Start spreading the news….it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 21st February 2014

The copious quantities of snow which landed on the ‘Big Apple’ this week don’t seem to have deterred visitors to this week’s New York Toy Fair. Of course, at times such as these, the cliché about America coping with inclement weather far better than the UK gets bandied about, but in fairness it’s hard to disagree with that suggestion.

The organisers of the show pulled off a major coup when they persuaded Alicia Keys to open this year’s event. I look forward to other Toy Fair organisers around the world adopting a similar approach next year. How about One Direction opening Toy Fair? Personally I can’t wait for Nena to cut the metaphorical ribbon in Nuremberg (if you’re too young to get the reference, ask the nearest person who looks like they were around in the ’80s).

Judging by the number of releases we’ve received from companies whose products featured on TV segments from the Fair, the American media were out in force again this year, which must encourage the larger toy companies to continue to have a strong presence in New York during Toy Fair week (even if not all of them actually take booths at the show). I guess it helps when ‘A-list’ actors such as Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield are prepared to turn out to help flog a bit of product.

While we’re on the subject of Toy Fairs, apologies for looking ahead to 2015 already, but it seems worth pointing out that the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair will be taking place a week later next year. The Fair traditionally takes place in the first week of January, but the 2015 dates have been announced as 12th-15th January. With the UK Toy Fair starting on Tuesday 20th January, this means that there will only be a matter of days between the two shows. Indeed, with Nuremberg and Spring Fair running over the following two weeks (28th January to 2nd February and 1st February to 5th February respectively), the four shows will run over four consecutive weeks, something that hasn’t happened for a while (if indeed it ever has). It seems unlikely that the Hong Kong showrooms will alter their opening dates, which means that a lot of UK visitors won’t be hugely affected by the move. But for those who do have a presence at the exhibition itself, a traditionally punishing schedule of global Toy Fairs just got that little bit more punishing.

Details of a major sales and marketing restructure at Character Options have been confirmed this week: congratulations to David Bramford, who has been promoted to sales director designate (in advance of Mike Rowe retiring in July 2015) and also to Mark Hunt, who has been promoted to marketing manager, working alongside Colin Fox in his new role as marketing services manager.

Finally, I know of a number of UK-based toy retailers who swear by the New York Toy Fair, especially those who specialise in Action Figures. The show sounds like a veritable paradise for the self-confessed geeks, and the feedback I received on some of this year’s new introductions was extremely interesting, if largely unprintable – they’re certainly not shy when it comes to highlighting what they don’t like. See if you can fill in the blanks from a message I received earlier this week: “XXXXXX has royally ****** up XXXX XXXX XXXXXX.” I told you it was unprintable. Extra points if you can guess who the message came from as well (perhaps not quite as hard).

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