If you are around anyone who just left the 2014 New York Toy Fair you may notice a low, barking cough. No, they are not sick; they just have a form of Kennel Cough which I call Toy Fair Cough. It is the result of four days of non-stop talking in a Javits Center environment that rivals the Sahara Desert for dryness.
So pardon me as while writing this I cough (cough, cough, cough) a bit. Here are my observations on the show:
A happy show
I would characterize this year’s show as "happy." Exhbitors and attendees smiled and laughed a great deal and in general were enjoying themselves more this year than years past. This to me could mean that the industry's spirits are up and that is good for any industry.
Show attendance was up
I had a major toy company tell me that they normally return home with catalogs that they had not given out. This year was different; they ran out by the second day. I am fascinated by this not only because it is an indication that attendance was up (at least at that booth) but it flies in the face of the notion that attendees would prefer not to carry around a load of catalogs but access the information on line after the show.
Another reason I felt attendance was up was because, well (duhhhhhhhhh), there were lots more people walking around. Really, that’s important because many noted that last year; we had a strong Sunday and a major attendance drop off on Monday. Not this year, Monday was wild and that lifted everyone's spirits.
Soren Torp Laursen of Lego dances to "Everything is Awesome"
Compliments to Jim Silver (Editor in Chief of TimeToPlayMag.com) for his Toy Fair interviews with John Barbour of Leapfrog, Brian Stockton of Mattel, Bryan Goldner of Hasbro and Soren Torp Laursen of Lego. The interviews were well done but it is the normally under-stated Mr. Laursen who surprises by dancing to the “Everything is Awesome” song from the new The Lego Movie. Awesome! You can see Soren dance and Jim Silver’s other interviews by clicking here.
Changing of the guard
Joan Luks, Principal of the Serenata Group handed the Women in Toys Presidential gavel over to Ashley Mady, President at Brandberry. Joan Luks is one of those wonderfully disarming, quiet people who make the toy industry a better place to live and work without making a splash. Ashley has a tough act to follow but with that big smile and personality I am sure she is more than up to it.
Laurie Shacht, publisher of The Toy Book , The Toy Insider and Adventure Publishing riding around in a wheelchair because she sprained her ankle (or broke her foot; I am sorry Laurie but I can’t remember which) running from a lion while on Safari in Africa. Let this be a lesson to anyone planning on being OUT IN THE OPEN with LIONS.
And once again, the winner is Mary Couzin and Hook Logic’s inventor party at O’Connell’s pub. It’s not the food (but those chicken wings were particularly good) and not the alcohol (of which there was a great deal imbibed) but the sheer energy of having all of the toy and game inventors and those who love them in the same room at the same time.
Act of Giving
Michael Rinzler and Jeremy Padawer of Wicked Cool Toys turned over a portion of their space to a bootstrapping toy company short of capital. I thought this was a great gesture and wondered how great it would be if some of our other toy companies took newbies under their wing and helped them get started.
At the ribbon cutting, Strawberry Shortcake was really, and I mean really, into the music. I don’t know who was in that costume but they can sure dance. I felt bad for the person in that that big square thing costume who could only lean side to side while the music played.
Please write in and tell us your Toy Fair highlights. As for me, I had a great time and I hope you did too (cough, cough, cough).