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24-year-old Anders Wennerberg spent nearly $1,000 dollars on Legos this year. Usually, he spends more … he really loves Legos.
“There was a Lego Sonic the Hedgehog set that came out back in January … and I remember I went to a New Year’s Eve party, the next day I’m up in line at 7:30 to go to pick it up day one,” he said.
Wennerberg is what’s known in the Lego community as an AFOL — an adult fan of Legos. He buys some as collectors’ items, but he mostly just loves to play with them, like when he was a kid.
And Lego is really good at marketing that nostalgia. Mostly by combining Legos with other sources of nostalgia.
“This year we saw Lego ‘The Office,’ which is probably one of the biggest like sitcoms you could go after, and that’s a HUGE deal for people my age,” Wennerberg said.
Since 2020, most of the growth in global toy sales came from teenagers and adults buying toys for themselves, according to market research firm the NPD Group.
That demographic has become so important to the toy industry, it has its own name: “‘Kidults.’ So, kids at heart but you know, with grown-up wallets,” said Marissa Silva, editor in chief of The Toy Insider.
She said toy companies have learned that if you make slightly more upscale products aimed towards adults, you can charge adult prices.
“Take the Lite-Brite for example. Lite-Brite costs about $15 to $20,” she said. “But now we have Lite-Brite wall-art that’s designed for adults … It’s $100 bucks.”
Toymaker Hasbro has its own division targeting adult lovers of action figures, and according to senior vice president Kwamina Crankson, adults are also looking for alternatives to playing in front of screens.
“There’s something about the focus and the way that imagination gets to play out with a tactile toy,” he said.
It’s a multi-generational play for Hasbro. Get the parents playing with action figures again, and guess what the kids will want from Santa.
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