Snow, trade show trauma and tough choices … it’s the Friday blog

Published on: 10th February 2012

Having attending four toy shows since the turn of the year, the Toy World team has finally returned to the office (I suspect our landlord was beginning to think we’d done a runner!). And so begins the gargantuan task of tackling the lengthy email backlog, and sending out the mountain of follow up proposals which I promised to finalise as soon as I had finished my temporary stint as a professional exhibition visitor.

It has been an eventful close to the Toy Fair season, with potential weather-related disruption never far away. After a packed three days, it was a relief to make it home from Nuremberg before the snow was able to play havoc with my travel plans. A few people found their flights delayed or re-routed on the Friday evening when I returned, but by Saturday afternoon the closure of Birmingham airport saw numerous people having to stay in Germany for an unscheduled extra night.

Spring Fair brought our schedule to a close, although some still have a trip to New York to look forward to before they are done and dusted (surely finishing in Manhattan, as opposed to Birmingham, epitomises the phrase ‘nice work if you can get it’).

So how was Spring Fair? The opening day was inevitably affected by Saturday evening’s heavy snowfall, although thankfully it had all but cleared by the Monday morning, which must have come as a huge relief to exhibitors. We won’t find out for a while what impact the weather conditions had on the overall attendance figures for the show, but I’d be surprised if the numbers weren’t affected in some way, as Sunday is traditionally the busiest day of the Fair. Clearly there is nothing that organiser Emap could have done about this, it’s just one of those things.

The move of the toy section to Hall 3 , however, continues to be a talking point for some exhibitors, who feel they perhaps missed some of the passing traffic they might have picked up in ‘the bazaar’ (i.e. hall 5). In fairness, a number of companies told me that they’d matched or even exceeded last year’s figures, so it was by no means an overwhelming consensus. But some of the more mainstream toy suppliers I spoke to did seem to have a few lingering reservations, and to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous. Once the dust settles and the show is appraised in the context of the overall trade fair period, it will be interesting to see what the final reaction is.

I can certainly say that the Licensing Lounge seemed to be well received, and the series of demonstrations and seminars in Hall 3 was a nice touch. To those people who came along to see my presentation on toy trends for 2012 – even if it was just to rest your weary feet or grab a quick bite to eat – thank you. I hope I gave you some pointers to look out for over the coming months.

Retailers have a fascinating few weeks ahead of them, assessing everything they’ve seen over the past month and working out which lines to select. One conversation I had with a group of major buyers at the Learning Resources party in Nuremberg about the app toys category demonstrated just how challenging – and exciting – the decision-making process can be. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to place your bets, what do you think this year’s winners are going to be?