More than 14,000 international toy industry professionals – from 96 countries – traveled to New York for Toy Fair
by Tina Manzer
At least 31,000 toy industry folks from around the world came to TIA’s annual event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The number of buyers (10,276), from both mass and specialty stores, increased more than 2 percent from last year, reports TIA. They represented 4,000 unique retail outlets including 22 of the nation’s top 25 toy sellers such as Amazon.com, American Girl, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Costco, CVS, Disney Store, Target, Toys“R”Us and Walmart.
Buyer attendance from brick-and-mortar outlets grew 9.2 percent.
The show drew notable increases in attendees from outside the U.S., including international buyers (up nearly 11 percent year-over-year), trade guests (plus 33.1 percent) and foreign press (17.2 percent). The top five countries represented at the show, not including the U.S. and Canada, were China, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Mexico and Japan.
“Toy Fair’s upbeat atmosphere matched a burgeoning U.S. toy market, which grew 5 percent in sales last year,” says the Toy Industry Association.
“This year’s show opened doors for American toymakers to new and emerging markets around the world, brought exciting trends and play experiences to life, and unveiled inventions from talented inventors and entrepreneurs,” says Steve Pasierb, the association’s president and chief executive.
More than 1,100 companies of all sizes and types showcased new products; many were presented for the very first time. Hundreds of thousands of toys and games were displayed in a record breaking 444,309 net square feet of exhibit space.
“From first-time exhibitors in our new ‘Launch Pad’ section, to veteran toymakers who have exhibited for decades, the diversity of vendors at Toy Fair continues to draw an enormous international crowd of play professionals to New York City,” notes Marian Bossard, TIA’s senior vice president of global market events.
“Toy Fair 2017 was my first trade show, and it’s going to be a tough act to follow,” says Morgan Clark, owner/creator of Butterflymachine. “The Launch Pad area was blowing up – it was like we just stood there and the entire toy industry came to us! We had the opportunity to talk with an unbelievable variety of industry professionals who were genuinely interested in our products. We got answers to questions we didn’t even know to ask.
“Toy Fair has been like rocket fuel for our little business,” she concludes.
Licensing executives from Amazon Studios, Cartoon Network, Disney Consumer Products, HBO, Lions Gate Entertainment, Marvel, Nickelodeon, Nintendo, Sesame Workshop, SONY Pictures, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and others were on-site to scout new trends and forge licensing agreements with toymakers.
More than 1,000 global print journalists, broadcast reporters, and bloggers were also on hand.
Toy Fair is the Western Hemisphere’s largest and most important toy show. The industry supports more than half-a-million American jobs and has a total U.S. economic impact of more than $80 billion. Next year, the 115th North American International Toy Fair will take place from Saturday, February 17 through Tuesday, February 20.
This year, from October 3 through 5, TIA’s Fall Toy Preview will take place in Dallas.
The top playthings were honored at the Toy of the Year Awards Gala at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on February 17.
The big winners of the night were LEGO Friends Amusement Park Roller Coaster, taking home the prestigious Toy of the Year award, and Pop! Collectibles from Funko, which won the coveted People’s Choice award for the most votes from consumers.
In total, awards were handed out in 14 categories.
DC Super Hero Girls Action Figure Assortment by Mattel
Bunch O Balloons by Zuru
Crayola Air Maker Sprayer by Crayola
Pop! by Funko
LEGO Friends Amusement Park Roller Coaster by LEGO Systems
Barbie Fashionista by Mattel
Yeti in My Spaghetti by PlayMonster!
Doc Mcstuffins Toy Hospital Care Cart by Just Play
Hatchimals by Spin Master Ltd.
License of the Year
Paw Patrol by Spin Master Ltd.
Rookie of the Year
3DoodlerStart Essentials Pen Set by WobbleWorks
LEGO Disney Castle by LEGO Systems Inc.
(see page 36)
CodeGamer by Thames & Kosmos
Star Wars Air Hogs X-Wing vs. Death Star – Rebel Assault by SpinMaster
Overall attendance at the Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair in Germany, February 1 through 6, also increased (73,297 visitors this year/70,714 last year); international visitors, too (44,032 this year/41,284 last year). Among the top 10 countries represented there were Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands, Spain, UK, Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium and Russia.
Citing figures from NPD Group Deutschland GmbH, Spielwarenmesse reports that the global toy market (measuring 11 countries) grew by 4.9 percent compared to last year. Europe recorded a 6 percent rise, as did Canada. The German toy market increased by 5 percent.
During the show, four companies received gold medals for their innovative products. From 635 products submitted for the Spielwarenmesse ToyAwards, here are the winners.
• Tegu Beans & Tumtum, a magnetic wooden block set from Tegu (baby and infant category)
• Mighty Mountain Mine from Hape (preschool category)
• LEGO Boost from LEGO (age-6-to-10 category)
• Revell Control X-treme Raver VR Racer from Revell GmbH (teenager/adult category)