For the past several years I’ve been attending the TAGIE Awards (The Toy & Game Inventor Awards). Held during CHITAG, the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, I’ve watched the event grow tremendously. This year’s event, held at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, was completely sold out. It was hosted by Tim Walsh (inventor of Tribond and Blurt and now filmmaker for the movie Toyland) who has a great comedic style. Hasbro inventor relations’ main man, Mike Hirtle, gave the keynote address. For me, there were two highlights during the evening. The first was the lifetime achievement award presented to Eddie Goldfarb. He has created more popular toys than can be named here. However, some of his highlights include Yakity Yak Chattering Teeth, Ker Plunk, and Battling Tops. The second highlight was watching Kate Daniels win the Young Inventor Award. It was presented by Seth Calvin, the 2009 winner, and John Ratzenberger (of Cheers and Toy Story fame. He’s the voice of Hamm the piggy bank). I also enjoyed the open bar. . . perhaps a little too much.
When I was coming up in the toy industry there was only one trade show worth mentioning: New York Toy Fair—and it was an extravaganza. Anyone who was anyone was walking the halls of the historic Toy Building. Good or bad—those days are long gone. Today there are myriad trade shows to choose from. Each one supposedly serves its own purpose: some are for the mass market, some for the specialty market, some for international markets; yet I see many of the same buyers at all of them. The one common link between these shows is the proverbial water cooler discussion, “Are trade shows even necessary anymore?”
China is a growing economic powerhouse. What does China’s growth mean for the U.S. toy industry?