Why New Evergreen Classic Toys Will Come From The Pandemic

When you take a historical view of troubling times in relatively modern history, the toy & games business has usually traded through with some degree of success and certainly without existential threat to the industry. The reasons for this are well known and we have recently written on this at length, but in summary this durability of our business is due to children still needing stimulation and play, and parents wanting to still look after their children’s emotional and developmental needs. In tough times, these underlying drivers actually get stronger in many ways.

This is one of the reasons why classic toy and games brands survive, or even thrive in difficult times.

But the other angle to look at this from is the likelihood of new perennial classic toy brands being formed out of this horrible situation. People tend to have an emotional bond with their favourite toys from childhood, it’s such a formative period of our lives and so both in terms of practical impact at the time and in terms of rosy nostalgic memories people tend to think very positively of the toys they played with.

What happens when times are tough is that people’s emotions run higher as we all deal with a new type of challenges from medical to economic through to managing tough emotions and even balancing mental health under circumstances most of us have never experienced. Therefore the emotional imprint of this experience is much deeper, which means that the things that help us get through these times will touch us more deeply and create a far stronger bond.

For everyone this is a difficult time, but for children in particular it can be very difficult to understand what is happening, and for them to be carrying a lot of fear with them right now. Toys can help children to feel more secure and imaginative play can help them to express and develop their feelings and find ways to manage. Board games can help them spend quality time with their parents in a fun way without the boredom which can come for many children from being made to follow strict educational curriculum.

The upshot of all of this is that new brands which manage to successfully establish themselves in the marketplace and the minds of people could find themselves becoming massive hits over a very long time. And here’s the best example of how this effect can work – aside from world wars, arguably the toughest period of time for most people in the ‘West’ in the last 100 years would be The Great Depression of the 1920s and into the 1930s. As people struggled to find work and food, the disruption to normal life was comparable in impact to what is happening today, albeit it lasted for a lot longer than the current crisis will hopefully. Out of this period of time came the king of board games – Monopoly. The bonds formed by people going through tough times playing Monopoly, arguing and negotiating away with their family and friends and eventually winning the game (if they could get to the end!) has lead to the massive long term success of the game and brand.

So, while all indications around us are that we should be fearful as businesses and slash the red pen through everything, furlough or fire our staff and slash all new product development and batten down the hatches for a crisis, the reality is that while some of this will sadly be necessary it needs to be balanced with the massive opportunity driven by the stronger than usual needs of humankind for comfort, fun and support. There is no doubt that some companies and some brands will come through this crisis as winners, and new classic toys and games will become firmly fixed alongside the likes of Monopoly, Barbie, Rubiks Cube and others.

 

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Why The Board Games Category Is Booming During Pandemic Lockdown

 BOARD GAMES CATEGORY ANALYSIS:

One of the most notable and most positive of the difficult circumstances humankind is in right now is the surge in board games sales across the world. As families hunker down to get through the lockdown they have clearly been looking for productive ways to pass the time and to have fun together.

For sure, on demand video consumption has soared as inevitably both kids and parents binge on watching video content while stuck at home. But they have also been buying and presumably playing more board games.

Playing board games delivers so many positive benefits. They teach children to take turns, count, think, negotiate, compete and communicate. They also help adults interact with other people by stimulating and facilitating a higher level of personal interpersonal interaction, think of that classic awkward social situation or low energy family gathering or dinner party, and how much more fun everyone has in each other’s company around a game.

Coming out of the pandemic this should be one major positive – that people have re-connected with their family over their favourite games in a way they wouldn’t always take time to do. While the current significantly upweighted demand for board games will be likely to decline somewhat as people gradually are allowed to travel more and spend less time at home, game playing is a habitual thing, and once that habit is re-ignited it will remain for some families, and once they can get out and socialise again should spread between social groups in a much more palatable and less damaging ‘viral’ effect leading to consistent sales growth not just in the short term, but should have a positive ongoing effect medium to long term also.

While the covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown have made most of humankind focus on a different level of concern over life and needs, that needn’t be entirely negative long term. For the board games category, the upsurge in demand is good for society as a whole in two ways (at least): firstly, it protects a lot of jobs around the world, both for companies who sell only board games, but also gives some security and balance to those toy companies who have seen sales decline in other categories, and of course it supports countless jobs taking a broader view across manufacturing around the world, shipping, logistics, testing, product development and more.

On a social level, if humankind comes out of this crisis more grounded in their families, in their communication with other people and in their  ‘playing the game’ of life with a redefined sense of priority, that might in the end be a positive effect, and a silver lining coming from a tragic and damaging situation.

We run a Joint Venture creating, developing producing board games for people who need games made quickly to met urgent demands. Our team features all ex-Hasbro professional board game developers. Demand is ongoing as board game companies seek to bring new games to market. For more information, or to book our board game development services: www.gamecreationaccelerator.com

8 Reasons Why The Global Toy Industry Will Recover From The Pandemic

At the time of writing we’re seeing an economic slowdown like we haven’t seen in our lifetimes, and this is going to have significant implications far beyond just the global toy industry.

With large sections of retail shut down in many major markets, this is definitely not business as usual, and it is sadly likely that when we finally emerge from the medical emergency we find ourselves in we will find ourselves facing a large degree of economic damage.

While the toy business has proved over and over again that it is relatively cushioned from economic downturns and hard times, things might be a bit different this time because we will inevitably lose some retailers and also a number of toy companies of long standing and good reputation are likely to fail during this horrendous period.

All of that said though, whereas there are some people out there wondering if their chosen career is basically over for the foreseeable future unless they retrain and upskill, the longer term outlook for the global toy business remains positive for a number of reasons, and that should give many of us hope and faith. Here’s a number of reasons to feel reassured about the prospects for the toy market after the pandemic clears:

The Need For Play has not diminished – there are a myriad of play occasions and motivations. Children learn through play. They develop through play. And they play to have fun. This has not changed, and it won’t. If anything right now kids are playing a lot more than normal due to not being in school. Of course parents are constantly fighting screen time addiction, but either way kids do want to play, and if they consume content, some of that content creates interest in characters which normally leads to toy sales.

Parents still want the best for their kids – parents haven’t stopped wanting to be good parents, and haven’t stopped being concerned about their child’s development and fulfilment. In fact, all those categories of toys which are parent prompted primarily i.e. board games, puzzles, art & craft kits, science kits and such items are all flying out of retail despite lockdown as parents both positively seek to educate and gainfully occupy their kids as well as negatively in some cases are just seeking a bit of respite or peace and quiet!

Parents still get pestered by their kids for cool stuff – children do tend to sense when things are difficult for parents, but that won’t necessarily stop them asking for stuff they really want. And in some ways, parents are more likely to indulge their kids during tough times because they don’t want their children to be unhappy. As we come out of the current situation though, kids will feel less and less guilt about pestering for the stuff they want – and maybe they will be ‘into’ 3 or 4 new brands since they have been consuming so much content while not attending school.

The playground effect will return – this is one of the most powerful drivers of toy sales and toy consumption, and has been for a very long time. Kids love to show off the latest cool new stuff they are playing with and small items like collectable toys sit in their pockets, bags and pencil cases just waiting for the chance to come and play with friends at break time. Children are also (very thankfully) seemingly less likely to suffer from serious health issues related to COVID-19, so hopefully can go back to school sooner rather than later both for their sakes and for their parents!

Movies will return – lockdown has lead to a massive acceleration of growth trends for video on demand consumption from adults and kids as they seek to utilise the most accessible home entertainment in the current situation. But the typical movie release model will return for a number of reasons. Bigger companies in good financial shape have financial resources and balance sheets to call upon in times of crisis, of course they will seek all outside help they can from governments, employees and customers, but in the end they can usually access the necessary funds to get through even a long crisis. Therefore those mighty movie making behemoths will come through this less profitable in the short term but largely ready to go when things pick up again. Which means the entire model including big budget production with A list stars and the resulting marketing onslaught will return. The only thing is we may get a bit of a lag as nothing much is getting produced right now in most locations, but after the lag, the classic movie model will return. Some cinema chains may change hands, the physical cinemas might end up being operated by a different entity, but they haven’t disappeared, cinemas are great for one thing alone – showing movies, so someone will operate them somehow. Movies are a perennial driver of toy sales and this pivotal part of the toy business will return, while in the meantime on demand viewing will have broadened and deepened brand and character affinity.

Retail will evolve – retail is always a tough business to be in, but now things are worse than ever. Some retail businesses will not make it through this time, but many others will and they will be stronger due to having to work hard at diversifying their operating models. Either way though where there is consumer demand there will be retail of some sort, in some format and consumer demand will return mid term, if not before.

Global population is growing – the global population is growing fairly rapidly, which means there are more people to buy everything. In some countries the birth rate is not growing or is even diminishing slightly. Some analysis suggests that the population growth is at least partly due to people living longer, but don’t forget grandparents are a major secondary purchaser of toys after parents, so if we have more grandparents around for longer even if we don’t end up with many more kids we should still see sales increases.

Asian economies are set for major growth over the mid to long term – at the time of writing there are 2 potentially massive growth markets for toy sales. Firstly China, which is now the world’s 2nd biggest toy market after the U.S.A. is going to grow massively – because of China’s huge economic progress, people in China will be far more affluent over the next few decades than ever before in history, and as a result toy sales will soar. Secondly, India is also seeing significant economic growth which is set to continue throughout this century, and with nearly the same number of people as China, and with a culture which cherishes children we expect to see considerable growth in the Indian toy market over the mid to long term albeit from a small base.

So while we are all going through tough times, and need to fight our way through the current situation, and will then need to fight our way to recovery, as the song says ‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow’!

PS For toy and game companies looking to grow their businesses, we offer an ‘all-in’ Consultancy package. The Toy Co Growth Booster is open to a maximum of 3 clients at any time, and offers both strategic planning and commercial insights alongside practical help to grow your business and make it more profitable, even during these tough times. For more info: http://www.kidsbrandinsight.com/blog/toy-co-growth-booster-program/

Toy Biz: Post Pandemic – Permanent Vs Temporary Changes

Many countries are now heading into extensions of lockdown right now. It’s almost beginning to feel like normality, albeit a normality we don’t want. Thoughts are again with those suffering from this horrendous virus and those directly in the front line fighting it.

We’re now starting to see a lot of speculation about what can end the current situation, and then what kind of world are we going to emerge into afterwards.

We’ll leave the first question to the medical experts, but for the second question, there have clearly been some massive changes. The question though is which changes will be permanent and which will pass leading back to how things were before in some instances. Here are our thoughts on which changes are likely to be permanent and which are likely to pass:

PERMANENT CHANGES

  1. Accelerated virtual lifestyles – we’re just over twenty years into the ‘Internet Revolution’, which in the future will be looked on as being as big a change in human society, culture, work and living as the Industrial Revolution. The lockdowns which have reached across the world have vastly accelerated what has already been happening for the last twenty years – a move towards virtual over physical living. Entertainment and social interactions have been moving online throughout the current millennium, but this trend has rapidly accelerated during the pandemic and while this may regress slightly, human beings are above all creatures of habit.
  2. Accelerated shift from physical retail to online – this shift has again been ongoing for two decades by this point. The change here though is not just about changing behaviour on the consumer side. The major issue with retail is that many retailers were struggling anyway, and a period of paying rents and costs (even if some costs are reduced) combined with diminished revenue will be more than enough to push some well known retailers into insolvency. Alas there is just no way we are emerging from this crisis with all existing retailers in tact and profitably trading. Some non-food retailers are going to go out of business. Just was we lost a raft of retail customers for toys through the global financial crisis of the late noughties, now the current hard times will also take their toll. Food retailers who sell non-food items i.e. Grocery/hypermarché will come through this stronger and with increased market share which is a relief in some ways but a challenge in others as they aren’t always the easiest or most profitable accounts to trade with. Overall then, when physical retailers disappear, online appears to take up more of the slack than surviving physical retailers, and so the trend to online shopping will irreversibly accelerate coming through this pandemic crisis.
  3. Growth in board game playing – some categories of the toy market are really struggling right now, and others are flying. We’re seeing creative play, arts and crafts and science kits selling extremely well for this time of year in some markets. This though is more driven by everyone being stuck at home and parents wanting to gainfully occupy their kids. The big impact longer term is likely to be in board game playing, as hordes of dormant game players rediscover how much fun board games are and how socially connecting they are versus screen time. Research studies we have conducted across our 20+ years in the business have always highlighted the importance of word of mouth or played at a friends house for driving board games sales, but the bottom line is actually one step back from this – board game playing begets more board game playing. We predict that the board games category will reap the rewards of the current pandemic lockdown for a long time to come.

TEMPORARY CHANGES

The global toy market may be down in 2020 or at least not grow as much as was expected, although this is hard to call because through tough times normally parents will go out of their way to treat and gift children to make up for the difficult times. It certainly won’t be plain sailing to meet demand however the final numbers come in. There are a number of issues caused by the pandemic though that will inevitably fade away once this pandemic clears either via fading away as happens with so many viruses or because a vaccine is developed.

  1. International travel – we foresee a return to near normality within 6 months of the end of the pandemic because business is so global in this age, and there isn’t any way to move back from that as the world is so easily accessible online today. Even if any struggling airlines don’t make it through this tough time, the planes will still belong to someone and the airports will still be there so someone somehow will meet the upsurge in travel demand that is likely to come.
  2. Disrupted supply chain – clearly China is now manufacturing again after being locked down, but at the time of writing some other countries with significant and ever growing toy manufacturing hubs are locked down including India. The long term shift away from China for a proportion of toy manufacturing is going to carry on regardles of the pandemic due to systemic and economic factors.
  3. Movies and toys – the toy business has historically been up or down for a particular year based on the movie slate and success of otherwise of the latest big movie releases. While media and content consumption is ever more fragmented, movies will come back in the way they always have with big global cinematic releases driving $billions of toy sales.

Aside from these predictions, we would also like to take this opportunity say thanks to all those on the frontline fighting this virus and to wish you all the best getting through this challenging period of time.

Our Consulting company – Kids Brand Insight works with toy companies of all sizes on a Consultancy basis. We recently launched a new ‘packaged’ up Consultancy service to help toy and game companies grow. While we appreciate some companies are just trying to get through this time, we have found increased demand as those companies who are still enjoying success through the pandemic have still been seeking our help. Our Toy Co Growth Booster program is open to all sizes of companies. For more information: http://www.kidsbrandinsight.com/blog/toy-co-growth-booster-program/

Kids Brand Insight Announces Toy Co Growth Booster Program

Kids Brand Insight, our sister company have just announced a new Consultancy service package to assist toy and games companies around the world.

The Toy Co Growth Booster Program continues the work of Kids Brand Insight for nearly a decade, during which the company has helped more than 100 toy & game companies grow around the world.

The Consultancy service offers both a strategic element and a practical hands on executional element making sales introductions to key distributors around the world.

For more information, just click here:

 

Many Acquisitions Ahead In The Toy & Games Market

As the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns roll on, we are starting to see a number of acquisitions in the market place, especially right now in the U.S.A with a number of high profile transactions taking place – for example:

Of course it is normal to see a round of company acquisitions after the trade show season as toy company owners meet colleagues from around the world at multiple points. Any business owner looking to sell out is likely to start conversations with potential purchasers around the toy trade shows from October through to February.

Right now though due to the unusual circumstances of the time, the usual round of company ownership changes is likely to be exacerbated and enhanced. The reason being that we are starting to see business across the board switch from positive and aggressive to conservative and self preservation mode. This leads to people not paying their bills when due, which in turn leads to cashflow problems for some companies.

Times like these can cause even highly viable and well established companies to run out of financial resources to weather such complete disruption. Therefore quite a few long established companies with well known brands and products and with significant longevity in the marketplace will seek to sell up in order to cash out and take what they can. Some won’t manage to get a transaction done in time and may go out of business, leading to their assets being sold to other toy companies.

Also, we need to consider that cashflow problems can roll on for some time in an industry with such a long sales cycle, and that typically the toughest time in a toy or games company cashflow cycle is towards the back end of the year. By this point the company has bankrolled the development, manufacturing and marketing of products shipping for Fall, along with having cashflowed overhead throughout the year until that point. That is of course in normal circumstances, and these are anything but normal circumstances right now. For some companies the outlook for the rest of the year looks good with record shipments of some types of toys and especially of games, puzzles and other toys to entertain and educate kids who are locked down at home. For others things are alas more uncertain.

Either way, there will be company owners looking to or needing to sell up and move on with at least some degree of cash for all their years of hard work, and so we predict that toy company acquisitions are going to accelerate throughout the rest of this year as those companies with big cash reserves and with significant support from investors find themselves overwhelmed with the chance to buy up good companies struggling to find a way through these uncharted waters.

Platitudes abound currently, especially those about determination and fighting through tough times, but they can really help people who are struggling, so we’d like to end with a few of our favourites:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going!” Winston Churchill

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” Robert H. Schuller

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” Billy Ocean ?!

P.S. Our team have advised numerous toy companies and investment companies seeking either to buy or sell companies in the toy business. If you’re looking to buy or sell, please feel free to get in touch via our Toy Business Consultancy website and we’ll be happy to discuss our Consultancy services with you: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

5 Tips For Toy & Game Companies To Manage Through The Covid-19 Pandemic

These are tough times for people across the world as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the global economy and threatens health and happiness regardless of national, religious or ethnic boundaries. The toy and game business is not immune to the current situation either.

While there are clearly some opportunities during these tough times to supply toys and games to families who are looking for ways to entertain and occupy their kids while stuck at home, there are also a number of threats and challenges to our business. Not least of which is the impact on physical retail. The current situation is likely to accelerate the movement to online retail, which has both good and bad implications for toy and games companies. Supply chains are also at risk of disruption for the next few months at least, and so this situation need to be carefully managed.

To try to help toy and games companies get through this period of time in tact and to be ready to go again when the world returns to normal we came up with the following list of tips and tactics:

  1. CASH IS KING – those businesses and business people who went through the global financial crisis just over a decade ago should have this glib but critically important statement clearly at the forefront. Because when time’s get tough some businesses fail and don’t pay their bills, and those who don’t fail are probably not paying their bills as quickly as they do in normal circumstances. We’re not suggesting massive cutbacks to preserve cash, but toy and games companies should definitely review their expenditure and credit control during this time to maintain cash as much as is feasibly possible.
  2. OPPORTUNITY ABOUNDS – there are countless toy and game companies that actually made great strides through the global financial crisis. Survival of the fittest applies during these times, but if you are one of the fittest you should be able to ride this out and end up stronger. In particular though, with large amounts of families housebound there has been and should continue to be an upsurge in demand for our products at this time. For sure we can and should be supplying free online materials for families to help them through this time, but we also have a moral imperative to ensure our businesses do well to preserve jobs and employment to reduce economic damage coming out of this horrendous pandemic! There should be no question of under selling or giving away the shop, the world needs what we do, and the more of us who are still in business throughout this time and when the pandemic is finally over the better that is for the world. JFK was quoted as stating that the Chinese characters for ‘Crisis’ contains two parts – one meaning danger and one meaning opportunity. The reality is that while the toy and game business is going to see change and disruption, there is significant demand right now, so we need to adapt to the current reality to take advantage of the opportunity and come through this stronger.
  3. MANAGING SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTION – 2020 has already seen significant supply chain disruption with large parts of China effectively locked down and delays in factories getting back up and running in China. Now other manufacturing hubs are seeing lockdowns and delays. Our understanding from reading and listening to various medical health and virological experts is that after an initial lockdown period of a few months, things are likely to go back to a new normal of people being free to work and go out again, but with a few more restrictions than they may be used to. At that point we may get some resurgences from the virus up and until we see a mass produced vaccine which works deployed across the globe. Therefore, we expect some continued supply chain disruption, and recommend that diversifying supply chain across multiple geographies is a good thing for both the remainder of the Covid-19 pandemic and afterwards – if you can’t make ’em you can’t sell ’em!
  4. LOOK AFTER YOUR STAFF – this is a point which should not really need to be made, but your staff need your support right now. We’re all going through quite a traumatic experience, and people handle that in different ways. This is not the time to make panicky cuts in staff levels, this is the time to double down and support and nurture your teams through this crisis, so that at the other end of this what makes you strongest – i.e. your people – will continue to make you stronger post Covid-19. Working from home works better for some people than others. Some of your people are going to struggle with the isolation of being locked down, regular team calls are good for getting work tasks focused on and addressed, but also good to keep people sane in these unprecedented circumstances.
  5. LOOK AFTER YOUR CUSTOMERS – not all of your customers will make it through this troubling period of time. More of them will with your support though. Maybe a multi-buy or discount will help those struggling with the loss of physical retail sales, maybe just acting like you care will help. Perhaps your online marketing team can be spared to put some work and support into helping them set up or enhance web stores and/or local marketing campaigns.

At this point we don’t know how long the Covid-19 pandemic will go on for. What we do know is that there seems to be a huge degree of certainty that a vaccine will be found and that effective treatments are not far away. In the short term we have a medical disaster on our hands in some localities, but this too will pass. For toy and game companies we need to survive this testing period of time in terms of our own health and well being, but also as businesses.

This article is written for and published by Kids Brand Insight. For more information on Kids Brand Insight and what we do: www.KidsBrandInsight.com

We have run Consultancy and Coaching projects for dozens and dozens of toy and game companies, and are actively and continuously helping companies get through the current difficult times.

Toy Sourcing – The Next 10 Years: Why Nearly Everything We Know Is Going To Change And What To Do About It

We recently ran a Webinar for a select few of our clients looking at trends in toy sourcing and some massive changes which are ongoing, and perhaps further advanced than many toy companies have recognised.

The world of toy manufacturing is changing primarily due to the successful economic development of China. Because toy manufacturing tends to depend on labour intensive production lines, China’s economy has developed beyond the point where such work is sustainable with the same competitive advantages as China enjoyed when labour costs were significantly lower. We believe this is something China should be applauded for as they have significantly raised the standard of living of their population. This does though have major implications for the toy industry as we have become so reliant as an industry on toy manufacturing in China.

The video below is the Webinar we recorded on the topic. Please note this video was recorded by and on behalf of Kids Brand Insight, our Consultancy business: http://www.KidsBrandInsight.com

Toy & Games Industry Outlook 2020: Impact of Covid-19

We recently published a LinkedIn article looking at the effects of Covid-19 in the short and medium term on the global toy & games business.

We review what the likely implications are and also look at why there is light at the end of the tunnel for both the toy sector and the human species as a whole.

To read the article, just click here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/toy-games-industry-outlook-2020-impact-covid-19-steve-reece/?trackingId=G0ak7FlITFmg%2BMFGwB70iQ%3D%3D

Watch this space for an upcoming series of articles looking at practical steps the toy industry can take to get through this tough time with businesses and people in tact.

For more on how we can help toy companies, here is our toy & game industry Consultancy business: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

New York Toy Fair 2020 – Review

As the curtain sets on another New York toy fair, and as those exhausted souls who have been mostly on the road attending toy trade shows so far in 2020 head off for some well earned rest, there are a number of clear conclusions to be made about the toy industry in general and about the New York Toy Fair itself.

Firstly, as ever, this show remains the best place to access the lucrative North American toy fair. The show is always a great mix of pizzazz, product presentation and inter personal meeting, this year lived up to the high standards set in recent years. The great and the good of the North American toy scene were in attendance as per usual and the selection of new toy products on display was epic!

The ‘C’ word (in this case meaning the coronavirus) was still a topic of conversation, and there is no doubt that there were very few Chinese visitors in attendance in New York. Since the show ended the virus has surfaced in a number of other countries round the world. Whether we see the virus as a serious global health risk or not the reality is that this pesky virus HAS affected supply chain for the toy business and other industries. There is a genuine risk of global recession as airlines cancel flights, stores are at risk of running out of stock and stock markets have tumbled. If you take a month of economic activity out of the global economy, then you inevitably risk ending up with a recessionary environment. We’re all hoping this thing clears quickly and we can all get back to work sharpish! At least in the toy business we have a business which is over balanced towards the last 3 months of the year, so we have a good opportunity ahead to chase sales, unlike some other industries/categories.

We sat in on a fascinating presentation lat New York Toy Fair lead by the team at ICTI looking at alternative sourcing locations outside of China. While there has been a trend brewing for a few years for outside of China toy sourcing, this trend looks likely to accelerate based on this panel discussion, as people question the prudence of a complete reliance on one country as the source of nearly all their products. Going forward, we expect China’s ‘OEM’ business i.e. contract manufacturing product for other companies to reduce, but the business for self developed products and brands from China to grow significantly. Seems like it is time for China’s toy manufacturing sector to take a step up the value chain, and in doing so to elevate their economy and living standards for their people, which should be applauded. It does though mean that the classic low labour cost production model in China is heading towards the beginning of the end, and prudent toy companies are already looking elsewhere. It’s likely to be a bumpy road, because China’s toy manufacturing sector has become so reliable, so efficient and so integral to the global toy business.

One other clear trend in New York was the environmental theme. This was such a prominent theme at the Nuremberg toy fair this year, but the question was whether this mighty and much revered land of gas guzzling vehicles and mass consumption would pay similar attention to this topic. New York toy fair 2020 was the time and the place where it became apparent that there is a truly global acceptance of the need for a move away from so much plastic consumption, with major announcements and initiatives from many exhibitors.

Finally, on the last day of the show, we sneaked away early to go for a guided tour of the United Nations building in New York. In the forums of this building and institution humankind has managed to avoid the senseless mass scale conflict which dominated the 1st half of the 20th century. We finished our 2020 toy fair season by reflecting on meeting people from all around the world at these toy shows including people from China, the USA, Russia, the Middle East, Europe, South America and anywhere else in the world. The world order may be changing, and there may be a lot of division out there in a political and social sense, but above all we humans remain truly inter connected. The corona virus is not just China’s problem and the planet and environment are shared by all of us. China is not leaving the toy business, just redefining roles, heading towards a move from engine room to top of deck.

What makes us different does not mean we can’t get along. Toy fair season is the ultimate proof of how inter connected humankind is, and in the end, we win together or lose together – so here’s wishing for peace and prosperity – toy fair season 2020, over and out!