Notes from New York Toy Fair

Published on: 27th February 2017

Added Smile’s Nat Southworth reports for Toy World from the New York Toy Fair.

ny480I spent three days at the show – Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – allowing me to spend time walking all the levels, observing people interacting with the products and their reactions.

The first thing I noticed was the number of people selling games. There are hundreds of people doing their utmost to convince you that they have the next hit board game. I do not envy the selection process of the games buyers, or indeed the companies looking at distribution on this category – I would have needed eight days to have done this category justice. Walking through the hordes of sales people shouting at me to try their game, it was interesting to see that there can still be hidden gems to discover. Randomly new companies get put in the wrong section…so I give away a trade secret – walk the entire show if you want to spot something new.

The second thing that I found interesting is that there was an aisle dedicated to close out. This isn’t too shocking to anyone who has been in the toy industry, but what might be more shocking to people is the licences on display in this section. Items from two major properties that are launching in the UK and one section where, when I asked for a quote on container loads I was happy to pay cash now for, I was quickly given the response “that item is still subject to licensor approval”. All in the open, not under the table – on full display. It’s not my job to police licences, but I wouldn’t have been best pleased if I was a major licensee trying to sell these items at full price on an adjacent aisle. Therefore, my second observation is that the marketing teams should get down this aisle first thing on the day the show opens, possibly with their licensor contact on speed dial.

I attended two of the briefings/presentations that are open to attendees of the show. The first one was a Toy Trends talk at which I spotted our European NPD colleagues in attendance. Those lucky enough to have attended NPD’s London Toy Fair presentation will already know that the UK market was – and will be – driven by collectibles, which is the new word for craze toys. We’ve also got the evolution of STEM to STEAM to STREAM, so that robots now have a legitimate home in the toy aisle. The show was stolen by Danny Kishon who gave a demonstration of Beatmoovz, which will be sold by Cra-z-art in the USA and Character Options in the U.K. I am just sorry I didn’t video it, as Danny had the room in the palm of his hand.

The second presentation was entitled “Connecting brands with retail toy buyers in a networked economy”. After 20 minutes of headline facts we got to the meat of the one hour session: getting everyone to sign up for , and this is where I have to admire the American culture. As a Brit, I was immediately looking for a polite exit, but a lady with a strong New York accent put her hand up and shouted “what the hell is it? And why the hell should I sign up?” I had to stay for the rest of the session as it was an education.

If anyone wants to comment on my article please send comments directly to Toy World, as I have a new-found respect for everyone who does this week in week out. I’ll stick to my day job.


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