Show and tell …it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 26th May 2023

Let’s be honest, the week back in the office after a trade show is always a bit of a comedown. The buzz of meeting up with a constant stream of friends and colleagues from the industry, seeing hundreds of new products and immersing yourself in the toy community from breakfast to the wee small hours is always enormous fun. Of course, that has to give way to reality: there is all the follow-up to attend to and ‘real’ work that has to be done – none of us could run a successful business if we were constantly out of the office at shows. Which presumably is why some people have been ‘lobbying’ for fewer shows and a more streamlined toy event calendar. But is that likely to happen any time soon, or are we in fact facing the short-term prospect of having to make even more trips if we want to see everyone we’d like to, at least until a clearer picture emerges as to which events will survive and thrive, and which might fall by the wayside…?

This week, normal service has resumed at Toy World HQ after last week’s hugely enjoyable – and highly successful – Toymaster May Show. We have sent the June issue to print (on time, natch – I can’t imagine how embarrassing it must be to have to explain to advertisers why your issue didn’t appear until after a show finished), and we have started work in earnest on the July edition. Get in touch now if you’d like to be part of that issue.

Next week sees another toy show taking place, as Distoy opens its doors in London on Tuesday. Post-pandemic, the toy calendar has continued to evolve, and in truth, is still in the process of settling. There appear to be some fixed points: Q1 – the traditional ‘Toy Fair Season’- remains a pivotal period, despite what some people might say to the contrary. Personally, I don’t foresee London or Nuremberg moving dates any time soon, and it will be interesting to see what happens in Hong Kong next January, as life there begins to return to normality.

After January, there is likely to be a gap until May, when Toymaster and Distoy take place – and you can throw Licensing Expo into the mix for those toy companies and retailers who see that as a worthwhile trip. The Toymaster dates for 2024 are 21st-23rd May; we will bring you next year’s Vegas dates when the embargo lifts. (Visit the Toy World Toy Fairs Page for the latest information as we have it).

In addition to these shows, we are waiting to see what happens with some other events. There are strong rumours that the INDX show may be moving its time slot, with September currently the bookies’ favourite (although that is still to be officially confirmed). Presumably that wouldn’t take effect until 2024, if that is the final decision taken by the AIS team. On a local UK level, it will be intriguing to see what impact a September INDX show would have on the Autumn Fair, especially in terms of the toy presence at the NEC?

Then, on a global scale, we have the emergence of LA, not just the established September event, but also a potential April trip to add into the mix. By all accounts international presence was relatively limited in April this year, but there is every chance it will expand in the coming years. And, of course, the move of the New York Toy Fair from February to September has added another option for the global toy community to weigh up when planning the autumn calendar. With the date of European licensing show BLE shifting between the third week of September and mid-October, the September/October period is going to continue to present some interesting logistical challenges for companies who would ideally like to be present at all three events (LA, NYC and BLE).

And what impact will the growth of LA have on other global shows such as Distoy and the September and January trips to Hong Kong? The Toy World team will be at Distoy next week, so I will no doubt share a few thoughts in next week’s Blog. I would rather comment after the event, rather than pontificate about what may or may not happen before a metaphorical ball has been kicked.

If anyone would like to see us at Distoy, either to share their thoughts on the shifting toy show landscape or to talk about what’s coming up in Toy World in the second half of the year, feel free to drop us a message (John or Mark). Or you can just accost us while we are loitering in the lobby or queueing for the lifts or a coffee – we’d love to know what you think so we can build up an accurate picture to share with the whole toy community.

Away from toy shows, it was great to announce this week that David Martin has started a new role heading up the development of the Curious Universe toy division, while Lauren Wade has joined MGA as head of Field Sales and John Carlaw has moved from Bandai to take up a new position as head of Sales at Just Play. We wish them all the best in their new roles. If you are looking for a new opportunity, may I point you in the direction of the Toy World online recruitment section, which has a good variety of roles on offer across sales, marketing and other areas.

Elsewhere this week, we were finally able to reveal another of the products we really loved in Nuremberg – Hasbro’s Twister Air, which will hit shelves in August. Seeing fantastic new lines that we have to keep quiet about for a period of time might be slightly frustrating at times, but it is all part and parcel of what have to do to become a trusted media partner to all the toy and licensing companies. So, if you are inviting us into your showroom at Distoy, a presentation or showcase in Las Vegas, or your booth at the New York Toy Fair in September, you can be confident that we won’t go live with what we’ve seen until the time is right. But not showing us the good stuff in the first place, because you don’t “trust media” (or can’t differentiate between B2B and consumer journalists) …. it feels like you are (mis)judging us. Just a little something to think about ahead of the forthcoming shows.

In the meantime, have a fantastic Bank Holiday (another one?!); we’re off to see our granddaughter…if we can find her amongst all her toys.

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