Superheroes have captured the imagination of children for decades but the appeal of these iconic characters is not easily outgrown.

This is according to global sales figures, which reveal that millennials comprise a significant percentage of the target market for superhero movie merchandise, and older fans are buying these products as much for themselves as for their children. South Africa’s leading toy retailer Toys R Us says the trend is also evident locally as the popularity of superhero movies and series has made way for a wide range of related toy merchandise including figurines, dolls, playsets, collectibles, masks, costumes and gaming.

Nicole Annells, Marketing Manager of Toys R Us and Babies R Us South Africa, notes that superhero toys such as collectibles and gaming have proven popular among both adults and children. “Children are constantly influenced by what they watch on the big and small screens making superhero toys a must-have but this merchandise also continues to draw the attention of older fans,” says Annells. This is due largely to the nostalgic appeal of these classic characters, allowing parents to relive moments from their childhood with their children. “The popularity of superheroes and related toys continues to be a global phenomenon, which transcends age and gender. We’ve observed that these iconic toys are firm favourites across all age groups because they are well-recognised by children and evoke fond memories for parents especially following the release blockbuster movie remakes,” adds Annells.

Most recently, the big screen remake of the popular 90’s cartoon series, Power Rangers saw global success and in recent years the Batman v Superman, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Batman Lego movies have dominated big screens. Meanwhile, the popular animated series - DC Super Hero Girls - has reintroduced iconic characters including Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Supergirl, Poison Ivy and Wonder Woman- portraying them as teenagers who are navigating high school while using their super-powers to perform acts of goodness and heroism. But the line-up of superheroes continues to grow with the launch of new movies and series introducing innovative and diverse characters for young enthusiasts to admire and enjoy. This year, young audiences were introduced to a teenage crime-fighting superhero known as Ladybug in the animated series, Miraculous.

“Superheroes have garnered a strong following because of the positive characteristics they exemplify. For many, these characters are fondly remembered as their first idols and even today they continue to teach children moral values and develop their self confidence,” says Annells.