To many of you, the cancellation of Toy Fair is a relief, to some a disappointment, and to others a disaster. Toy Fair, which, before last year, had only been canceled once (World War II), will not take place again this year (it even took place during the 1919 flu epidemic).
No one is at fault. Some were scared about Covid, others about losing money due to low attendance. The Toy Association had to make a tough business decision.
I believe Toy Fair could have taken place, although with fewer exhibitors and attendees. What killed it was that those who decided not to come made news while those who were coming went unnoticed. It was the classic case of “Man Bites Dog” versus “Dog Bites Man.” A downside to a digital age in which news goes viral, sometimes before verification.
The decision not to hold Toy Fair will have long-lasting effects. There are young members of our industry who do not have the history of Toy Fair attendance in their bones. They are digital natives who already discount physical contact. They will grow up to be leaders in our industry in which their seminal years were spent attending Zoom calls. Toy Fair will have far less emotional meaning for them.
Toy companies are learning that they can go to market without having the expense (anywhere from a quarter of a million to half a million dollars and more ) to build and ship booths while sending staff to work their exhibit space. These companies may find that they can forgo Toy Fair and put their year together from a distance.
What does this mean? It could mean that a 100 plus year rite of passage could slip away through a lack of passion and interest. All the non-monetary advantages of attending the show would also slip away if it does. It would mean that we will no longer be getting the big Toy Fair family together.
How many sales were made because the buyer could touch the product?
How much business was saved because of a seller’s ability to read body language.
How many friendships did we make because of Toy Fair?
How much did each of us learn from attending Toy Fair?
How many deals were done due to chance meetings?
How many new ideas were created?
How many memories do all of us have?
Is Toy Fair an essential part of the toy industry’s year? We are about to find out.
What a education. Attended my first in 1964 as a invitee by Bill Tollin the Korvettes toy buyer
( I was a dept toy manager) 14 floors of the Toy Building with maybe 30 rooms per floor and sometimes 10 vendors in a room and we took 3 weeks to go through EVERY floor and room. Not to mention crossing over to 1107 Broadway. Meeting , in those days, with salesmen that would go on to own their own companies or be CEO’s of the “ big guys” and learning about the “ mysterious Orient” and pick up tid bits on how a product is designed and manufactured. Truly the Golden Age of the Toy Business. Going on to attend or contribute to another 50 plus years and loving every one. The Toy show you refer to now is just another convention. Standing on a floor viewing a curtain covered 9 x 10 “ showroom.
I loved going to NYTF for the couple of years in which my company attended. We are planning on going again — hopefully in 2023. Going to Toy Fair, in person, gave us a chance to see products we didn’t know were available and, as a result of meetings and wholesale contracts signed at the show, gave us great products to sell.
The most important question:
How many lives will be saved?
Attending Toy Fair makes me sick to my stomach. No where on earth can you find such a collection of brand new garbage meant to be perpetrated on children, although Nürnberg is a close second. Obviously, there are also a few decent products whose manufacturers swallow hard and dutifully show up. But, really, Toy Fair makes that old SNL routine (remember Baby Bag-of-Glass?) seem only too true.