Wow, what a week! Toy Fair has come and gone in a blur, three packed days filled with quickfire meetings and getting up close and personal with a truly vast number of new products.
As it was in Hong Kong, the mood was perhaps more upbeat than might have been expected. Maybe it’s the rush of adrenaline from the moment the show starts, maybe it’s the eternal optimism that has always been a laudable toy trade trait, but the doom and gloom that certain elements of the media seem determined to emphasise was conspicuous by its absence. Yes, there were a few little alarm bells: a high street multi-channel retailer said to be cutting its toy space back by 25%, a supermarket apparently only prepared to buy toys that will retail at £10 and under, and the reduction in the number of toy pages in a certain large catalogue. But whilst these moves could have been construed as signs of worrying times ahead, people seemed to be treating them more as minor blips or ‘road bumps’ to be negotiated, and not blowing them out of proportion (which is a good sign).
There were so many excellent new products on view, it’s difficult to know where to start. Naturally, technology –based toys were everywhere. Toys with apps were the talk of the show: Character Options’ App Gear range, Vivid’s Moshi App Monsters, the whole App Toyz range and Flair’s amazing Nuko were just some of the highlights of this rapidly growing sector. And Sambro’s Force Flyers – technology that allows radio control items to be controlled by a glove rather than a joystick – really impressed me, whilst Lewis was bowled over by Spin Master’s new Air Hogs lines. And, of course, Inspiration Works’ Kurio tablet was rightly attracting a lot of attention.
But it wasn’t just high-tech ranges which caught our eye: the welcome and long overdue relaunch of Subbuteo by Paul Lamond; the new Mini line from Golden Bear; Scoot from Worlds Apart; new horse ranges from Treasure Trove, Kriya (and loads more toy companies!); lovely traditional selections from the likes of Interplay, Galt, Playmobil, Schleich, Rainbow Designs, DKL, John Crane, Big Jigs and so many others; further innovation to keep successful character licensed ranges such as Moshi Monsters, Ben 10, Hello Kitty and Peppa Pig going strong; a host of new collectable ranges from specialists such as Click Distribution and Esdevium; plenty of exciting new developments in the construction aisle from the likes of Character Options, Meccano and Lego; the first glimpse of the new TP range from Mookie….the list really is almost endless. A full review will appear in our March edition, so we’ll get the chance to highlight even more of the great new lines we saw.
Toy World made its home in the Greenhouse, along with many other small start-up companies. Having not spent too much time in that part of the show before, I can honestly say that the camaraderie in the section was a joy, and I really hope that some of those companies go on to become established, successful toy suppliers.
For our own part, we were truly overwhelmed with messages of support and congratulations from the trade, so thanks to each and every one of you who said kind things about the magazine and blog. It isn’t an easy time to establish a brand new business (but then again, when is?), but the encouragement you’ve given us really does lift the spirits of the Toy World team, and gives us confidence that we’re on the right track.
Time now for a well-earned rest before Toy World heads to Nuremberg next week. The ‘Nuremblog’ (as Lewis insists on referring to it) will no doubt make an appearance or two next week, and we look forward to seeing many more of you there and at Spring Fair the week after.