Sunday, February 15, 2009

I am in New York this week. Its the Annual New York Toy Show, the biggest toy show in the US. I always enjoy this show. The number of exhibitors is unbelievable. I do not have a booth this year. We set up meetings around New York and are finding that to be an effective way to follow up with customers. Its a little more relaxed when we speak. I feel like we get to really know what the buyers a looking for in a more laid back atmosphere.

If you have never been to a Toy Fair, this is the one to go to. Next year go on the web site and sign up. You will walk a lot, but also be amazed at the amount of toys there are that you never see in a store. Some of the neatest toys (in my opinion), I never see at retail. I have no idea why.

Toy Fair has evolved in the last few years. It used to be the toy industry had a building in New York and everyone leased space in the building. There was a show at the Javitz Center at the same time, but it was mainly for smaller toy and game manufacturers. All the big companies were in the "Toy Building". The showrooms were all closed and meetings were by appointment.

A few years ago the Toy Building was sold and turned into condos (why didn't the TIA buy the building years ago???). All the toy companies lost their leases. So now, all the toy companies, big and small have booths in the Javitz Center.

This makes walking the show much more enjoyable. Companies work very hard to make their booths attractive. Some of them are so clever. I do not know if the show gives out any awards for booth execution, but it should. The competition would be fierce.

I think you can tell a lot about a company from their booth. Some are completely closed with walls on all 4 sides and a receptionist at the door. Others are totally open and even seem to encourage everyone to come see what they have. And the rest fall in between. Every company fears being copied by the competition. And I believe that drives alot of the booth design. It is too bad the industry has to be this concerned (see Bratz vs Hasbro for how much money is involved with a good idea/design). I guess I am just naive enough to wish that all the booths were more open and on the last day they allowed real kids to come in and try the products. I attended a candy show in Chicago a few years ago that opened the door to the public on the last day. What a great way to quickly know if a new product or company has a winner or not.


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