For U.S. toymakers and retailers, the $17.7 billion question is whether the Trump administration will slap tariffs on Chinese-made toys.
That $17.7 billion is the value of U.S. toy, doll and game imports from China in 2017, according to business website Statista.
The industry's chief trade group, the Toy Association in Washington, is lobbying hard to head off potential tariffs.
While the 102-year-old group notes that toys have largely been left off administration tariffs so far, it is concerned about the effects of tariffs on toy components, children's furniture, art supplies, toy packaging and more.
President Donald Trump this year has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in imports from China — about half the total manufactured goods that the country sends to the U.S. — and has threatened duties on the other half.
The Toy Association has linked arms with other tariff-fighting trade groups in the Americans for Free Trade coalition.
At a coalition-sponsored town hall in Philadelphia in October, Michael Araten, president and CEO of Hatfield, Pa.-based Sterling Drive Ventures LP and former CEO of plastic construction toymaker K'nex, told the audience that tariffs could push up toy prices sharply.
"A $20 toy will cost $30. The [president's] tax credits were great … but the tariffs will take all those gains away from the consumer," he said.
Longtime industry watcher Richard Gottlieb reckons that in the end, a reluctance to irk moms, dads and grandparents will compel the Trump administration to step back from the toy-tariff brink.
"Such a move would impact the middle and lower-class consumer and the administration would be unlikely to want to upset such a large voting bloc," Gottlieb, of New York-based consultancy Global Toy Experts, wrote in an email interview. "In addition, it would create political pushback from the large retailers like Walmart and Target."
Over the past three decades, U.S. toy companies, both big and small, have forged tight links with Chinese manufacturers.
In a Sept. 6 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Toy Association President and CEO Steve Pasierb wrote that while almost all design, marketing and distribution is done stateside, 85 percent of toys destined for U.S. kids are made in China.
"Given this high degree of integration, U.S. toy companies could not switch to non-Chinese sources quickly or easily," Pasierb wrote.
While the average Chinese manufacturing wage continues to rise rapidly, reaching a record 64,452 yuan ($9,278) annually last year, this is still a fraction of what U.S. factory workers earn.
And while some manufacturers are moving to lower-wage countries, the reliability of the mainland's supply chain makes it especially appealing to executives whose job security depends on satisfying holiday shoppers.
After all, who buys toys on Dec. 26?
Echoing other trade associations opposed to tariffs, the toy group argued that plastic toys and other children's products are well outside the advanced manufacturing industries targeted by Beijing for support in its "Made in China 2025" industrial upgrade strategy that has drawn concern from Trump administration officials.
Disrupting toy supply chains with tariffs could also hurt U.S. jobs at a delicate time for the industry, the group said.
"Toy tariffs would lead to projected losses of tens of thousands of U.S. jobs at a time when the U.S. toy industry is already disrupted by the Toys R Us bankruptcy and closure," Pasierb wrote.
Financial results have been mixed among plastic toymakers in China, which manufacture the bulk of the world's toys but struggled with a weak yuan this year. Many firms have headquarters in Hong Kong but have factories across the border in the Pearl River Delta, the global epicenter of toy manufacturing.
At Kader Holdings Co. Ltd., for example, sales from toys and model trains in the first half were HK$254.71 million (US$32.5 million), off 14.1 percent from the same period in 2017.
The few remaining U.S.-based toy manufacturers are sleeping calmly at night. At least for now.
"Since all of our production is based in the U.S. and essentially all of our raw materials and components are sourced from the U.S. (and Canada), we have not been negatively impacted by the trade war," wrote President Jim Miller of Streetsboro, Ohio-based rotational molder Simplay3 Co. in response to email questions.
The company makes sit-in and ride-on toys for small children.