It’s 2015 — Let the Fairs Begin


World Toy Fairs

Happy New Year, everyone! And apologies for the lateness of my greetings.  But the Toys & Games office is only just now getting back up to speed after a longer than expected holiday.

What started out as a few planned days away to enjoy time with friends and family, turned into almost two weeks of coping first with a nasty flu and then later with an aging office computer system that decided Christmas was a good time to die.

However, the bug is behind us and a new system’s up and humming. Of course, the behind-the-scenes wrinkles did not affect the Toys & Games website, which continued to attract viewers — both consumers and industry visitors — from across North America and more than 130 countries.

At this time of the year, many of readers who come to T & G — certainly those with industry interests — are looking for information on the multitude of toy shows, fairs and exhibitions taking place around the world.

January and February are especially busy months for buyers with the giant Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair kicking off the international trade show calendar on January 12 to 15. Britain follows with its comparatively small, but still top-notch The Toy Fair on January 20 to 22. And launching in Nürnberg on January 28, the juggernaut of them all, Spielwarenmesse’s German International Toy Fair, runs until February 2. As the world’s biggest toy trade show, this annual event features an astounding million-plus products — a visit should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Closer to home
Canadian toy industry members have a number of buying and selling opportunities — perhaps more than ever before — that are well worth checking out over the next few months. When the venerable Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair was axed earlier this year, like many I worried that our retailers’ resources — especially those with less than deep pockets — would be limited. However, I’m happy to report that’s not the case at all.

This season, for those in the market for early-age toys in traditional categories, there’s the Toronto Kid Show, which runs from January 17 to 19 at the Radisson Suite Hotel on Toronto’s Pearson Airport strip. Dedicated primarily to lifestyle products geared for moms and tots, most of the vendors are names from the babyware industry, such as Chotobaby and Echo Bambino. However, several well-known toy suppliers, such as Brands in Balance, Fire the Imagination, Unicorn Toys, Z Man Games (Filosofia) and Stortz Toys, will also be on hand with appropriate lines.

Just five days later, CanGift’s Toronto Spring Gift Fair opens on January 25 at the International Centre. Many former Toy & Hobby Fair exhibitors have moved over to this hugely popular show, which runs until January 29. Featuring over 900 vendors, retailers will find everything from babyware and educational games to plush and souvenirs. (Montreal and Edmonton venues follow later in Q2.)

In mid February, the 112th American International Toy Fair kicks off in New York City — this is our closest international-calibre show. The New York Fair, which runs four days (February 14 to 17), hosts 1,200 exhibitors showing a wide range of baby, kids and youth products. (Cutting-edge electronics and digital-based playthings to traditional crafts and developmental learning toys for preschoolers.) This year, that roster of vendors includes a contingent of 60 Canadian companies. While most are established names, others are newcomers — but all will be introducing new, unique and, in many cases, exclusive products that you won’t see elsewhere. (In the weeks leading up to NYC, Toys & Games will be bringing you info on some of their exciting introductions.)

And don’t forget, in conjunction with the American Toy Industry Association, which organizes the annual NYC Fair, the Canadian Toy Association has implemented a number of services and aids to assist Canadian retailers who make the trek.

If a trip to NYC isn’t in the books, you might want to check out a new Ontario-based toy show, Toys and Games Central Fair (TaG Central), opening March 8 to 10. In early December 2014, Toys & Games published information about this brand-new venue targeting Canada’s English-speaking specialty market crowd.

Patterned on the successful Drummondville, QC show, which has taken place for many years in mid March, the new Ontario venue will host over 30 exhibitors — again, names most of you will recognize.

News of the working-style event got great response from readers, with the Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada recently coming out in support of the show. The membership organization of specialty retailers and suppliers intends to tie one of its most important annual business dates to TaG Central.

See you at the fairs
Without a doubt, Canada’s toy industry is facing a changing landscape with 2014′s twists-and-turns just the first blips in the road ahead. And while our annual place of congregation and most visible symbol of our industry — the Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair — is a thing of the past, it doesn’t mean Canadians are without opportunities to meet, greet and promote business as always. See you at the fairs.

Lynn Winston has been the editor of both print and online versions of Toys & Games Magazine since 1991. To contact her directly, please click here.
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