In less than two months, nearly 30,000 global toy and play professionals will descend on New York City to scope out the newest and hottest toys, games, and youth entertainment products hitting the market in 2019 at Toy Fair New York. Here’s why you should make the trip abroad.
As the place to spot cutting-edge trends in toys and games, the marketplace is a known hotbed for lucrative dealmaking and an excellent opportunity for toy companies and talented entrepreneurs looking to get a foothold in the $27 billion U.S. toy market, while providing buyers with a first look at thousands of products including new inventions from first-time exhibitors featured in the show’s Launch Pad section, new lines from veteran brands that have been showing unique and creative products at Toy Fair for decades, and everything in between.
The breadth of products seen at Toy Fair has led to significant growth in our international audience. Last year, Toy Fair drew notable increases in attendees from 95 different countries, including international trade guests (up 26 percent year-over-year), as well as large delegations of attendees from outside the U.S., including 3,802 international visitors, of which 1,589 were global buyers. We expect to surpass these numbers for the 2019 show.
But product scoping and deal-making aren’t the only reasons toy professionals come to the show. Toy Fair’s educational seminars under the “Knowledge Network” programming cover relevant topics including the future of play, youth trends, licensing, independent retailing, safety compliance, entrepreneurship, and much more. The seminars (with the exception of global market expansion sessions) are free and open to all Toy Fair registrants.
Toys are the second largest licensed merchandise category behind apparel, representing 13.3 percent of the $271.6 billion global licensing business in 2017, according to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association’s (LIMA). And with licensed playthings representing nearly 30 percent of all toy sales in the U.S., show organizers have dedicated an entire track of educational programming just for the licensing industry, taking place throughout the show, covering topics including licensing fundamentals, how to negotiate a deal, global licensing trends, and more.
This year, I am excited to say that we are expanding the Creative Factor educational series thanks to a new advisory board – Brett Klisch (creative director at Peru Meridian Studios and co-founder of Creative Factor), Robin Raskin (founder of Living in Digital Times), Billy Langsworthy (co-founder of UK’s own Mojo Nation), Matt Nuccio (owner of Design Edge), and Warren Tuttle (president of the United Inventors Association) – whose input has raised the bar on this invigorating educational series for inventors and designers.
Creative Factor seminars will feature demonstrations and content presented by experts who will share actionable tips on topics such as how to build your brand’s narrative, how to protect your IP, how the integration of innovative technologies including artificial intelligence, robotics, AR, and VR is influencing the toy market, and much more.
Additionally, The Toy Association is launching an inaugural “CF@TF Inventor Day,” a unique opportunity where a select number of inventors will get to pitch to influential toy and youth entertainment professionals and manufacturing partners. CF@TF Inventor Day is being held Friday, February 15, the day before Toy Fair opens, at the Javits Center.
If this will be your first-time visiting Toy Fair, we have a number of resources meant to help you navigate the four-day show. The Toy Association has already hosted a free webinar to help buyers, particularly those coming to the show for the first time, prepare and maximize their time at Toy Fair. Anyone interested in listening to a recording may contact Jackie Retzer, manager of audience relations at The Toy Association, at JRetzer@toyassociation.org.
Looking to get ahead of the game? Visit ShopToys365.com, The Toy Association’s digital marketplace that allows toy companies to showcase their products in virtual showrooms and enables buyers to browse and source new playthings for their stores and securely place orders online.
Continuing to build on its success, ShopToys365 has introduced two new companion apps to make the Toy Fair experience even more productive. Leads365 a mobile app where users can sync images of business cards and pictures of badges or scan codes with information already in the system and retrieve and message those leads on the platform instantly. Orders365 allows suppliers to place orders from anywhere, including their exhibit at Toy Fair via a mobile app. And given that platform buyers and sellers hail from more than 125 countries, ShopToys365.com is also launching in multiple languages including Mandarin, German, French, and Spanish.
In addition, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Toy Fair’s vast presence on social media, given it is the preferred form of communication for many toy professionals, especially the industry’s younger generation. It is a fantastic way to keep tabs on all there is to see and do at Toy Fair, including engaging activations, product demonstrations from the show floor, and important announcements. And, for the first time ever, Toy Fair will be partnering with a number of exhibiting companies to feature their buzzworthy brands and products on our social media channels offering you further opportunity to “be in the know” first. For up-to-the-minute happenings at the show, be sure to follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/TheToyAssociation); on Instagram (toyfair_ny); and on Twitter (@toyfairny).
Toymakers put their heart and soul into creating playthings for children to enjoy and love and walking the show floor (as I love to do), it is truly incredible to see the industry’s collective passion for making toys and games that will delight children of all ages and interests. Join me at this year’s Toy Fair New York. You won’t be disappointed.
Marian Bossard is Executive Vice President of global market events at The Toy Association. The 116th North American International Toy Fair will take place Saturday, February 16 to Tuesday, February 19 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Visit www.toyfairny.com or download the free Toy Fair Mobile App (available in the Apple Store and Google Play) to learn more.