February might seem a little early to ponder what items will be on your child's holiday gift list, but the toy industry is already giving it plenty of thought.
Toys haven't had an easy go of it in recent years. In October last year, surveys indicated fewer adults planned to purchase toys when shopping for the holidays, and nearly one-third of those who did said they would spend less money on them, according to The Harris Poll. Companies including Hasbro, Mattel and Toys R Us later reported lackluster results for the fourth quarter, based in part on weak toy sales.
"The problem with the toy industry, frankly, is a lot of the toy companies are afraid to take a chance," said Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment, whose brands include Little Tikes, Bratz and Lalaloopsy. It can be a struggle to get retailers to carry innovative toys, he said, and consumers sometimes aren't ready to buy them.
(Watch: Hot holiday toys at Toy Fair 2014)
Which means finding the hot toy is crucial for the toy industry. These 16, on display at the Toy Industry Association's Toy Fair in New York from Feb. 16 to 19, could be contenders that will be hard to find on shelves.
—By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant
Posted 19 Feb. 2014