with its first two influencers being Boss Baby Brody and Along Came Abby. The program consists of a line of toys and crafts created in collaboration with social media influencers, with 10% of proceeds donated to a nonprofit. Boss Baby Brody (a.k.a. Brody Schaffer, age 7 at the time of the deal) has 630,000 Instagram and more than three million TikTok followers and is known for his music and dancing. Along Came Abby (a.k.a. Abby Terry, age 6 at the time of the deal) has 370,000 followers on Instagram and three million-plus on TikTok. She is known for her joyous and cheerful storytelling. The initial line encompassed 10 products including Brody’s dough and wooden activity sets that teach ABCs, counting, and self-expression, and Abby’s silly but educational card games, dough activity sets, and wooden play sets. The line has expanded to include products with several social media-famous artists and illustrators, including Kate McFarlane, Arielle Vey, Jason Naylor, and Belinda Kou.

The benefits to toy companies of pairing with influencers are many, including their strong levels of consumer awareness within their niche (and sometimes more broadly); their well-defined and easy-to-reach audiences; their aura of authenticity; the fact that their fans get to know them as people and trust their products to be in alignment with their beliefs; their knowledge of their followers and what they want in a product; and their ability to market to and demonstrate the new products directly to their fan community (without falling afoul of children’s marketing regulations).

No wonder so many influencers with relevance to the toy industry, from young children such as Vlad and Niki, CKN, Like Nastya, and of course Ryan—among many others—to adults from Collins and Devan Key to Tyler “Ninja” Blevens, have entered this category over the years. While not all are successful, the benefits are enticing enough for toy marketers to keep taking a risk on new influencer-branded launches.

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