In honour of Toy World’s sixth birthday, I’m surrounded by balloons, wearing the obligatory giant ‘We are 6’ badge and eating copious quantities of lurid-coloured cake while writing this week’s Blog. Our sixth birthday print issue lands today: you can read the digital version here. The September edition is also accompanied by our first-ever pull-out supplement devoted to the Games & Puzzles category, which you can read here.
Like all good magazines, Toy World has evolved somewhat since its launch, and I’m sure it will continue to do so. However, the fundamental ethos behind our business hasn’t changed: in short, we thought it was about time that toy magazines and websites became a bit more interesting. Hopefully we’ve managed to deliver on that promise. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the tremendous ongoing support of the toy community, so a huge thank you to everyone who has been part of the story so far. You can all take a piece of cake and a goody bag on the way out.
Back in the real (toy) world, I’m hearing that raw material prices are on the rise in the Far East again. This time, the increases are being attributed to environmental clampdowns in the Northern part of China, with figures as high as 30% being suggested. Many people are about to head off to Hong Kong for the autumn buying trip, so it will be interesting to see how this translates into factory pricing, and what the reaction will be from buyers. I could take a wild guess…
Having just been battered by its third typhoon in ten days, I’m told that parts of Tsim Sha Tsui are looking a little the worse for wear right now; I hope it all passes by the time the influx of toy visitors starts in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, we have Autumn Fair to look forward to next week – given the number of successful products which have come from outside the mainstream toy environs this year (especially true for the independent channel), the show might well throw up a few more left-field ranges for toy retailers to freshen their shelves with in the run-up to Christmas. The Toy World team will be heading to the show on Monday, so we look forward to seeing you there.
Speaking of shows, the new Toy Fair website goes live today (www.toyfair.co.uk), while visitor registration will open next Tuesday. The show is close to selling out, so visitors can look forward to a packed trip with plenty to see in January. However, the eagle-eyed amongst you will spot one major name missing from this year’s exhibitor list: Lego. The company told us: “It’s always a prioritisation of how we spend resources, and we have decided to continue our proactive dialogue with our retail customers in future in other ways.” So, no Lego, but several hundred other exhibitors to see, some of whom will now get the chance to meet with buyers in the time freed up by Lego’s absence.
All that remains is for me to wish retailers and licensees a happy Force Friday 2: I was planning to join the queues at midnight last night, but a meeting with the inside of my eyelids couldn’t be cancelled, so if anyone joined the throng, feel free to let me know what I missed.
Finally, congratulations to Arklu’s Ian Harkin and fiancée Sofia Torres, who are flying out to Mexico to get married. How did the Arklu team mark the occasion? Appropriately, by presenting the happy couple with lookalike dolls of themselves – a nice extension of the company’s current Lottie Dolls initiative, whereby kids are being invited to design a doll based on themselves, which the company will make and add to its range. Looks like Ian is the first winner. I am sure Ian is a bit too busy right now to be reading this, but good luck and have a great day.