Nico Blauw Provides a European Perspective on the L.A. and N.Y. Toy Shows

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. Today, Nico gives us a European view of the toy industry landscape.

The LA previews were a big success this past September, and this event will continue to grow in 2024. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers worldwide made the effort to come to Los Angeles and were pleasantly surprised with the efficiency and location of previews. As a result, more companies are investing now in permanent (showroom) space in the El Segundo area. Even my good old friend, Jay Foreman from Basic Fun, raised the white flag and admitted, “It is happening in LA.” And if Jay says so, it means something.

The most interesting thing about the LA previews? There is no formal organization behind it. Other than a few people with common sense doing some coordination, the event itself is one that grew organically and continues to grow. By the way, did I tell you as of 2024 (!) there will be a direct train connection between El Segundo and the LA Convention Centre? In 30 minutes, you can get from A to B. That sounds close to the commuting time between the Hong Kong Toy Fair and TST/Kowloon. That was never a real problem, was it? Hello!! Is somebody home up there?

A short stop followed a (excellent) 2-week stay in LA and Bentonville before I continued my US trip to New York to attend the Toy Fair. Even though I was not too fond of the timing of this event, I was happy to be back at the show once I saw industry friends and associates. We shared (old) stories, some jokes, and a few drinks. Trade fairs are like a reunion in this small industry where most people tend to stay forever.

In that light, it is mind-boggling how disconnected the Toy Association seems to be with its members. This New York’s Toy Fair started positively, albeit with a ‘little bit’ of rain on Friday. There was good energy and a great atmosphere at Javits Center. But then Sunday came: the TA came with its announcement about the timing and location of the upcoming US toy fairs. 

I never understood the move to late September 2023 without a backup plan for (late) 2024. Also, as it appeared from the announcement, there was no prior set plan for 2025 either; otherwise, I cannot explain the ‘odd’ March decision. 

But the TA, being the TA, had it all figured out after numerous consultations with its members and whatever other research the TA did to back up their decisions; with big smiles and proud faces, they released the announcement to the trade, not knowing they were throwing a boomerang that is exploding in their faces.

So, the NYTF 2025 will take place in March 2025. Where many expected a “back to February” or November date… March came out of the hat!! I wish I had placed bets on ‘March’ being the date. I guess the industry can overcome March, although the timing doesn’t make much sense. 

But the Toy Association wasn’t done yet. It revealed the toy fair plans for ’26/’27 and ’28. They appeared to feel that January would be the most suitable to organize this fair – right between the Hong Kong and London Toy Fairs and only weeks before the Nurnberg show. Does The TA want to drop the ‘International’ aspect and become an American-only fair moving forward” If so, I can tell you the TA has succeeded. On top of this, the TA derailed its relationships with its counterparts in Hong Kong, London, and Nurnberg.

Based on all the ‘apparent’ feedback the TA received from its members and based on all the deep research it had done, they announced the new location: New Orleans. I wish I had placed bets on ‘New Orleans’ being the new Toy Fair location: I could leave New York being a millionaire.

From all the members I have spoken to, no one supports the choice of New Orleans and these January dates. Assuming the TA didn’t follow its member’s recommendations or, even worse, did not consult them, something is about to smell bad.

By the way, as of 2024 (Hint, Hint), there will be a direct train connection between El Segundo and the LA Convention Centre? In 30 minutes, you can get from A to B. That sounds close to the commuting time between the Hong Kong Toy Fair and TST/Kowloon. Hello!! Is somebody home up there?

The author’s comments do not necessarily reflect that of Global Toy News or its Publisher.

One thought

  1. New Orleans is a great and fun city, but such a flawed choice for TF. Even from Florida, I can’t fly nonstop and it’s the same from many USA cities/states. And Int’l visitors have it worse. Can’t see this decision surviving. ChiTag and LA are the winners.

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