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Toys getting smaller and cheaper as inflation slams shoppers

Retailers are poised to push smaller and less expensive toys this holiday season — a bid to tempt skittish shoppers as inflation hikes prices for everything from gas to groceries.

MGA Entertainment, maker of LOL Surprise and Bratz dolls, is launching more than 200 new toys that are priced at or below $10, including many that will hit stores next month, chief executive Isaac Larian said. That’s versus 10 or 15 new toys that were $10 or less last year.

“We are going after that market because people have less money to spend,” Larian told The Post.

Elsewhere, one of last year’s hit toys, Got2Glow Fairies, now comes in a downsized version that costs $25 versus $40 for the original, according to its Canada-based manufacturer WowWee. Among WowWee’s newest toys is a line of three-inch dolls called Fashion Fidgets, recently selling on Amazon for $8 each.

Walmart partnered with WowWee on the item and helped direct the pricing, said Andrew Yanofsky, WowWee’s head of marketing.

Three Fashion Fidget dolls.
These three-inch Fashion Fidget dolls from WowWee cost less than $10, the sweet spot for toys this holiday season.

“Some of our biggest initiatives this year are affordable price points,” Yanofsky told The Post.

Unlike last year, when retailers and toy makers were worried that they wouldn’t have enough product to sell, they have been focused this fall on clearing goods — including bigger, pricier items that didn’t arrive in time for the 2021 holidays. Some of the plans were already being laid last year, when shipping costs soared and larger toys took up too much space in containers that cost $20,000 to ship from Asia to the US.

“Retailers started pushing back on bigger packages and telling us that they want to dedicate more space on their shelves for lower price points,” Joshua Loerzel, co-owner of Sky Castle Toys told The Post. “Now we have retail channels that are flooded with big-ticket items that were hard to move in the first part of the year.”

Mini Bratz dolls in their packages.
These Mini Bratz dolls from MGA Entertainment cost $10 were introduced this year and are one third of the price of the original 11-inch Bratz dolls.
MGA Entertainment

Accordingly, most of Sky Castle Toys’ line-up for the holidays is in the $10-and-below category, Loerzel said. Those include DoodleJamz — squishy drawing pads that are filled with gel and sell for $9.99, versus a larger version priced at $25 when it was first introduced in June 2021. 

“We saw right away that we needed to pivot to a lower price point,” Loerzel said.

Toy giant Hasbro flagged “higher inventory levels” as it delivered lackluster third quarter results, warning it expects this year’s revenue will be “flat” compared to 2021. Its weak results were “further impacted by increasing price sensitivity for the average consumer,” CEO Chris Cocks said. Mattel also warned of “increased volatility in the market” last month as it trimmed its profit outlook for the year and said it is reevaluating its expectations for 2023.

“If you walk into any Target or Walmart store the toy selection is all about value,” Yanofsky said. “You’ll see a lot of stock, which is a complete 180 from last year. Supply is exceeding demand this year.”

DoodleJamz toy.
When DoodleJamz was first introduced last year it cost $25. Now a smaller version of it costs $10.
Sky Castle Toys

At the Target store in Manhattan on West 42nd Street last week, nearly every toy was marked down between 10% and 20%, with Black Friday signage offering “Buy 2 get 1 free” on books, board games, video games and puzzles. Even Barbie gear was marked down, including $1.70 off a $15.29 Barbie “Brooklyn Roberts Broadway play set and a $1.10 off a $9.89 Barbie Family Chelsea travel set.

“It looks like the first week of January in the stores right now,” Loerzel observed. “There are a lot of early price reductions that you wouldn’t ordinarily see until right after the holidays.”

Lower-priced items, meanwhile, have been selling more briskly, and they have the dual advantage of selling well throughout the year, experts say.

A collection of Little Tikes toys.
MGA Entertainment introduced 200 SKUs of small, inexpensive toys this holiday season compared to just 10 or 15 last year.
MGA Entertainment

This year, MGA’s original 11-inch Bratz doll turns 21 years old and a special birthday edition, “Girls Nite Out,” is selling for $36 at Target. Meanwhile, however, a new line of, two-inch Mini Bratz dolls also are selling for $9.88 on Amazon and Walmart and $9.99 at Target.

To be sure, there also will still be expensive toys under the Christmas tree this year — but their numbers will be far smaller, say toy insiders.

“The consumer will spend, but likely in smaller bits for the next few quarters,” said Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun, the maker of Tonka trucks and Lite Brite.

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