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The week in toys…it’s the Friday Blog!

Published on: 16th August 2013

Things are definitely beginning to hot up out there. I touched on this last week, but it really does seem that the launch of the Argos catalogue acts as a catalyst to kick-start the selling season. There was also a big Argos supplier conference last week (which unfortunately we weren’t invited to, which is a bit of a shame: if The Entertainer can do it, I’m not entirely sure why others don’t feel that they should…). Everyone I’ve spoken to has been full of praise for the event, with one supplier commenting that the fact Argos is so open and happy to share information “allows us to be good”. By all accounts there are some significant developments to its logistics systems coming through next year, and the overall plan to make Argos less reliant on the catalogue going forward appears to be coming on apace now.

The big news from the world of toys this week was the acquisition of Meccano by Spin Master. It’s been a relatively open secret that Meccano has been ‘exploring its options’ for a little while, so it’s good to see a resolution being reached. Meccano’s manufacturing base in Calais has been retained as part of the deal, and Meccano employees have been welcomed into the Spin Master organisation (for the time being at least). With K’Nex opening its own UK subsidiary in 2014, the Construction sector will undoubtedly be as lively and competitive as ever next year, and it will certainly be interesting to see what plans Spin Master has for the iconic Meccano brand in due course.

As a small postscript to last week’s Tesco story, I gather Nick Cooke is also leaving for pastures new, although he had obviously moved away from toys a while back anyway. Also, for anyone who wasn’t aware (as indeed I wasn’t), former Toys R Us buyer Richard Beckwith has joined HTi.

The BTHA has announced that next year’s Toy of the Year Awards will be held at the Science Museum, a venue which is conveniently situated ‘round the corner’ from the Toy Fair in Kensington and will also doubtless lend a more conducive atmosphere to next year’s proceedings. Ticket prices will remain at the same level as this year (£75), and there will even be a free bar and desserts after the award ceremony, so that should please those people who didn’t feel that this year’s ceremony at Olympia quite hit the mark.

On the subject of awards, I was fascinated to see that one toy awards organiser will actually be charging for its award trophies this year! I must admit I checked the press release several times to make sure I wasn’t somehow misreading it; but no, it really does appear to be the case. Interesting concept….

I have some potentially good news for anyone who has experienced challenges with the hotel situation in Nuremberg. I’m hugely impressed with the organisers of the Spielwarenmesse, who have taken feedback on board and done their best to address the situation. So, in addition to persuading a number of Nuremberg hotels to offer cheaper rooms during the latter stages of the show, they have also reserved a quantity of rooms in several high quality hotels near Munich railway station. A package of accommodation in Munich inclusive of the return train fare to Nurnberg (journey time is apparently only one hour) will possibly be up to 50% cheaper than staying in the equivalent Nurnberg hotels. Full details will appear on www.toyfair.de in mid-September, so it’s definitely something worth keeping an eye on.

Finally, it’s the last call for anyone who would like to be part of the Toy World Fantasy Premier League this year. The code is 147902-41826 – we already have 14 toy and licensing people onboard, so if anyone else would like to join our merry band, feel free to sign up at fantasy.premierleague.com.

You can follow John on Twitter @Baulchtweet.