Nico Blauw is President and CEO of BOTI, Ltd., and BOTI Europe, BV. Nico has an impressive resume, having founded BOTI and serving as the CEO of Upper Deck International BV/Upper Deck Europe BV. He is an outspoken advocate for the toy industry.
This is the first time since 2006 I have not attended the #distoy. And while I am here at my office doing a ton of work, I was wondering by myself if I was going to miss anything in London this week. And the answer is: I am not. I do not miss the toy people, because I saw pretty much everyone at the recent Nurnberg TF and LA previews and will see them in September & October.
The remarkable thing about the toy industry…nobody really leaves. And when one leaves, 90% comes back (crying) in the shortest possible time. And when they return home to us believers: we forgive them and welcome them back in our arms. Most of us cannot adapt to other industries. And those trying miss the dynamics, the rush, the energy and constant need for change and newness. The tension when a new product releases…oh we love it so much. Toys are like drugs to us. And it keeps us young (not by our looks by any means). See how excited Isaac Larian is showing pictures of (again) empty MGA displays at retail. I believe he is close to his 70s. Or take Richard North who cannot stop posting articles about his happiness at the age of 60. See his pictures and you see a 6ft tall kid with sparkling eyes..with hair on his chest. If you are younger than 70 years of age, you cannot join the board of directors @ Character Options Limited…below 70 you are barely considered an adult. Anton Rabie is trying to convince us that there is scientific approach behind the success of SpinMaster but it was faith that brought 3 boys together who formed a brilliant mix of talent, perseverance and guts. Same as it was for Nick Mowbray and his siblings. It is all about love for product & chance that makes us do what we do, while we could probably make (much) more money in other industries.
So we recycle ourselves in this industry, we all become dinosaurs who won’t go extinct. We get to see the same people and companies several times a year. And we still don’t get bored. Yes there are new kids on the block, thank god there is some refreshment in this industry.
Am I concerned that I am going to miss out the next big thing by not attending Distoy? No! If I have to attend Distoy to find the next big thing, then we did not pay attention in the past 6-12 months. Our network is immens, daily we check our sources all over the world, but most importantly we want to be masters of our own destiny and this is why we built our own products, which is the real fun: Interacting with kids, market research, design and engineering. And after some significant failures that really hurt us in the beginning, we continued to work hard and with the support and patience of my partners Stephan Volcke, Stefan Volcke and the BOTI Global Ltd. team we have managed to turn the corner even though there is stills ton of work to accomplish.