Fair Play: The Toy Fair Wrap-Up

That’s a wrap! Yes, we can all breathe easy and look forward to a restful weekend as the UK’s biggest toy event, the London Toy Fair has closed its doors for another year. 

It was an incredible year to be at the show, with so many innovative toys and games wowing visitors from the wooden playthings to tech and everything in between. 

Spirits were high throughout the show, despite speculation from national news outlets throwing around generalisations about how the toy business is struggling. The interest from the general press only heightened the excitement with many smaller creators getting to showcase their wares to a national audience.

A surprising trend that emerged at the fair was toilet humour. Poo emojis could be spotted around the show floor, hidden in plain-sight like Disneyland’s hidden Mickeys, just waiting to make the little ones giggle. Tomy even has a series of collectable plushes based around different strains of flatulence… well, that’s just good clean fun!

Unicorn imagery once again dominated many products from plush to scooters, meanwhile the immense popularity of YouTubers began to seep into the world of toys with Tiana’s new toy line from Vivid as well as Big Potato’s new game Truth Bombs, developed in partnership with internet duo Dan and Phil.

When it comes to attendees, the show seemed as busy as ever, with all of the major players in the buying space putting in appearances throughout the three days. 

"It’s been a really good show for us," commented John Kelly, of construction toy brand Magformers.

"It’s been a really great opportunity to meet some of the big retailers who are coming by the stand including John Lewis, Waitrose and Ocado. The whole STEM movement continues to grow. Magformers is a toy with an educational aspect to it but its also fun and cool and we’ve had some great feedback about that. The independents continue to treat us really warmly as well, with many getting the products out in stores and doing demos which is brilliant."

The absence of the ‘big two’ was felt at the show, however this gave some of the smaller brands a chance to shine further into the limelight.

"We’ve made the effort to see a lot more of the independent retailers this year," said Clive Wooster of Geomag.

"That will really help with our counter-seasonal trade as well as our Christmas trade. Last year was an early year for us, but this year has been a really successful show."

Games were particularly popular at the show with many new creative ideas generating excitement.

"There might be a bit of difference between the toys and games markets," stated Sean Byrne of Wildcard Games at the show.

"Parents want to do something with their kids that gets them off their phones and gets them interacting and being social with each other. I’ve seen headlines on the national news saying toy sales have gone down but in the games space its seem sales are just going up."

One issue that became something of an elephant in the room was counterfeiting. While it’s always positive to see renewed interest in products, anonymous visitors snapping a few too many photos certainly raised eyebrows on more than a few occasions. 

"Retailers have been really happy with the new items and its busier than ever this year," explains Marie Bureau of Le Toy Van.

"The downside has been a few people on the stand who are not customers. We’ve had lots of copycats which gets a bit stressful. It’s been very busy but you have to very quickly know – is that a customer or is that someone have to move on from the stand!"

The annual BTHA toy awards also saw a massive turnout, with MGA’s phenomenally successful collectable line L.O.L. Surprise being the big winner of the evening.

As always the ToyNews team was on hand to get the read of the industry – often over a pint or two of Olympia’s finest booze! As the toy industry evolves, so should its press evolve with it, which is why your favourite trade mag has dipped its toe into the waters of video content! Check out our bite-sized video coverage of the event on our Instagram page now, and don’t forget to give us a follow!

Now if you don’t mind us we’re going to catch up on some much-needed sleep – about three days worth should do it!

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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