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The Force is with Disney and Dream Toys, but not with Air Berlin…it’s the Friday blog!

Published on: 2nd November 2012

It’s been a very busy week. Under normal circumstances, playing in the Perudo championship alongside the charming (and refreshingly down-to-earth) Konnie Huq, and attending a special art exhibition devoted to Sylvanian Families, would merit longer mentions than space permits this time round.

For not only has it been Dream Toys week, but there is also the small matter of Disney acquiring Lucasfilm and promising to deliver new Star Wars movies to comment on. Let’s address the Disney situation first; I am neither a geek nor a Star Wars ‘fan boy’, so I can see no downside to the move. Reservations were expressed when Disney took on Marvel, yet Avengers Assemble was both a commercial and critical triumph. The $4 billion which Disney spent on Marvel is already looking like money well spent. If you gamble big and win big once, I’m sure it encourages you to do the same again. With the ability to leverage the Star Wars and Indiana Jones brands through multiple arenas, from TV to movies, theme parks to the online world, I have little doubt that it all adds up to a great opportunity for Disney. And personally, I think that the hard core Star Wars devotees have nothing to worry about – the Avengers movie proved the doubters wrong, and showed that classic sci-fi franchises are in perfectly safe hands with Disney (let’s just forget John Carter, everyone has the occasional ‘bad day at the office’).

Dream Toys once again succeeded in bringing toys to the attention of the national consumer media, with the resulting coverage hopefully galvanising parents to start their festive shopping over the coming days. The general consensus was that there were fewer camera crews present this year; I’m sure Hurricane Sandy didn’t help, and maybe even the BBC move to Salford had an impact. But good old Daybreak sent a crew along to the event the night before, and broadcast the segment four times during Wednesday morning’s programme (Dave Murphy did ask me to point this out, as he didn’t want a repeat of the stick he took a few years back when ITV didn’t turn up!). Coverage from the nationals remained strong, and there was plenty of online presence as well. Overall, the vast majority of the exhibitors seemed happy with proceedings, and it’s great to see toy companies come together and put aside commercial rivalries to promote the toy trade as a whole. Good work by everyone concerned, especially the TRA.

At the event, talk frequently turned to the state of trading, with concerns expressed about everything from the low level of stock holding within some accounts to a potential shortage of lorries (based on the lateness with which some deliveries are being organised by certain retailers). And most of all, everyone has their eyes firmly on the imminent Amazon Black Friday promotion, due to start on November 19th. With promotions driving so many consumer purchasing decisions at present, this particular week-long event could have significant repercussions for everyone selling toys.

A few pieces of gossip to finish with: Elaine Hooper is moving over from toys to become the John Lewis beauty buyer, to be replaced by Ian Ellis, who starts in mid December. Anyone who has booked – or was thinking of booking – on the Air Berlin direct flight from Gatwick to Nuremberg for the Toy Fair should know that, in their infinite wisdom, the buffoons at Air Berlin have decided to cancel it as from 1ST February, the Friday of the Nuremberg Toy Fair. They are half-heartedly offering inconvenient alternatives (such as an indirect flight from Stansted via Dusseldorf), but I suspect people might like to consider making other arrangements. Air France has a direct flight out of City Airport which might be worth considering for starters.

And finally, I was delighted to be able to announce Toy World’s brand new partnership with NPD earlier this week. You’ll see the first column in our December issue, and it will appear every month thereafter. Great news for Toy World, and yet more proof – if proof were needed – that Toy World is most definitely continuing to move in the right direction. 2013 is shaping up to be a very interesting year indeed from a toy trade press perspective….

Speaking of which, I hope you enjoy our November issue, which will be with you any day now (in fact, if you have an efficient postman, you may even have received it this morning).