By Jim Scott
DNAinfo Senior Editor
MANHATTAN — The multi-billion dollar toy industry will show off its top products in New York City beginning Sunday during the 108th annual Toy Fair at the Jacob K. Javits Center.
Small toy makers as well as industry giants Hasbro and Mattel will be part of the 1,100 exibiting companies setting up shop at the Javits Center for the three-day event.
The trade show, which is run by the Toy Industry Association, is closed to the public, but it's an essential event for toy manufacturers, licensers and buyers.
"Toy Fair is the most exciting event of the year for industry influencers, who annually flock to the trade show to create new business opportunities," Marian Bossard, TIA vice president of meetings and events, said in a statement.
Companies are hoping to get 2011 off to a strong start after U.S. retail sales of toys rose 2 percent in 2010 to $21.87 billion, according to research firm NPD Group.
However, the holiday season was weaker than expected for some toy makers. Hasbro's sales dropped 15.4 percent in 2010 thanks to a softer than expected fourth quarter, Reuters reported. Sales on girls toys were up, but sales of Hasbro action figures and games dropped 15 percent compared to 2009.
Analysts are predicting that this year's promising movie schedule could give toy companies like Hasbro a boost.
New comic book movies "Captain America", "Thor" and "Green Lantern" will be represented heavily on toy shelves this summer. Toy makers are also banking on brisk sales for toys related to blockbuster movie sequels "Transformers 3" and Disney's "Cars 2."
"Toys for sequels or known properties often get a better reaction from retailers," Reyne Rice, trend specialist at the Toy Industry Association, told the Hollywood Reporter.
Tech-related toys like Mattel's new "Angry Birds Knock On Wood" game are also sure to draw in audiences a the trade show this week. The tabletop game is based off the wildly popular iPhone game "Angry Birds," which was the top selling game on Apple's iPhone in 2010.
While Mattel hopes to cash in on an emerging new brand, Warner Bros. hopes to revive an old one with new toys based on the 1980s cartoon "Thundercats." It won't be the only 80s cartoon represented with toys this week. A new line of Smurfs toys will be hitting the shelves to coincide with Sony Picture's release of a "Smurfs" movie this summer.
The Toy Fair kicks off Sunday morning at 10 a.m. with an opening ceremony that will feature live music, a parade of popular costumed characters and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.