Thousands of toy professionals descended on The Toy Association’s Toy Fair Dallas last week, which debuted the show’s new name, new initiatives, and, of course, new products from toy manufacturers for 2020 as well as key drivers for Christmas 2019.
Held from October 2 to 4 in Dallas, Texas, the autumn marketplace attracted strong representation from Walmart, Amazon, and Target, along with other top 25 toy retailers, including BJ’s Wholesale, Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby, Meijer, Michaels Stores, and Sam’s Club among others.
The show drew international distribution companies from all parts of the world, including Australia, Chile, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and the UK.
Among the show’s highlights was the new FutureCast Gallery. The experiential space served as a conversation starter, one that invited buyers to see products outside their normal hit list and to think outside the box when it comes to retailing for 2020.
“Because this is a heavily appointment-driven show, retailers would generally come to meet with the brands they’re currently buying from but that’s not the only reason why they’re here,” said Kid@Heart Founder Steve Starobinsky, whom The Toy Association tasked to curate the gallery. “They’re also here to find that one item, that one brand, that’s going to make their year.”
The FutureCast Gallery presented 10 projected retail themes for 2020, highlighting things such as the impact of grandparents’ toy-spending power and the growing importance of sustainability in design for consumers.
The 10 categories included: Animal of the Year; The Olympic Effect; Radical Sustainability; Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, Creative; Beauty Videos & Make-Up; Grandparent-Friendly; The Spirit of Collaboration; STEM; Preschool Magic; and Innovation on Wheels. 20 products were featured in the space to represent these themes, including such items as the Harry Potter Skele-Gro Bottle by Wow! Stuff (Radical Sustainability), Face Paintoos by PlayMonster (Beauty Videos & Make-Up), and Knuckle Headz by SD Toyz (Innovation on Wheels), among others.
The Toy Association’s executive vice president of global market events, Marian Bossard, added: “The FutureCast Gallery was created in response to the rapid changes happening at retail. This list of themes and the presentation of products in line with those themes can be used as a resource for retailers as they continue to preview product and begin to set their 2020 plans in motion.
“Many took advantage of this new space during the show, and we’ve already received very positive feedback.”
Also drawing crowds to the FutureCast Gallery were the Knowledge Network educational sessions which addressed relevant topics such as how to apply 14 unifying characteristics of STEM/STEAM toys to product development and how to successfully sell your product into China.
Amazon also presented a session on how to protect and boost your brand in the marketplace. Likewise, FutureCast was the kickoff venue for the Influencer Breakfast, acting as a reference point for these trendsetting individuals to then tour the show and scout out their recommendations for the ‘19 holiday shopping season and beyond.
The show wrapped up with additional supporting events for attendees to both network and give back. These included the opening night party, which benefited The Toy Foundation; The Toy Association’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) Mixer + Art Gallery; as well as The Toy Foundation’s annual post-show Toy Bank collection, which saw upwards of 10,000 toys donated.
Toy Fair Dallas will return to the Dallas Market Centre for next year’s show, taking place October 6 to 8, 2020.