Star Wars lego

The UK is now the largest toy market in Europe, following growth of 5.9% in 2015, according to the British Toy and Hobby Association and market researcher The NPD Group.

The British toy industry is now valued at £3.2 billion after sales grew 5.9% in 2015, according to The NPD Group, an increase of £150 million from 2014.

More than 58,000 new toys were launched in 2015, equating to 31% of UK toy sales or £1 billion at retail.

Growth was driven partly by 2015 being a vintage year for strong film licenses with Minions, Avengers, Jurassic World and Star Wars all playing their part. In fact, last year saw the global cinema box office revenue break the £26.8 billion mark, making 2015 the highest earning year in movie history. This box office success drove movie-related toy sales up 27% (+89% since 2013). The increase also includes the seemingly never ending success of Frozen which made it the number one toy licence again in 2015.

On average last year 38 toys per child were purchased, with 11 of these being Christmas gifts and stocking fillers so it is unsurprising that December proved to be, as ever, a massive month for toys, accounting for 26% of annual sales. Some retailers reported late buying patterns with shoppers leaving purchases until the last minute. This resulted in a few shortages of popular toys as it becomes ever harder to predict stock level as Christmas shopping patterns change.

The strongest sectors for growth in 2015 were action figures (up 20%), building sets (up 14%) and plush (up 14%). The best-selling toy in the UK in 2015 was LEGO’s Mini Figures.

Natasha Crookes, communications director at the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA), said: What a great year 2015 was for the UK toy industry. Some highly creative partnerships with major film properties were a significant driver of growth, but so too was the resurgence of traditional toys such as building sets and plush.

"It’s fantastic to see the innovation of the industry resulting in market growth and with more than a third of last year’s value driven by new product launches it goes to show how much our industry reinvents itself each year to keep toys and games interesting to children and families."