On April 4th-5th, Cranmore Park will play host to the fifth annual Independent Toy and Gift Show, which promises to bring together a diverse range of exhibitors representing the latest in toys, gadgets and gifts. Jack Ridsdale sat down with Miles Penhallow, head of toys and children’s gifts at Play-Room to find out what this year’s show has in store.
What can visitors expect to find at this year’s show?
We aim to offer the best in toy ranges from key toy suppliers mixed in with more unusual opportunities with children’s lifestyle products. The gift element is products that can be bought for children that aren’t technically toys, which can be backpacks, stationery, room decor pieces, anything that’s bought for children that aren’t really classed as toys. Our aim is to blend children’s lifestyle products that offer a higher margin opportunity with the key branded ranges from the best toy suppliers. We’re delighted for the first time our top 30 suppliers by turnover are all in attendance.
Last year’s theme was games, is there a theme this year? Can you explain why this theme was chosen?
We wanted a theme to help the display team to create theatre around the showroom and give the suppliers some idea of some product that they could promote. This year we’ve gone for STEM, which is very on trend at the moment. Attendees can expect some great construction pieces as they walk in along with a Transformers café, that goes along with the science theme.
Are there any first-time exhibitors this year?
The key new ones would be Steiff, Bertoy, Smart Games, Funko (which has now taken over Underground) and Engino. We’re also welcoming Epoch back this year.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s show?
We get complimented on two things: The quality of the venue, how easy it is for exhibitors to set up and the free parking, refreshments, hot lunch etc. Visitors are made to feel really welcome. This is our HQ, not just a faceless venue so that gives me the most pleasure is to see visitors that come back because they enjoy the experience.
In what ways have you seen the show grow over the years?
We’ve added diversity of product. We wanted to be like Hall 5 in Spring Fair when you’re never sure what you going to get around the corner. Stands are upping their game, which we are going to have an award for, that is going to be awarded by our chairman David Fynn.
What’s the biggest appeal of the show to suppliers?
We actually attract a variety of buyers. We’re not just about independent toy shop buyers, we have some very good quality department stores and garden centres. Recently we’ve seen buyers from the leisure industry, from theme parks and I think it’s the quality and variety of buyers. We don’t claim to be the biggest show in terms of footfall but it isn’t about numbers. If we could have one hundred visitors a day of the highest quality buyers that would be my dream! It’s about getting a happy medium.
Are there any particular products you predict will be a big hit at this year’s show?
The extensions to Hatchimals from Spin Master are fantastic, bringing it down to pocket money prices. I think PJ Masks, as a pre-school property is brilliant. Go visit Flair for that. Bandai has done an absolutely fantastic job with the movie product for Power Rangers. As a range and as a company I think MGA and Little Tikes, it’s the strongest range I’ve seen. On the basis of Num Nums doing so well last year, the L.O.L. dolls, like a cross between an onion and a Russian doll, you peel the layers and get pieces of the playset that you then create the playset with – fantastic product! Little Tikes have introduced some of the classic lines like Waffle Blocks. Mattel has got some lovely new product as well.
What do you hope visitors will take away from the experience?
For the first time, all visitors are going to be given a list of show stopper specials, we’ve encouraged all visitors to have one line that they are selling while stocks last; all visitors will be given a list to say these are the highlighted offers and they can get these offers at a special price. So hopefully all visitors will leave thinking that was well worth the day, if only because they managed to get a great deal that they wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.