A view from the UK; John Baulch, publisher of Toys n’ Playthings


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For those of who don’t know me – and I’m guessing that there are many of you, particularly outside of the UK – let me tell you a little about myself. I started as a humble classified ad salesman on the now defunct Toy Trader magazine way back in 1980, and 30 enjoyable years later I am now the (still humble) publisher of leading UK toy trade title Toys n Playthings. In my early years I worked on a variety of b-2-b publications, most of which were not exactly what you would call earth-shattering; Blinds and Shutters, Brushes International, Water magazine (imagine the fun we had planning features for that title…). So landing a role on Toy Trader was something of an unexpected bonus, and I quickly realized that this was the industry for me.

I’ve always enjoyed working in the toy trade; the people, the products, the general feeling that we’re fortunate to be working in an industry that touches so many people and brings so much joy to so many. And although our role is to publish a monthly magazine, bringing the trade the latest information from our fast-moving industry, I feel just as much a part of the toy trade as part of the media. A lot of modern trade titles magazines adopt an almost dispassionate approach to their subject matter; we try to do the exact opposite. We go where toy people go, we talk regularly to all sides of the toy industry, to help us – and ultimately our readers – to make sense of it all.

I suspect I will bring a slightly less eclectic, more business-orientated perspective to my column than some of Richard’s contributors. But, as they say, variety is the spice of life, and I’m sure that Richard’s broad brush approach will mean this site will have something of interest for just about everyone. I’m also pleased to be able to offer a view from ‘across the pond’; there are many parallels between the USA and the UK toy industries, and between the two countries’ cultures, but there are also many differences. For the past two decades we have included an American contributor in the pages of Toys n Playthings; for many years it was the truly incomparable Norman Walker, and now the mantle has been ably taken up by Richard. I’m delighted to be able to reciprocate, and hope that some occasional thoughts from the UK will add to the overall sum of knowledge to be gleaned from Richard’s endeavors.

Best Regards

John

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