New York ToyFair Review 2018

New York Toyfair Review 2018

If I had to describe the 2018 American International toyfair in New York City in one word, that one word would be ‘vibrant’!

Despite some high profile challenges curently affecting the toy industry this years show was mostly upbeat and left me feeling that the North American toy industry is seriously full of beans! Aside from the high level of pizzazz and showmanship which is always impressive to under stated Brits like myself, the depth, breadth and quality of product on show and the energy and enthusiasm encountered were as good as it gets.

Generally I find it impossible to give a true overview of such a big event as I ony have one pair of eyes, and everybody judges the event by their own criteria. However, the overall mood I found when taling to toy cmpanies big & small was overwhelmingly upbeat and positive.

Looking category by category, there is no doubt that the collectibles space is a little over crowded right now, but featuring some of the best concepts & product executions I can remember in 20 years in the business. The games category seems ebullient with a mind blowing array of games to suit all tastes. The action figures (mass market kid targeted & collectors) was also in strong effect. I’ve also been really impressed by the wide range of Plush & creative play products coming onto the market this year.

There were two dark clouds on the horizon judging from the multitude of conversations I had – the latest speculation on Toys R Us and the challenge of making licensing work in an increaisngly over crowded movie franchise environment, while kids switch ever more to user generated content via Youtube & other online channels. On the entertanment front, I have genuinely never seen or talked to so many companies seeking to mvoe away from licensing. There seems to be a real sense right now that traditional kids entertainment content needs to reset to maintain industry wide committment in the face of ever more fragmented content consumption by children & apparent franchise fatigue on behalf of the movie going public. On the Toys R Us front, I sense both that there is a dogged resilience out there in terms of consumer demand which suggests that Toys R Us can at most only have a short term effect on the toy industry one way or the other and that there is plenty of life in Toys R Us yet, despite the headline seeking clickbait articles which seem to dominate the online ‘noise’ suggesting otherwise. (Watch out for my next article on the potential path forward to success for Toys R Us).

So, that’s 2018 toyfair season done and dusted in terms of the big three – Hong Kong, Nuremberg and New York (plus the UK for some of us!), while there are still some regional shows left on the circuit, many of us can now look forward to the relative tranquility & peace of returning to the office to (hopefully) scoop up all those toyfair promises into real business!

by Steve Reece, CEO of Kids Brand Insight www.KidsBrandInsight.com, we provide Toy business consultancy services to toy companies around the world. Our areas of expertise include strategy & brand building, Sourcing/factory finding and product representation.