UK toys-to-life sector is bigger than ever

Christopher Dring
UK toys-to-life sector is bigger than ever

Forget the toys-to-life crisis. More than 620,000 UK gamers have bought Disney Infinity 3, LEGO Dimensions or Skylanders Superchargers.

That's a rise of 21.2 per cent compared with the number of toys-to-life starter packs sold during the same period a year before.

The data follows concerns for the genre sparked by the collapse of the Disney Infinity franchise.

The rise is driven by Warner Bros' LEGO Dimensions, which is a new entry in the category. Both Disney Infinity 3 and Skylanders Superchargers suffered declines in sales compared with their previous iterations (2014's Disney Infinity 2 and Skylanders: Trap Team). If you discount LEGO Dimensions, toys-to-life game sales are down by 27 per cent in the UK.

That's why Disney chose to cancel its Infinity range and close developer Avalanche Software.

I think it comes down to a failure to evolve and innovate,” said Alex Fleetwood from Sensible Object, the team behind unique toys-to-life concept Fabulous Beasts.

There are a ton of amazing ways that Disney could have extended the Infinity concept into different games, technologies and IPs, bringing more people to the concept and diversifying sales risk. It was always a console-first proposition and that's not where the audience is now.”

He added: Skylanders and LEGO Dimensions have an awful lot of life left in them. Amiibo plays by its own rules.

More broadly, toys-to-life is rapidly being subsumed into a more diverse genre called connected play, which includes things like Sphero, Osmo, Anki Drive, even XCOM: The Board Game.

Earlier in the year, GfK Entertainment told MCV that 129m was generated by toys-to-life products (including action figures) in the UK during 2015 - an increase of 39 per cent year-over-year and the first time the market has generated over 100m.

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