YOU can spin it on your nose, chin, finger or tongue. Some include LED lights, others resemble a ship’s wheel, or even a skull and crossbones. The fidget spinner has three paddle-shaped blades attached to a central, weighted disc containing ball bearings. Flick a blade and it spins, for anything up to 12 minutes in an advanced version from Japan. It was originally designed to help calm children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism, but swept the world earlier this year as a toy that everyone can play with.
Retail sales have undoubtedly slowed recently, says Mark Austin of ToyWorld, a trade publication—good news for the schools that have banned it as too distracting for pupils. But the spinner has created a new “fidget” category of toys. And the global toy industry, which was surprised by its success, has learned lessons.
The fad started in America in February. By May, all 20 of the top-selling toys on Amazon, an online retailer, were either fidget spinners or fidget cubes, a close relation. There have been many such crazes—who can forget the great loom-band mania of 2014?—but none that spread as fast. Frédérique Tutt, an analyst of the global toy market for NPD, a data company, says that it took just three weeks to cross the Atlantic and go global. No one knows exactly how many have been sold but NPD estimates that at least 19m were sold in the 12 rich-world countries that they track (including America and the biggest European markets) during the first six months of this year. Others put the figure at over 50m.
Read more here: The lessons of fidget spinners