As the final hours ticked down to the end of Toy Fair, I made a final trek around the show floor getting reactions, suggestions and feedback from exhibitors about their four-day stint at Javits.
The overall consensus was that the mood was upbeat and the aisles busier. Attendance was certainly up with many reporting that a broader range of media (particularly bloggers) made for a more congested show. Even on the last day when the aisles typically feel more like vacant lots, people scurried about finishing up last minute appointments and trying to pencil in some new ones.
The broad range of contacts for first-time exhibitor Fairy Dust Ltd. was an unexpected surprise. "There was such a wide range of different contacts here such as manufacturer reps, inventors and all kinds of press. These groups provide a benefit to us and we made so many contacts that I hope will lead to new business after the show," said David Grau, director of manufacturing for the company that specializes in creating make-your-own glitter-based bath and body products for both girls. A boys' line of mud scrub and mad lab has also been added.
While another first time exhibitor Ron Finch, president of Bike Brightz, maker of light-up bicycle accessories, didn't have a lot of expectations, he thought the show was good and his products such as a lighted wire that wraps around the bicycle frame received a good response.
David Stern, president of Bubble Thing, felt his location adjacent to the press room impacted the traffic that he and his other late registrants experienced. "I didn't write as many orders, but I did have a lot of interest from reps and international distributors. The show's diverse retail base has also allowed us to improve our understanding of how to deal with the mass market."
The less than ideal location also effected late registrants like Webb Candy with national sales manager Matt Montgomery reporting that "traffic was light" to see products such as Quick Milk Straws, custom made mints and other novelty candy items.
Over in the main aisles, things were buzzing at Briarpatch with director of sales, Robert Sica reporting that the volume of business and traffic was good, not great. "It is a brave new world out here and companies need to create new ways of playing with toys."
ThinkFun had its "best Toy Fair in 26 years with lots of foot traffic and interest among attendees," according to Charlotte Fixler, communication manager. Getting a great reaction was its Roll & Play, the company's first game for toddlers (18 mos+). Also getting a great reaction were two brain teaser games Daily Puzzle and Stenzzles.
For those naysayers who question the viability of trade shows, Frank Adler, president of Uncle Milton summed it up best. "The show had great energy, was well attended and had great representation. It is important to keep in mind that a national show still has its place. It is good for the industry to have everyone in one place at one time."
What also made a huge impression on me was the growth and diversity of companies such as Imperial Toys, TechnoSource and Jelly Belly. Stay tuned for profiles on the evolution of these exciting new leaders in the toy category.
Have another company that has made a major transformation? I'd love to hear about it, please contact me at email@example.com.