Day 14 of an extraordinary Olympics and the medals keep coming for Team GB, with last Saturday’s incredible six Gold medal haul the pinnacle of what has been a fantastic overall performance. I ventured into the centre of London for the first time since the games started this week, and I have to say that the mood and camaraderie were excellent – the whole event really does seem to have lifted peoples’ spirits. I sincerely hope that this ‘feelgood factor’ lasts, as it could well have a significant effect on consumer spending in the run-up to Christmas.
Mind you, we’ve started to attend a handful of Spring/Summer previews this week, so the trade already has one eye firmly on 2013. I’ve seen some great new lines which will be coming through next year – in fact, I saw one cracking new range which will be available this November, but which for ridiculous NDA – related reasons I can’t talk about yet. Suffice to say it’s a plush range which blends a hot new licence and an old classic to highly amusing effect, and I am sure retailers will be fighting over stock very shortly. I also loved the trailer for the new Monsters Inc movie, which is due to be released next July; I honestly haven’t laughed so much in ages.
Conversations at the previews have focused on subjects such as the Argos catalogue (general consensus is that they’ve gone some way towards addressing the product density of the pages, although some pages still seem overly fussy to me, especially on the smaller format catalogue I picked up) and the fact that Sainsbury’s won’t be running its legendary half-price sale this half term (the feeling is that neither Sainsbury’s nor toy suppliers have the budget – or the appetite – to fund the initiative any longer). There is also the belief that the grocers have bought significantly less special promotional merchandise this year, which should turn out to be good news for purveyors of regular merchandise, i.e. most toy companies.
I have a couple of personal shout-outs to finish this week. I was shocked to hear that Drumond Park’s John Mariani suffered a recent heart attack. John is one of the trade’s truly genuine nice guys, and thankfully I’m told he is on the mend – we wish him well with his recovery. I’d also like to wish MV’s Phil Ratcliffe a very happy 50th birthday (welcome to our exclusive little club!). Due to the fact it was my wife’s birthday, I was sadly unable to make Phil’s party, at which he was performing with his band (and Phil had even been brave/foolish enough to invite me to join in on a couple of numbers). So sadly the ‘toy trade super group’ remains an unfulfilled pipe-dream, but you never know, one day….