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The Kidulting Trend: A Grown-Up Obsession with Play

The concept of “kidulting” – a trend that speaks to the inner child in adults, inviting them to indulge in the nostalgia of their youth while embracing the responsibilities of adulthood – has taken the world by storm in recent years. This phenomenon has had a profound impact on the toy industry, transforming it into a space that caters not only to the younger generation but also to those who are young at heart. The trend seems to be gaining momentum, so I thought it might be time to explore its origins, its influence on the toy market, and provide examples of some of the favorite toys that have emerged from this trend.

The birth of kidulting

To understand the kidulting trend, we first need to dig into its origins a bit. The term “kidult” is a portmanteau of “kid” and “adult,” which perfectly encapsulates the essence of the trend. While the concept of adults enjoying toys and activities typically associated with children is not new, the term “kidult” gained prominence in the early 2000s, driven by the growing consumer demand for products that invoke nostalgia and provide a temporary escape from the rigors of adulthood.

Kidulting is, in many ways, a reaction to the pressures of modern life, characterized by long work hours, financial responsibilities, and various stresses. People are increasingly seeking opportunities to unwind and reconnect with the simplicity and joy of their childhood. They find solace in revisiting the toys, games, and hobbies that once brought them unadulterated happiness.

The impact of kidulting on toy sales

The rise of kidulting has brought about a significant shift in the toy industry, as manufacturers and retailers recognize the potential of targeting both children and adults. This approach has not only expanded the market but also revitalized older toy brands and introduced new ones that cater specifically to adults. As a result, toy sales have experienced notable growth, from increased demand for collectibles and niche products to the incorporation of pop culture and the encouragement of cross-generational play.

Examples of kidults’ favorite toy brands

In my opinion, playing with LEGO is the epitome of kidulting. For many years, the brand has successfully captured the hearts of both children and adults. They offer intricate sets designed for grown-ups, such as architecture sets, vehicle replicas, and even detailed replicas of famous landmarks. These sets not only provide a sense of accomplishment upon completion but also serve as an outlet for creativity and stress relief. With themes like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Super Mario, LEGO has harnessed the power of pop culture to further engage adult fans.

A favorite kidulting activity is collecting action figures. And, Funko Pop! figures continue to take the collectibles world by storm, appealing to fans of various movies, TV shows, and video games. These quirky vinyl figures are known for their unique and highly-stylized design with large heads and exaggerated features. Their charm lies in their wide range of characters, from the classic Disney princesses to the superheroes and villains of the Marvel and DC universes. Adult collectors often display these figures as a form of self-expression and as a way to showcase their love for their favorite franchises.

Board games, once a staple of family entertainment, have made a remarkable comeback among adults. Games like Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Pandemic have become popular choices for gatherings of friends and family. These games offer intellectual challenges and opportunities for social interaction, making them an ideal choice for adults looking to escape the monotony of everyday life.

Kidulting and Social Media

We’re now seeing the kidulting trend being amplified by the influence of social media. Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are the key platforms where adults are sharing their kidulting experiences with a global audience. They’re posting photos and videos of their toy collections, DIY projects, and creative endeavors, encouraging a sense of community and fostering a shared sense of nostalgia.

Balancing kidulting with adult responsibilities

One question that often arises is how adults manage to balance their kidulting interests with the responsibilities of adulthood. The answer is multifaceted and varies from person to person. Kidults are not seeking to avoid their responsibilities; rather, they use kidulting as a way to decompress and recharge, allowing them to approach their adult obligations with a refreshed mindset.

For some, kidulting is a way to bond with their own children, providing a bridge between generations. Building LEGO sets together, playing board games, or watching classic cartoons can be enjoyable activities for both adults and children, fostering stronger family connections. Additionally, many kidults incorporate their hobbies into their daily lives in subtle ways. They might display collectibles on office desks or add a touch of whimsy to their home décor.

The role of pop culture and entertainment franchises

Pop culture and entertainment franchises have played a pivotal role in the kidulting trend. The resurgence of nostalgic films, TV shows, and video games has reignited interest in related toys and collectibles. For example, the popularity of the Stranger Things series on Netflix has led to a demand for action figures, posters, and other merchandise that harken back to the ’80s.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has also contributed to the kidulting trend with a wide array of action figures, collectibles, and apparel. The release of the last three films of the Star Wars saga – The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker –  saw a surge in demand for lightsabers, action figures, and other Star Wars memorabilia.

Things to consider as the kidult trend evolves

The kidulting trend has had a profound impact on the toy industry, transforming it into a space that caters to the young and young at heart. Nostalgia, escapism, and the desire for stress relief have driven adults to embrace toys, games, and hobbies from their youth. This trend has not only expanded the market but also fostered a sense of community through social media.

As the kidulting trend continues to evolve, it is essential for toy manufacturers and retailers to recognize the importance of balancing responsibility and play. By acknowledging the enduring appeal of pop culture and entertainment franchises, they can continue to create products that resonate with kidults, sparking joy, creativity, and a profound sense of connection with their past.

In an increasingly fast-paced world, kidulting serves as a reminder that it’s okay to take a step back and enjoy the simpler pleasures of life, whether that involves building a LEGO masterpiece, like those on the shelf behind me as I write this, or engaging in a board game battle with friends and family. After all, we can never have too much playfulness in our lives.


  1. From your point of view, how has the concept of kidulting affected the toy industry in terms of sales, marketing, and product development?
  2. What are some other key factors driving the popularity of kidulting?
  3. Can you name other toy brands, or toy products in particular, that have successfully capitalized on the kidulting trend?

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