Welcome to the Red Nose Day blog (and that’s not a reference to this week’s cold weather). I hope you’ve all found someone who is doing something funny for money to support.
The aforementioned weather continues to confound those of us who optimistically believed that Spring might be around the corner. Toy World columnist David Ripley had to rescue his wife, who was stranded in a snow drift in Sussex, at 10.30 on Monday evening, which is probably not something he anticipated doing in the middle of March. Outdoor toy suppliers in particular must be desperate for a swift upturn; if I remember correctly, last March was half-decent, and sales of outdoor toys got off to a good start.
In addition, we have a particularly early Easter to contend with this year. Optimists will hope it provides a timely opportunity to kick-start sales, as it sounds relatively quiet out there at the moment. Having said that, in an attempt to put things into perspective, I often find myself using a well-worn phrase at this time of year: “you don’t ask an ice-cream salesman how business is in December.”
I’m sure – from a business point of view – we would all prefer Easter to arrive a little later in the calendar, but nevertheless plenty of toy companies are gearing up to launch new lines or promote range extensions in the coming weeks: Series 6 of Moshi Monsters arrives in stores a week today, Mega Bloks Barbie was launched at Hamleys last weekend and Mattel is starting to ramp up excitement for the arrival of Max Steel by unveiling the brand new maxsteel.com website. We’ll keep you posted on many of the other new Easter arrivals over the coming weeks.
Elsewhere, the launch of Disney Infinity has been delayed from June to August, allegedly at the behest of American retail buyers, who felt it would be better for the range to come to market nearer to the Christmas period. In fairness, I can see why they would say that.
I don’t know if any of you read Toy World columnist Richard Gottlieb’s Global Toy News website, but if you do, you may have noticed his article on bar games this week. He introduced the piece by saying: “I have been putting a lot of study recently into the many kinds of play environments. One of these environments is your neighborhood (sic) bar.” I just wanted to say publicly to any American readers of the blog that the UK toy trade is way ahead of Richard in this particular field of research, and I can exclusively reveal that in our experience, not a lot of shuffleboard is usually being played.
Finally, I’d like to close with a tweet from one of the most prolific independent retail exponents of social media, Halesworth Toys: “Toy firms – where are your reps / agents? Have had NO contact from some for 6 months. Crazy. I want to buy. Do YOU want to sell?” Given how many people I have spoken to recently have told me that business has not exactly been setting the world on fire, I find this quite surprising. I suspect a few sales directors might be checking who’s looking after that particular patch over the next few days.
You can follow John on Twitter here: @Baulchtweet.