President’s Letter: For the Love of In-Person Product Discovery
February 14, 2023 | Happy Valentine’s Day! So far, the love letter of our wonderful toy and play community in 2023 is all about the joy of reuniting. With three years of disruption, hardships, and working together to find new ways of doing business (and overusing the phrase “new normal”) now behind us, our industry has collectively emerged from this pandemic period at a fast clip. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that sentiment than the great energy and success our colleagues at the British Toy & Hobby Association and Spielwarenmesse recently delivered. London and Nuremberg seriously brought the love.
We, too, felt that heartfelt energy during the wildly successful Preview & Holiday Market last September, which blew away attendance and all past metrics as hundreds of toy industry professionals made that final trip to Dallas a success. The aisles were bustling with innovation, exhibit booths were lively with hugs and handshakes from colleagues, and, most importantly, buyers got hands-on with the toys that they will be stocking their shelves in the months ahead.
People and their love of toys and discovery went to greater levels over the past several weeks as every review and LinkedIn comment about London documented the delight of being surrounded by good people and great products. As I walked — or perhaps better said, tried to navigate around the bodies — through the halls of Nuremberg Messe, it was clear the hot categories were even hotter as some halls and hallways were next to impassable at times. All this portends well for our collective future as an industry. Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make these shows a triumph.
Now, The Toy Association is honored to carry the enthusiasm forward with a reimagined Toy Fair™ this fall in New York City (taking place September 30 to October 3 with the Toy of the Year Awards kicking things off on September 29). The numbers show the global industry can’t wait either! Reinforcing the event’s impact on the play community, 95% of Toy Fair’s exhibit space is already sold out, proving toymakers are eager to take advantage of the business-building opportunities this new timeframe provides. Our Board of Director’s decision for a fall Toy Fair reflects research insights into today’s shifting buying cycles and accelerated delivery timelines, and will help companies gain exposure for their current holiday drivers, set the groundwork for 2024 spring priorities, and host 2024 holiday product previews behind closed doors. The now required mix of open product displays and private space will break down walls and fuel greater excitement.
Once again, play professionals from 100 countries together with members of the global press will have direct access to a broader range of products, while exhibitors will have greater opportunity to expand their networks. But the Toy Fair team is hard at work making certain there are fresh experiences reflecting our vision for a reimagined show experience. There will be something new for everyone, even for those who have attended for decades. Toy Fair will introduce new “neighborhoods” around the show like our “Pet PLAYce.” The show will also feature several pavilions, including Spielwarenmesse’s World of Toys and one dedicated to Halloween, and many more new areas we’re sharing in the coming months. From the largest lineup of educational programming during Toy Fair University to a new way of considering booth designs with the Exhibit Design Awards, fresh opportunity awaits!
Toy Fair will have it all: manufacturers of all sizes and types, new product categories, discovery and delight for attendees ranging from mass market to specialty toy retailers and gift buyers, a fresh look and feel on the show floor, actionable educational content, invaluable networking, and some big surprises yet to be announced! Toy Fair 2023 will be good for business and good for the soul.
Here’s to the spirit of reuniting and to your continued prosperity. See you in September!
President & CEO
The Toy Association