The first Play Fair launched in February of 2016. This year's fair will take place in November 4-5, 2017 at the Javits Center. Play Fair differs from Toy Fair in that it is a consumer show. Toy Companies and retailers will have booths that are open to the public. Its a great way to launch the Christmas season and at the same time get an early feel for the public's hands on responses to the products.
Leftfield Media is partnering with The Toy Association in putting on the show and they bring a great deal of experience in consumer shows. So, to learn more about Play Fair I turned to Greg Topalian, the founder of Leftfield Media and the New York Comicon and a number of other fan events. Here is my interview with Greg.
Richard: For those unfamiliar with Play Fair, can you explain the difference between Toy Fair and Play Fair?
Greg: Play Fair, a joint venture between LeftfieldMedia and the Toy Association, is open to public as an event for families to experience a hands on interactive play environment where they can test out the
latest toys, discover new loved play products, meet and get photos with their favorite characters, and so much more! The Toy Association's Toy Fair is open to trade only, thousands of registered global play professionals attend to explore a record-breaking 443,000 net square feet of exhibit space filled with hundreds of thousands of toys, games and youth entertainment products.
Richard: Can you tell us a bit about last year's Play Fair?
Greg: The first Play Fair presented by Nickelodeon and Lego co-located with Toy Fair in February of 2016 at the Javits Center. Play Fair opened its doors to a sold out crowd of families with over 20,000 in
attendance. This year, Play Fair, presented by Nickelodeon, Toys R Us, and Spin Master, will be in three times the space with more stages, more character meet & greets, more brand experiences and with an
exciting new media preview on Friday night. Play Fair will run November 3-5, 2017 at the Javits Center.
Richard: Why are these fan conventions becoming so relevant and popular?
Greg: It is reflection of the social ties and at the same time, brands are recognizing the value of a personal connection with its customers and are seeking these opportunities more than ever.
Richard: What are the benefits for a participating brand? In other words, why are companies exhibiting? How is the renewal rate looking for this year?
Greg: Companies participate at Play Fair to connect directly with families and fans. It is a chance to strengthen brand connections, showcase products for the holiday season, and even offer point of purchase
retail opportunities at the event. With an expanded 230,000 square feet of space (triple the size of Play Fair 2016), Play Fair will once again sell out on space.
Play Fair 2017 will feature beloved family brands, including returning brands Nickelodeon, LEGO, Hasbro, Toys R Us and Mattel, all of which are planning amplified, one-of- a-kind experiences for 2017. New
participants will include family-favorite companies like Spin Master, Alex Brands, VTech/Leapfrog, Cartoon Network, Snazaroo, WowWee, Magformers and so many more.
Richard: Is Play Fair only for big companies? If I am a smaller company will I feel lost?
Greg: Play Fair is for companies of all sizes just as great play experience come from companies of all sizes! Though Play Fair does feature larger brands, we also feature many independent and small to medium companies that deliver memorable fan engagements. Our families attending enjoy the opportunity to discover new companies, brands and playthings that their children will love!
Richard: In that Play Fair is occurring at the kick off of the holiday season do you anticipate a large press presence?
Greg: This year, Play Fair will kick off with a Media Preview night on Friday, November 3. The special event will offer press, buyers, and industry professionals advance access to exhibitors, talent, entertainment, and play experiences. Preview Night attendees will also receive a first look at the finalists for The Toy Association’s 2018 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards.
Richard: How does a company sign up to exhibit?