It’s the final day of the show, and I catch my flight back to the UK this evening. As I walk through the hotel casino to spend my last few hours at the show this morning, I find myself singing along to the music that’s playing (Walking in Memphis). So I figure my spirits are in good shape and I must have enjoyed my trip (or maybe I’m just demob happy and looking forward to going home).
I feel it has been a productive trip. None of my meetings have cancelled on me, and even better, I’ve had some great impromptu discussions which have really been the icing on the cake. Sometimes it’s the unplanned meetings, those fortuitous ‘right place, right time’ occurrences which can make a trip really worthwhile.
Not too much has gone wrong: I have managed not to lose my glasses or catch swine flu this year. I have walked for miles and talked for England. I have eaten sporadically, which – together with the walking – should mean that I return home at the same fighting weight I arrived (no mean feat when you see the size of some of the food portions here).
The show was inevitably quieter today, but overall the attendance has seemed healthy. The biggest crowd I saw today was congregating around a small booth where Gene Simmonds from Kiss was making an appearance, sadly without his make-up. He didn’t do ‘the tongue thing’ either, which was a relief. But there are still plenty of people cramming in a final few meetings: it was great to bump into Paul Mitchell, who professed himself to be happy with Toys R Us’ first half trading, admitting that the poor weather has helped them to sell more toys. I guess it’s not so much fun if you’re an outdoor supplier, but as I’ve said before, one person’s loss is often another’s gain.
The ‘buzz’ this week has mostly been around Angry Birds, Skylanders and Tree Fu Tom, but there is also a renewed focus on evergreen properties, with the thought that tough times often lead to consumers sticking to tried and trusted brands (not to mention the inclination of retail buyers to err on the side of caution). So, for example, when you hear that Power Rangers has secured a terrestrial broadcaster (5), or that Hit is committed to investing in its stable of classics, this can only be good news for the trade. Some British brands are gaining momentum internationally; Peppa Pig is apparently going great guns in Australia and Spain, and after 8 years the signs are looking positive for Peppa to finally break the American market.
It’s not all good though, I’ve seen some absolutely terrible properties this week during my travels. The award for the tackiest brand goes to something called Once Upon a Zombie. Have you ever wondered what you get if you crossed Disney Princess with Monster High? Well wonder no more. The thing is, unless I’m badly mistaken, the world isn’t exactly crying out for undead versions of fairytale characters (especially when they’ve been so lazy that they haven’t even bothered to change the names….I can imagine the Disney lawyers having a field day with a green, scarred character called Cinderella!).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s blogs. I’ve certainly had many people here in Vegas tell me they’ve been reading them, and I hope it’s given a flavour of what’s been going on to some of those who didn’t make the trip this year. There will be extensive wrap-up coverage from the show in the July edition of Toy World, and the blog will return to its usual Friday slot next week.