The Toy Association held its annual meeting today. It announced that the Board of Directors has voted to move Toy Fair from February to sometime in the September through October period. They were unable to be specific about dates as the calendar is currently being negotiated.
As a result, this October will be the last Dallas Toy Fair. It will take place from September 20-22 at the Dallas Market Center.
And now a few thoughts on a momentous announcement:
- The Dallas Fall Toy Show in 2022 will be an extremely important show for the industry as there will be no Toy Fair in February of 2023. It would seem wise to sign up early.
- A New York Toy Fair occurring in the Fall will be a significant departure for the toy industry in several ways. One important one will be the likelihood that most booths will be closed. Most vendors will not want to disclose their new products so early in the selling season.
- A closed booth show will not be a strolling show. Part of the charm of the February show was the number of open booths. Much like in Nuremberg, a buyer can walk the show, looking for products that they would not have seen if the product had been behind closed doors.
- I have spoken with a high-level source at The Toy Association. They informed me that there would likely be a provision that all booths with a closed-off section must also have an area open to the public. The idea is that new, sensitive products would be behind closed doors while evergreen products would be visible. The intention is to create a show that feels open and worthy of a walk-around.
- A show that does not encourage strolling will be bad news for new companies who have their lines figuratively in the water, hoping to catch a big one.
- ASTRA will become far more critical as the timing of a Fall Toy Fair does not work for them. Small retail owners are not ready to make buying decisions in September or October. Yet, June may come too late in the new, revised toy industry calendar.
- The TOTY Awards will also take place in the Fall. That will be good for the nominees and winners as they will be able to broadcast their awards right at the beginning of the 4th quarter consumer selling season.
- Snow will no longer be the concern it has been for the past 119 years. That means more people will make it to the show with less anguish.
- The toy industry will, in essence, be experiencing a bi-coastal show. In the way that Kowloon and Hong Kong have complimented each other in January, the Los Angeles and New York events will provide a similar symmetry.
- Anticipate more Chinese manufacturers attending both the Los Angeles and New York events. With the New York Toy Fair taking place ahead of Hong Kong’s January show, it is unlikely that a trip to Hong Kong will be as attractive to Americans.
- Toy Fair has been taking place in the winter since its inception in 1903. The first attendees couldn’t fly to the show because the Wright Brothers didn’t take their first flight until 1904. They also couldn’t take the subway because it also opened in 1904. So, if you feel like the change in time of year is a bit surreal, it is not surprising. A 119-year pattern has just been broken, and a new paradigm is falling into place. We’ll get used to it.