Holiday Preview: Movie Merch and Collectibles Top List of Hot Holiday Toys This Year

Forget “Tickle Me Elmo,” when it comes to holiday shopping this year, the biggest releases are tapping into the passionate fandom of TV, video game and movie franchises.

From traditional sellers like Walmart and GameStop, to online retailers eBay and Amazon, analysts say some of the most popular gifts this holiday season cater to nostalgia, exclusivity, and a personal and cultural attachment to particular characters and shows.

“We predict toys to have a big moment this holiday season, from the retro, to right now, and super special,” says Sam Bright, VP of Merchandising, for eBay North America. “As we continue to see box office hits and beloved franchise characters dominate the cultural conversation, it’s no surprise this demand translates to the most-wanted items for the season.”

harry potter funko pop ebay

Bright cites the success of “Black Panther” and the 20th anniversary of “Harry Potter” as two examples of a franchise whose buzz has extended beyond the headlines and into sales. According to Bright, there have been more than 200,000 searches on eBay for “Black Panther” since the film hit theaters in February, while shoppers picked up one Harry Potter item every minute in 2018, including more than 47,000 Harry Potter Lego sets and 37,000 Harry Potter Funko Pop figures.

Other franchises who made eBay’s “50 Hottest Toys of the Season” list include “Aquaman” figurines, Marvel’s Spider-Man collector’s edition for PlayStation 4, and the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” action hero.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is expected to open to big numbers later this month, and if advance ticket sales are any indication, the “Harry Potter” spin-off is likely to move units on store shelves as well. Funko Pop, the Washington-based collectible toy company, has an entire collection dedicated to the film, offering everything from plush toys, to fashion accessories, to figurines.

monopoly-fortnite-editionIt isn’t just movie franchises that are attracting big business this season. GameStop is offering a complete lineup of officially-licensed merchandise from several popular gaming franchises, including “Fortnite,” “Red Dead Redemption II,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” and “Fallout.” The offerings include collectibles, like character action figures and replica props, to unisex apparel and accessories.

The Virginia-based company ThinkGeek, which positions itself as a fan enthusiasts site, routinely does well with its “Game of Thrones” merchandise. They also offer toys and gifting items from cult favorite shows like “Rick and Morty” and “Doctor Who” as well. Wary of knock-offs and cheaper options online, ThinkGeek makes a point to stress that all the products they sell are officially-licensed for sale through their site. Many of them are also ThinkGeek exclusives.

Research from Adobe Analytics says it expects U.S. online sales to total more than $124 billion in the last two months of the year – an increase of 14.8 percent over 2017. Traditional “off-line” retail spending is expected to increase as well, though at a significantly lower rate of 2.7 percent. The biggest shopping day of the year: Cyber Monday, with Adobe forecasting more than $7 billion in sales on November 26.

According to Adobe, the most anticipated gifts this year include 4K TVs, retro video games and consoles, and toys like Fortnite Monopoly.

VarietySPY editorial products are independently selected. If you buy something through our links, PMC may earn an affiliate commission.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Prosecutors Make Last-Minute Move to Bolster Case

    The Manhattan D.A.’s office is making a last-minute bid to strengthen its case against Harvey Weinstein, who is set to be tried next month on charges of rape and sexual assault. Prosecutors notified the court on Tuesday that they will seek a new indictment. The D.A.’s office wants jurors to hear from Annabella Sciorra, the [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein's Autopsy Rules That He Died by Suicide

    Jeffrey Epstein’s death earlier this month has been ruled a suicide by hanging. The New York Times reported on Friday that the city’s medical examiner has officially made the ruling six days after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. According to the Times, which cites a [...]

  • America Ferrera Eva Longoria

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and More Sign Letter to Latinx Community: 'We Will Not Be Broken'

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and more have signed a letter published in several media outlets on Friday standing in solidarity with the Latinx community. In response to the heightened tension surrounding President Trump’s immigration agenda, the El Paso shooting that targeted Latinx people and the ICE raids in Mississippi, the letter addresses the language used [...]

  • Research Firm Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox

    Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox, an Entertainment Marketing and Ticketing Startup

    Screen Engine/ASI, a market research firm that specializes in focus-group testing of movies and TV pilots, has acquired ticktBox, which operates a digital marketing and ticketing platform used by movie distributors, exhibitors, and TV networks. Terms of the deal, which closed Aug. 9, weren’t disclosed. With ticktBox, SE/ASI will have one of the largest databases of [...]


    Eric Reid, Jemele Hill – and Colin Kaepernick? - Take Jay-Z to Task Over NFL Partnership

    When news of the presumably lucrative entertainment and social-justice deal between Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL leaked on Tuesday, initially there was a surprising lack of public reaction or outcry. But after a press conference where Jay and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell officially announced the deal at Roc Nation’s New York offices yesterday — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content