So, I went to Toy Fair last weekend. Not sure what Toy Fair is? Well, that means you’ve clearly never read this post in my archives. Yes, though it’s an industry-only event, this was actually my second trip to the trade show. The New York Toy Fair happens every February at the Javits Center, and it gives buyers a chance to see the hot toys slated to come out for the holiday season.
How did I get there? Funny you should ask. You see, my good friend, Keith, works for a well known comic publisher. Said publisher recently announced they were launching a toy line, so it was only natural that they go to Toy Fair. Well, the announcement was a bit premature, as they really didn’t have anything to show for themselves. Still, a pass to the show had already been procured. Keith really couldn’t care less about Toy Fair, but he knew that I felt the exact opposite. I LOVE Toy Fair, almost as much as I love getting into stuff not open to the general public. So, it was then decided that I would become Keith. Yes, I would skin him and wear his pelt around the convention floor. No, it wasn’t that deep, but I would be assuming his identity for the day. There was one catch, however – they would be checking photo IDs when giving out badges. Keith is tall, slim and white. I am none of those things. So, how would I get in? That’s when we devised an Oceans 11 type plan. I don’t wanna help expose the holes in Toy Fair security, so I’m not going to go into detail. Let’s just fast forward and say that I arrived at the show Sunday afternoon.
After getting “my” badge, I texted my Twitter pal Matt Guzy (@mattguzy) who was already on the show floor. He came out, and I finally got to meet him after all these years! We walked around the floor, as he explained the ins and outs of Toy Fair from the press perspective. He’s formed relationships with industry public relations folks, so he knows how to get into all the cool parties. I could learn a lot from him!
After walking around for about an hour, we ran into my Twitter pal Nik (@T16skyhopp) who, along with Sprocket (@Tekcorps), happened to be doing press for Online Action Figure Entertainment (@OAFE). I also got a chance to meet my Twitter pal Jon (@preternia_). Matt had to run off to an appointment, so I hung out with these guys on the convention floor. Sprocket showed us a bunch of pics from that morning’s LEGO showcase, as well as some pics of the Hasbro Preview from the night before. We walked around to booths for 3A, NECA, Diamond Select and more. They were all heading to the Mattel presentation, but I didn’t want to risk it seeing as how I wasn’t exactly who my nametag said I was. In fact, I was being introduced as “Keith” to most folks, but Nik somehow recognized me just by walking by. And Sprocket told me he reads West Week Ever, so that made me feel awesome. At that point, I pretty much abandoned the Keith facade.
After the other guys left for the Mattel presentation, I walked around on my own. You ever want to experience true discrimination? Walk the floor not wearing a Buyer badge. Exhibitors will bend over backwards for buyers, as those are potential customers, but they’ll pull down the blinds on ya if your badge is not of the buyer ilk. You’ll see a smiling spokesmodel handing out something, and as you get closer, you’ll notice her glance at your badge. Once she sees “exhibitor”, she assumes you’re just like her, so her smile changes into a dismissive look, and she scans the crowd for the nearest Buyer badge to engage. I’m not sure if it’s the same thing for those with press badges. I’d assume the exhibitors would be more friendly to them, as they need them to get the word out about their product, but I could be wrong.
I could post a bunch of pics of Guardians of the Galaxy or Ninja Turtles toys, but there are already sites dedicated to that. I like to show the side of Toy Fair that folks don’t generally know about. It’s a huge venue, and there’s everything from action figures to airport gift shop toys. Tons of websites are devoted to the former, but they rarely think about the latter. So, you’re not going to see any top secret reveals here, but you just may see a 12 foot Batman!
So, after all of these pics, I’ll bet you think Toy Fair’s pretty exciting, right? Well, it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong – it was cool to meet some web pals, and it was cool to be in an event that was kinda seekrit, but there’s no real excitement to be had. I was just talking to Matt, telling him that I was having trouble wrapping up this post because it doesn’t really seem very exciting. He pointed out that it’s probably because Toy Fair isn’t very exciting. Sure, it’s probably nice for buyers and exhibitors, but there’s a reason it’s industry-only. Beside the chance to see some stuff before the general public, there’s not much more to it. You can’t buy anything. There aren’t any crazy kinds of sweepstakes. Most of the big reveals are spoiled online before the show. And besides walking by Jordan Hembrough, and passing Grumpy Cat, there aren’t really any celebrities. At the end of the day, it’s just a trade show like any other, only it happens to pertain to the toy industry. So, did I have fun? Sure, it was a nice way to spend a Sunday. Will I go back? If given the chance, I sure would. Maybe that seems contradictory to my stance, but I’m a sucker for bragging rights. Anyway, for actual Toy Fair coverage, be sure to check out Awesome Toy Blog, OAFE, and Preternia.