John Baulch is, without a doubt, the most informative and entertaining observer of the British toy industry. John recently promoted, attended, and wrote about the U.K. Toy Fair, one of the few trade shows of any kind to take place in 2022, for his magazine, Toyworld.
It is with John’s permission, that I am publishing his account here in Global Toy News.
What an incredible week. After a gap year that seemed like an eternity at times, the London Toy Fair returned…with a bang! The energy, the positivity, the delight at seeing old friends and colleagues, the fun of meeting new people for the first time and the joy at finally being able to see product in the flesh again all made for an uplifting event.
Maybe there are people out there who prefer to present toys on zoom. Maybe there are buyers who would rather evaluate and assess new lines digitally. It’s just that I have yet to meet anyone from either group.
Of course, despite the fact that it was the only major toy show able to take place this year, there were still no guarantees that it would be a success. Would people actually come? Would it be strange wearing a mask all day – would that make it feel a bit awkward and impersonal? Would HR teams prevent certain major buyers from attending? Would it all be a bit of an anti-climax?
I am absolutely delighted to say – with hand on heart – that the reverse was true. There was a palpable, electric buzz that no amount of masks could kill. Buyers seem to have triumphed over their HR departments; teams from the majors were out in force, while numerous indies also made the trip. There was also a welcome bonus as many international attendees came along, not just from all parts of Europe as we had perhaps anticipated, but from further afield too. I liked the tale of two South American visitors who couldn’t speak a word of English, who were so keen to see new ranges after the New York show was cancelled that they made the trip and relied on the international language of toys being enough. I gather there would have been even more international attendees if the Nuremberg show had been called off earlier; by the time it was confirmed, it was too late for visitors from places like Russia and other countries to obtain the necessary visas.