Seize the Play at Toy Fair: Q&A with The Toy Association’s Kimberly Carcone
October 25, 2022 | With the toy community’s plans for next year now underway, all roads are leading back to the ultimate destination that serves the industry: Toy Fair 2023. Toy News Tuesday editors caught up with Kimberly Carcone, executive vice president of global market events at The Toy Association, to learn about all the news and buzz building up for the show, taking place next September 30 to October 3 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.
How are plans shaping up for Toy Fair?
October is on fire with anticipation for Toy Fair next September. Our first round of applications from returning exhibitors was very strong and we are officially open for general sales. This week, our team will begin to assign booth spaces to the exhibitors that committed during our first round of sales, and the show floor will begin to come to life.
As we were planning for this edition of Toy Fair, backed by more than a year of research, we heard the industry loud and clear: The event had to evolve along with shifting schedules in the toy and entertainment landscape. The reality is that buying cycles have changed and delivery timelines have accelerated, so moving Toy Fair to the fall — and keeping it in the media and financial capital of the world — maintains the show’s importance and benefits the entire play community.
What should exhibitors know about the show?
The advantage for exhibitors is three-pronged. The fall timeframe provides toy manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their in-year priority items for the 2023 holiday season; gives a chance to finalize spring 2024 launches; and delivers the perfect environment, behind closed doors, to show trusted buyers and key media a preview of their holiday 2024 play products. No matter how the show has evolved, Toy Fair remains the epicenter for toymakers, retailers, buyers, and the media to connect across the play ecosystem and do business under one roof.
How will Toy Fair feel different next year?
As part of our reimagined Toy Fair experience, we took attendee feedback to heart and launched the visual merchandising initiative, which is designed to provide buyers, members of the press, and all Toy Fair attendees with an even more inviting floor plan. Exhibitors are now required to make product visible in at least 20 percent of their aisle-facing booth space. Fewer walls and more appealing displays allows for toy companies to use their Toy Fair booth in new and innovative ways, encourages more meaningful interaction with buyers, and attracts media attention at the start of the holiday season.
Toy Fair 2023 will debut the first-ever Reimagination Awards, created to showcase those exhibitors that go above and beyond in creating welcoming and attractive booths. During the first day of Toy Fair, a panel of media, trade show experts, and toy professionals will walk the show floor — like buyers and media do — and will judge exhibit spaces based on criteria including how creative and hospitable the display is and overall presentation. Toy Fair will recognize five companies in each of these categories: Connection, Out-of-the-Box, Powerfully Playful, and Warm Welcome.
Bringing everyone together with the power of play is what Toy Fair is all about, and that’s what we’re hoping to do with these new initiatives.
What else can Toy Fair attendees look forward to?
I’m happy to share that Toy Fair University will provide the most comprehensive educational programming in Toy Fair history. Our call for presentations are now open and sessions will be publicly listed in the spring for attendees to build the schedule that best suits their goals.
CF@TF (Creative Factor at Toy Fair) Inventor Day will return as part of the programming, taking place Friday, September 29, 2023. Select inventors and designers will have a chance to pitch their ideas to toy manufacturers, who will in turn have a chance to meet up-and-coming talent and discover the next big products. We’ll have more to share on CF@TF Inventor Day in the next few months.
And, we are truly excited to share that our Student Congress program is confirmed for Tuesday, October 3, 2023. This day of programming at the show is paramount to introducing the next generation of play professionals to careers in the industry through panel discussions, creative workshops, networking opportunities, and a chance to explore the show. Our goal is to show this promising pool of talent that this extraordinary industry is filled with future career destinations.
Whatever your place in the ecosystem of play, there is something for you at Toy Fair!
To secure booth space at Toy Fair, companies may contact their account executive: Simon Yung (A–G); Stacy Liebensohn (H–P); or Michael Lynch (Q–Z).
Toy Fair will take place September 30 to October 3 in New York City. Attendee registration will open spring 2023. Visit ToyFairNY.com to learn more.