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Master and Commander: The Toymaster Preview

No matter what corner of the British isles you venture to, you are sure to find a retailer bearing the Toymaster branding. With over 150 stores across the UK, the retail chain boasts members from all over the nation, each one with their own unique take on this ever-changing industry. 

This May, the members of this time-honoured organisation will converge on the sleepy town of Harrogate to see the latest products… and quaff a fair few bevvys along the way! Read on for our guide of the top brands to see at the show, but first, we caught up with the show’s organisers Ian Edmunds and Yogi Parmer to get their take on what to expect. 

“Toymaster is the major trade show of the year,” enthuses Edmunds, Toymaster MD, “there are over 100 suppliers on the way, and new suppliers are being added to the line-up every year, the show keeps on growing, year after year.” 

“This is the first time all the big guns will be at a show together,” adds Yogi Parmar, operations director at Toymaster. “Even at Olympia’s Toy Fair, some of those big brands are missing. Every big brand will be at our show and we’re really proud of that fact. Also we serve bacon butties at 1am, what’s more important than that?" 

The Toymaster show has developed into one of the most important trade shows over the years, growing from humble beginnings, as a gathering of toy retailers in the ’90s economy. “It’s an essential place to plan your Christmas offering,” explains Edmunds, “It’s all targeted towards bringing all the suppliers in Harrogate together. That’s the overall goal.” 

Among the other UK shows, Toymaster stands out as the only show to boast the big three: Hasbro, Mattel and LEGO. It’s a key moment in the year for these large brands to connect with smaller sellers and form those relationships that will be essential for the year of trading ahead. 

This is the first time all the big guns will be at a show together

Yogi Parmer, Toymaster

Last year, the show was defined by the fidget spinner trend, with the inescapable knick-knacks cropping up in every corner of the show floor. This year lacks such a defined craze, so it’s tricky to pinpoint what may be the standout item of the show. With collectables being the hottest property in the toy space right now, it’s fair to assume that there will be a focus on pocket-money items but with the recent launch of Nintendo’s Labo toy, it will be interesting to see if other brands jump on the construction toy trend with their own D.I.Y. items. Of course, big brands like LEGO, Hasbro, Mattel, Sylvanian Families and more will be set to wow attendees with displays that show off the diversity of their product offerings. Yogi Parmer highlights some of the new offerings at the show with an air of excitement that is hard not to notice. 

"A special feature new for this year is a Jurassic World VR experience," enthuses Parmer. "We’re also hosting a social media discussion for the first time. Our members can come along and share their experiences and ideas for social media. We’ve also got our golfing event on Monday, so that should be a lot of fun as well. We’ve also got plenty of entertainment in the night time, including our much anticipated Ibiza night." 

“What sets Harrogate apart from other trade shows is that it’s more than just a trade show, it’s a three-day experience,” adds Edmunds. “Its open to all independents not just toymasters and it’s a sociable event for the whole industry to come together. Business is obviously important but not all business is done on the show floor. It’s about building your relationships, building your network and everything else.” 

“With over 100 suppliers in attendance, the diversity of products on display will be vast,” concludes Parmar. “We’re really excited to see what the show brings this year.” 

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