After several challenging years, it's fun to be in the toy business again.
As more than 1,000 toymakers gathered to show off new products at the American International Toy Fair at New York City's Javits Center, experts were upbeat about the industry's outlook.
"We know that consumer sentiment is improving and the toy industry grew 10 percent in January," said Juli Lennett, president of U.S. toys for market researcher The NPD Group. "We don't typically see that kind of growth in the industry, so we're off to a really great start."
That comes on the heels of 4 percent sales growth in 2014, according to NPD, with U.S. retail sales hitting $18 billion, helped in part by the success of Disney's "Frozen."
Experts suggest licensed toys will continue to do well again this year, and there are a number of promising toys such as an interactive Barbie doll, a wearable action video camera and self-driving cars that could be on kids' wishlists this year.
"Licensing right now in the toy industry is very strong," said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of industry relations at the Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA).
Sales of licensed toys rose 7 percent in 2014, outpacing the toy industry as a whole, according to NPD's data, and LIMA estimates licensed properties totaled $2.6 billion in royalty revenue.
With the new, highly anticipated "Star Wars" film hitting theaters in December, plus a new "Avenger's" movie and the buzzed-about "Jurassic World," licensed toy lines are expected to keep outperforming.