The first ever Toy & Game Inventors Workshop has been hailed a success by the toy companies, inventors and speakers who attended.
The event – held in association with Britain’s Next Hot Toy – took place at Rich Mix yesterday (Monday, September 22nd) and saw almost 100 inventors pack into the East London venue.
They were treated to a full conference programme in the morning, opened by Dr Jim Wyatt, creative director of Wow! Labs, who stated that "new and innovative toys are at the very centre of toy company growth. They could not be more important. Without new toys and games the industry would simply stagnate".
Dr Wyatt told the gathered delegates: "Like no other industry I have ever seen, the toy industry thrives and prospers on innovation – and it needs people with ideas, people who are gathered in this room today, to help it continue to grow and innovate even further."
Following the opening address, Phil Sage, director of global product acquisition and inventor relations at Hasbro, took delegates ‘From Sketch to Shelf’, talking them through the process that the firm goes through; Wendy Philips from The Toy Safety Experts outlined the key points from the new legislation and what inventors need to bear in mind; while Lesley Singleton, director of Playtime PR offered them tips on how to sell their big idea.
Three panel sessions completed the morning. Steve Reece from Kids Brand Insight chaired What Retail & Consumers Are Looking For, introducing Wendy Munt, former Argos buyer and director of Be Inspired; Dr Amanda Gummer from Fundamentally Children; Cara Davies from Firebox.com; and Becky Ottery from indie store Eclectic Games.
"The toy industry in the UK has needed something like this for years," Reece said.
Toyologist Peter Jenkinson took charge of the board game panel. He asked Richard McLuckie from Pants on Fire Games, Tristan Hyatt-Williams and Dean Tempest from Big Potato, Ben Hogg from Esdevium Games and board game expert Daniela Pietrosanu just why the board game category is booming.
"Tip top event; content and calibre of inventors really made it stand out for me," Jenkinson offered.
A particular highlight of the morning was the inventor panel session, chaired by Dougal Grimes, director of inventor relations at Hasbro. The lively debate included Sir Torquil Norman, Bluebird Toys founder and creator of The Big Yellow Teapot; Rena Nathanson, founder of Bananagrams; Richard Heayes, founder of Heayes Design; and Dr Jim Wyatt from Wow! Labs, who all shared their stories about how they made it in the toy industry.
In the afternoon, inventors were given the chance to pitch to event partners Asobi, Cartamundi, Hasbro, Flair, John Adams, Sambro, Vivid, Casdon, Trends UK, HTI, Wow! Stuff and Guandong Alpha Animation. Fundamentally Children, Big On Toy Innovation and Be Inspired were also on hand to offer advice.
"What struck us about the event was the sheer breadth of young talent in the industry," said Nikki Samuels, director at Sambro. "The innovative product developers are exactly the kind of people Sambro are looking to work with going forward and we will keep ToyNews up to date as we progress our discussions with them."
A full report on the Toy & Game Inventors Workshop will appear in the November issue of ToyNews and look out for further stories online this week.