Toys-to-life: collectible figures take the video game world by storm

Toys-to-life: collectible figures take the video game world by storm
Hybrid Toys
  • Toys-to-life combines video games with physical figurines
  • Nascent market segment grew 45 per cent within one year
  • High demand expected during the Christmas holidays

Berlin, 8 December 2015 – The video games and action figures known as ‘toys-to-life’ are becoming increasingly popular in Germany: within one year, the sales revenue generated by the products in this relatively new market segment grew by approximately 45 per cent. From January through September 2014, the combination of video games and matching plastic collectibles generated around 31 million euros in sales revenue. Sales during the same period in 2015 amounted to approximately 45 million euros. By way of comparison: Germans spent a total of 46.6 million euros on toys-to-life products in 2014 – meaning that the total amount of sales revenue generated last year was reached within just nine months this year. More than one third of annual turnover for this market segment was generated during the Christmas holidays in 2014, as BIU, the German Games Industry Association, reported based on data from market research institute GfK Entertainment. The relatively new toys-to-life segment is booming in Germany. ‘The combination of digital game worlds and physical figurines brings together traditional action figures and video games,’ says Dr Maximilian Schenk, Managing Director of BIU. ‘Considering the prior development of this relatively new market segment, we expect these sorts of video games and action figures to be a highlight of this year’s Christmas shopping season, and that they will continue to be in high demand in Germany.’

Growing diversity in the toys-to-life market

‘Toys-to-life’ refers to the combination of video games and physical figurines (often made of plastic). Activision, Nintendo and Disney offer toys-to-life products, as does LEGO in cooperation with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The collectible figures are generally equipped with an NFC (near field communication) chip, which allows them to communicate with a console or game website. The new characters are added to the video game world and expand the existing game content, allowing players to include the characters or levels that they like best. The toys-to-life segment is still relatively new; it first came into being in 2011. The first company to offer this type of product was Activision, with its ‘Skylanders’ series. Today, a range of different titles from this series are available on both stationary consoles and mobile platforms. Disney followed a few years later with ‘Disney Infinity.’ The ‘Amiibo’ figures from Nintendo, which include well-known video game characters such as Mario, Luigi, Zelda and others, can be used in existing Nintendo games such as ‘Mario Kart’, ‘Super Smash Bros.’ and ‘Splatoon.’ Amiibo-compatible games are available for the Wii U stationary gaming console as well as for the portable handheld New Nintendo 3DS; with an adapter, these games also work on the previous 3DS model. Lego entered into a partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to launch a toys-to-life range in 2015. ‘Lego Dimensions’ combines video game worlds and action figures of characters from stories such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’, ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Batman’ in traditional Lego style.

Note on market data:

The data on the market for toys-to-life products was provided by market research institute GfK Entertainment.

About the BIU

BIU – Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware (German Games Industry Association) is the association of the German computer and video games industry. Its 26 members are developers, publishers and providers of digital games, and they represent over 85 per cent of the German market. The BIU is, for example, the sponsor of gamescom. As an expert partner for media and for political and social institutions, the BIU answers all questions on the topic of digital games.

Press contact

Martin Puppe
BIU – Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware e. V.
Charlottenstrasse 62
10117 Berlin
Tel.: +49 (0)30 2408779 20
Fax: +49 (0)30 2408779 11
Twitter: @game_eV

Martin Puppe
+49 30 240 87 79 20