And so the Licensing Show is officially open for business. I make my way to the press office, which is so far away from the main floor that it is almost in the next county. But the press team is very helpful, and they tell me that the main celebrities in attendance today will be UK boy band One Direction, who are apparently extremely popular in the States right now. Unfortunately I miss their photo call due to a meeting, but by all accounts they draw quiet a crowd. Olly Murs is also in town; Shanti and Liz from the Advanstar team prove this by showing me a photo taken with him in the bar last night.
The mini ‘British invasion’ also applies to show attendees. There were some concerns expressed before the event that there would be a reduced number of Brits travelling to Vegas this year, but in practice the turnout appears to be healthy. There are several toy retail representatives (Argos, TRU, The Entertainer), plus a number of apparel buyers from the grocers. There is inevitably a larger group of licensees present, and today’s appointments are interspersed with numerous conversations in the aisles which cover everything from ‘slicensing’ (favourite comment: “One licensor signed up one of my competitors to produce mini board games. So I asked them, have you ever come across a mini board game buyer?”) to what constitutes reasonable value accommodation (Hornby’s Nat Southworth has a particularly interesting take on this subject, which he has been asked to keep quiet about by other visitors).
But one point which unites everyone walking the aisles is the frankly illogical booth numbering system, which appears to have been dreamed up by someone who suffers from a severe form of dyscalculia (which you might have guessed is the numerical equivalent of dyslexia….see, this column can be both entertaining and informative!). Show organiser Advanstar has promised a new floor layout next year, with specific zones for each category (entertainment, sport etc). Hopefully the reorganisation will include an improved numbering system, which would cut down on the number of people standing in the middle of the aisles looking bewildered or arriving 10 minutes late for their appointments.
It’s been a suitably busy first day: I was one of the first people to catch a sneak peek at footage from next year’s Postman Pat movie (which looks impressive), I met up with the ever-growing Zodiak team to look at their new pre-school property Tickety Toc, and had an interesting chat with Mattel’s David Allmark, who tells me that the Mattel / Hit integration is really coming together now (which is no mean feat considering the difference in the cultures of the two companies) and how delighted the company is with the early progress of Mike the Knight, which he describes wryly as “a gift with purchase.”
I also spoke to Trudi Hayward at ITV, who is delighted to have been appointed to handle the licensing programme for Platinum Film’s ratings winner Matt Hatter Chronicles, which joins popular app Cut the Rope in ITV’s portfolio, giving Trudi some brands with real toy potential to work with. And it was good to catch up with Activision’s Ian McClellan, who come out with the understatement of the day, describing Skylanders as “going reasonably well “ (a line delivered with a grin that shows just how stellar its performance has been – which makes me pleased that Toy World was the first magazine to recognise its potential when it made its debut last autumn).
Showing my devotion to duty, I even skipped the Mike the Knight cocktail party at the end of the afternoon in order to return to my room to compose today’s blog; it somehow seems safer to be writing it whilst not under the influence (when my radar for what constitutes acceptable copy, and which titbits should be left out, could potentially be compromised!).