Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse 2018 Toy Show; Some Final Thoughts

I began to think about how many unique toys were on display (over a million I am told and can easily believe) and how few of them American children ever see.


The Spielwarenmesse is a truly remarkable show. From the quality of its exhibits to the quantity of its participants to its astounding logistics and operations it is truly an experience. 

As I made my way through the 17 display floors, a number of them as big as the main floor at the Javits Center in New York, I began to think about how many unique toys were on display (over a million I am told and can easily believe) and how few of them American children ever see.

The majority of children (and parents for that matter) see the toy industry as consisting of the products they see displayed in our two largest mass market chains:  Walmart and Target. Between the two chains, it is unlikely that they carry more than 50,000 unique items. That is 5% of the total number of toys exhibited at the just completed Spielwarenmesse.

Why don't we see a bigger variety at these chains? Its not that they don't care; it's that they simply do not have sufficient space. Its also because many of these toys are not available in the US due to the costs of entry and the necessity of doing additional testing. 

What they do see is typically a brand or product that they have seen on television, the social networks and Youtube. There is, as a result, little in the way of a surprise on Christmas morning. As a result, I am concerned that we are perceived as a little boring. 

It is highly doubtful that chains like Target and Walmart will ever dedicate the space needed to really offer what a great toy store should ultimately provide: Surprise and charm for the visitor. Perhaps this is why some of the toys that have done well in the last two years are toys that provide a surprise like blind packs, Hatchimals from Spin Master and LOL Surprise from MGA. 

What I would like to see happen is for more foreign brands to enter the US market and for those who specialize in retailing toys expand their mix of products. Many of us can remember the delight of walking into FAO Schwarz as children and being overwhelmed with excitement. We need that again and we need that now.

5 thoughts

  1. Well said indeed! The innovation (and the booth artistry) in Nuremberg always far outshines NY in my book. It’s also amazing to see booths that are bigger than anything you would see in NY, but that are for brands we never see in the US. As usual, I left inspired and excited for Toy Far in NY!

  2. welcome to check our website ,and contact me sophia( for more new items .Everyday we will present the new items in our best which is the designed by the local designer and factory .Not licensed but some of them are reall unique with good qualtiy .

  3. Well written and a challenge for us independent toy stores to search out truly unique toys so we continue to surprise and charm our customers.

  4. Having just arrived home from Nuremberg, I too still have that Spielwarenmesse “glow”. For me, I think most mass merchants are so enraptured with licensed toys that they forget about the rest of the market. Not every customer is interested in the newest hot license or TV-promoted plaything. Some customers simply want quality, well-designed toys that need no licensed character to make it fun. That’s what makes Spielwarenmesse so special.
    Variety doesn’t necessarily require more space, it just requires the courage to take the path less traveled.

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