January 2016

Welcome to the bumper Toy Fair Preview edition of Toy World

As ever, it is comfortably our largest issue of the year, packed with a wealth of information to help you make the most of the impending Toy Fair season. As you would expect, this edition focuses heavily on the forthcoming toy shows, and in particular the UK industry’s beating heart – Toy Fair at Olympia. In addition, there is the second part of our guide to the Spielwarenmesse – and that’s just for starters.

Each preview section will give you the opportunity to see a selection of the exciting new products which will be unveiled at the respective shows, allowing you the chance to plan your trips and assess which companies need to be added to your ‘must-see’ lists for each event. The best-selling toys for next Christmas are almost certainly contained within these exhaustive round-ups, so I hope you enjoy working your way through and spotting the potential winners.

In addition to the preview sections, you’ll notice that some exciting new faces have joined the Toy World roster of contributors, and I’m delighted that they will be sharing their valuable expertise and perspective over the coming months. We’ve partnered with the industry’s two most influential media companies – Generation Media and Arena Azure – to bring you information about the rapidly changing media landscape, while former Mattel and Hasbro sales director Andy Clempson will be writing a new regular column focusing on the sales side of the toy business. Starting with this edition, we will also be expanding our coverage of the independent toy sector in 2016 with the creation of a new section – Indie World – where you’ll be able to keep up-to-date with developments from this vital part of the trade.

As well as all of our regular columns and the invaluable show preview sections, this issue also includes an interview with Tesco, whose toy buying department has been through a major restructure over the past twelve months. Tesco has always been a hugely important player in the toy arena, but it is no great secret that the company has had some significant challenges to address in recent years. Thankfully its tribulations appear to be well and truly in the past: I was given what could almost be described as unprecedented access to commercial director John Driscoll and head of buying Dawn Lavalette, and the result is what I believe to be a very honest picture of where one of the UK’s largest toy retailers is heading, and how it intends to get there. No question was off limits, which I have to say is extremely refreshing for a journalist. Turn to page 34 for what I hope you will agree is a fascinating insight into one of the UK toy industry’s biggest players.

All that remains to say is that I hope you enjoy this jam-packed issue, and myself and the Toy World team look forward to catching up with you over the coming weeks. We’ll be out in force at Olympia, where you can catch us on our usual stand situated on the main aisle, GH37.