The 117th annual Toy Fair New York brought tens of thousands of play innovators from 100 countries to New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from February 22 to 25. The sold-out marketplace boasted the equivalent of nearly eight football fields filled with more than 100,000 toys and games. The show also provided a line-up of daily educational programming to foster creative thinking and help businesses succeed in an evolving toy and retail environment.
“Over the past 117 years Toy Fair New York has evolved from business meetings in New York City’s iconic Toy Building to a crucial global hub for play professionals seeking the hottest new trends, new business opportunities, access to New York’s finance and media communities, and unrivaled educational programming,” stated Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association, the trade group that produces the show. “This year’s marketplace unveiled fresh product lines, innovative twists on classics, exciting new tech and interactive playthings, and licensed toys driven by digital and traditional media IP – all competing to top kids’ wish lists and vital to driving the $27 billion U.S. toy market and U.S. toymakers’ integral role in the $90 billion global toy industry.”
Exhibiting companies from 30 countries unveiled new lines and key drivers to buyers from the nation’s top 25 toy retailers, international outlets, and specialty stores, including: Big Lots, Dollar General, 99 Cents Only Stores, Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale, Amazon, Target, Ebay, Learning Resources, Hobby Lobby, Disney Store, Dave & Busters, Gamestop/EB Games, Walgreens, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Staples, Six Flags Entertainment, Smyths Toys (UK), The Entertainer Ltd. (UK), A.S. Watson Group (Hong Kong), and Hudson’s Bay (Canada).
First-time exhibitors showcased never-before-seen playthings in the “Launch Pad” section of the show. As a major pop culture destination, Toy Fair New York also welcomed more family influencers and content creators than ever before, including Tic Tac Toy, FGTeeV, ThatYouTub3Family, Jace’s Toy Playhouse, and SuperHeroKids. Multiple entertainment companies were once again in attendance to negotiate deals and tap into new categories of play, including Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products; Lionsgate Entertainment, Netflix, Sesame Workshop, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and ViacomCBS.
Toy Fair New York continues to grow in international retailer influence, with the following countries returning after being absent last year: Bolivia, Finland, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, New Zealand, Thailand, Turkey, and Ukraine.
In addition to conducting business, exhibitors leveraged media opportunities with nearly 1,000 members of the press attending Toy Fair to scoop the toy story of the year and report on The Toy Association’s top toy trends of 2020.
“Toy Fair New York is one of the most exciting events on the calendar for our PR and Influencer team as we have the opportunity to meet with so many media and content creators to showcase the innovation in our upcoming line up of toys, games, and entertainment and digital properties,” said Tammy Smitham, VP communications & CSR at Spin Master Ltd.
Top-tier media outlets at Toy Fair included: ABC News, CNBC, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Shark Tank, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Parenting.com, and Forbes.com.
Dozens of daily educational seminars, panel presentations, and demos took place at the show, covering toy and play topics like safety, compliance and sustainability; toy invention, design and entrepreneurship; top trends; global trade and market expansion; licensing; and more. An expanded Creative Factor program was a show highlight; nearly hourly presentations were held in the Creative Factor theatre to provide creative professionals with the tips, tools, and strategies they need to innovate in today’s toy, play, and retail environment. An inaugural Student Congress for university-level toy design students also took place, as well as the second annual CF@TF Inventor Day providing up-and-coming inventors with the chance to pitch their ideas to top toy professionals and manufacturing partners.
“As a first-time exhibitor, the show was amazing for us,” said Pia Colon Wurth, licensing director at Buzzy, Inc. “What a diverse group of attendees! We met everyone from liquidators to independents to museum stores to Shark Tank. No one got past our booth without seeing our products. It was a great show for us!”
Added Eric Von Stein, partner at Bright Stripes: “We had an incredible experience at Toy Fair New York and saw hundreds of buyers in our booth. The Launch Pad [for first-time exhibitors] was packed with people looking to spot fresh new products, and we were busy through to the very end of the show. We experienced so much genuine excitement and enthusiasm for our line and are already looking forward to booking our booth for 2021!”
“Toy Fair is always a must-go-to toy show for us,” said Daniel Elliott, associate category manager – general merchandise at Pilot Flying J. “Being able to stay up-to-date on industry trends and consumer buying habits really helps us understand and grow our toy business. With vendors ranging from local entrepreneurs to worldwide industry giants, it is great to have access to all these companies in a centralized location to see how we can continue to get the right products in front of our guests.”
Shelley MacDonald, divisional merchandise manager at Toys R Us Canada, said her team “had great feedback from this year’s show,” adding: “From solid product lines and new introductions to exciting vendor activations like the TY Fashion Show and seeing Shaquille O’Neal at the Basic Fun booth for Tonka – it generates a fun buzz and keeps things interesting. We always look forward to checking out the Level 1 booths, where there are always interesting and unique finds.”
The global toy industry will come together once again next year at the 118th Toy Fair New York, taking place Saturday, February 13 to Tuesday, February 16 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Save the date for Toy Fair Dallas, The Toy Association’s long-lead marketplace, taking place October 6 to 8, 2020 in Dallas, TX.