Last week, over 106,000 visitors passed through the doors of the Hong Kong Convention Centre where the 40th Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair and its three smaller “sister” shows took place.
That figure represents a five percent jump over 2013 attendance, says Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the long-time organizer of the four exhibitions. While buyers from emerging markets like the Middle East showed the largest increase, Canada – considered a mature market – also sent a bigger contingent of visitors this year.
The 2014 venue, which included Toy Fair, the International Stationery Fair, the Baby Products Fair, and the International Licensing Show, also broke records in terms of number of exhibitors. A total of almost 2,900 vendors were featured, with 2,000 of those coming from 39 countries to exhibit under the Toy Fair banner.
As the world’s second largest toy event and the first to take place in the business year, the HK Fair is considered the bellwether of the global industry – tapping into defining attitudes and coming trends.
As usual, international and domestic buyers came to get an early peek at everything new in all the traditional categories, as well as the latest advances in kid-appropriate technology.
Traditional Merges with Tech
And as expected, those toys that merged the two — traditional formats with technology — were some of the most popular with buyers. Toys falling into this burgeoning segment were highlighted in a new zone aptly named Smart-Tech Toys.
The zone presented products that offered established play patterns, while incorporating the use of smart devices and apps for children, tweens and teens. Vendors featuring “next-generation” items like augmented-reality story books and soft toys with hand-held games had visitors lined up. Roam & Wander Ltd.’s TuTu, a rabbit powered by an iPhone app, even took home a Best of the Fair (Electronic & Remote Control category) award, one of the event’s most prestigious honours. (Check out the HKTDC video for a look at other smart-tech products.)
Kidult World, a new zone launched to great response at the 2013 HK Fair, was also back with more than 80 exhibitors displaying playthings – including smart-tech gadgets — designed for grown-ups. Higher-end and more complex hobby goods, magic items, model vehicles, mechanical toys and collectible action figures will also be finding their way into the hands of adult consumers around the world, later this year.
But the 2014 HK Toy Fair wasn’t all about smart electronics. Other themed zones, such as Candy Toys, Educational Toys, Festive & Party Items, Outdoor & Sporting products, and Soft Toys & Dolls, were still pulling in the usual crowds of enthusiastic buyers.