Are you a kidult? Half of young adults buy nostalgic toys to relive their childhoods

NEW YORK — Do you ever find yourself reminiscing over your favorite childhood toys or memories? Who needs an iPhone when you still have a working Game Boy, right? A new survey reveals that four in five Americans may be “kidults” — still looking up their childhood favorites for nostalgia.

The poll of 2,000 American Gen Zers and millennials found that, if given the opportunity, 67 percent would try to buy a replica of something from their childhood and 76 percent feel a sense of nostalgia in the process. This comes as two in three (65%) adults realize they can now buy things for themselves that their parents would never let them have or couldn’t buy for them as a kid.

Of those who have made this realization, 54 percent either “often” or “always” buy the things they could never have as children, including video games (51%), clothes (51%), and snack foods (50%). Four in 10 (41%) “collectors” will even splurge on really expensive toys.

Commissioned by MGA’s Miniverse and conducted by OnePoll, the study found 59 percent of people consider themselves kidults — adults who hold onto their childhood spirit through consumer products like video games, toys, books, movies, fashion, and so on.

These self-identified “kidults” believe they’ve earned the title by embracing feelings of nostalgia: frequently rewatching movies and shows from their childhood (59%), watching cartoons (54%), or remembering specific products from their childhood (49%).

Kidults nostalgia

This power of nostalgia goes so far, 38 percent even have toys and collectibles on display in their home or at work and 68 percent have made or strengthened a relationship because of the toys or collectibles they display.

Eighty-four percent of these toy collectors have held onto toys from their childhood, for an average of 16 years. Among them, the most popular types of toys to hold onto included collectibles (63%), stuffed animals (61%), dolls (40%), and doll accessories (40%).

However, young adults do have an interest in new innovations. As adults today, 85 percent said they’ve purchased either childhood toys or exact replicas of their childhood toys. When asked what motivates them to embrace being a “kidult,” respondents said they felt a sense of nostalgia (63%), entertainment (62%), and youthfulness (50%).

“Embracing nostalgia is a big part of being a ‘kidult,’” says Isaac Larian at MGA Entertainment, in a statement. “That feeling gives us the ability to hold onto the imagination and creativity we often associate with childhood. In many ways, holding onto toys and collectibles from our past is both liberating and entertaining, and miniature versions of them makes this experience more accessible.”

Nostalgic toys
Nostalgic toys (Photo by Jane Slack-Smith on Unsplash)

Results also found that when Americans have some extra money available to them, 54 percent will splurge on toys and collectibles. They’re also more likely to spend on clothing (56%), hobby interests (43%), or video games (42%).

In any given month, the average toy collector is willing to spend $158 on toys and collectibles. One-fourth (28%) also named miniaturized foods/household items as the top type of toy they purchase today for themselves.

In fact, forty-six percent said they have a preference for small or miniature items in general, compared to full-size. When asked why they prefer miniature things versus larger items, 56 percent mentioned miniatures being cuter, 48 percent said they are easier to take with them, and 46 percent said they are entertaining.

Seven in 10 also said they would gift an adult friend with a toy or collectible.

“Holding on to old toys or buying new ones that remind you of the ones you had as a kid is something to be celebrated,” Larian continues. “We encourage people to have mini toys on display as a constant reminder of being a kid at heart. It’s a perfect way to create unique connections with friends and show off our personal interests and personalities.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Gen Z and millennial Americans was commissioned by MGA’s Miniverse between May 31 and June 2, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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