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Traditional toys make a Christmas comeback

Some toys just can't be beaten Keystone Archive

Traditional toys are back in favour this Christmas after years of losing out under the tree to electronic games.

Sales of board games are outstripping all other toys, leaving perplexed retailers scrabbling for an explanation.

“We can already confirm that traditional toys have claimed the best part of the market,” Reto Zurflüh, spokesman for the Swiss society of toy suppliers, told swissinfo.

Two of the country’s leading retailers, Manor and Franz Carl Weber, have seen sales of board games, such as Monopoly and Pictionary, surge by up to 15 per cent.

“It is the biggest increase recorded on the toy market this year,” said Maurice Calanca, Manor’s marketing director.

The big comeback has surprised many experts, particularly since manufacturers have made little effort to rejuvenate their products, apart from the occasional change of packaging.

Ulrich Schädler, director of the Swiss Museum of Games at La Tour-de-Peilz on the shores of Lake Geneva, believes the continuing popularity of these games among adults may be responsible for their renaissance.

“Adults also influence what their children want,” explained Schädler. “If Monopoly and Pictionary are still popular, it’s because grown-ups like them just as much as children.”


But Schädler doesn’t rule out the power of the small screen in influencing people to buy board games.

“There are more and more game shows or programmes that pit one contestant against another on television,” he said.

But Manor’s Calanca is not convinced. He claims the revival is simply a passing fad.

“Like all other markets, the toy sector is influenced by trends,” he said. “If board games continue to be popular next year, then we can start talking about a real change in the desires of the consumer.”

Traditional appeal

However, it’s not just board games that are making a comeback this Christmas. Other toys designed for exercising skill and imagination are also proving to be a hit in shops.

“Playmobil, Lego and other toys used to construct things are seeing record sales,” said Urs Peter Naef, spokesman for the Migros retail chain.

Both Migros’ main rival, Coop, and Franz Carl Weber have noticed a similar trend, with cuddly toys, electric train sets and wooden toys selling fast.

Manufacturers, well aware of the merchandising potential from television programmes and films at Christmas time, have cashed in on Walt Disney’s “Finding Nemo”. “Barbie of Swan Lake”, an animated version of the famous tale, has helped to shift a perennial favourite.

In general, the more traditional toy manufacturers have outmanoeuvred the computer game sector, says Calanca.

“This year, toy makers have been particularly creative,” he said. “They have launched a lot of new products while the electronic games sector is dragging its feet.”

“You can be sure that it is making this [electronic games] sector much more nervous.”

swissinfo, Vanda Janka

Swiss retailers have seen a big increase in sales of board games.

Other traditional toys, such as building blocks, cuddly toys and dolls have also outsold electronic games.

Experts point to the success of television game shows as one of the main reasons for the return to traditional games.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR