Observations from a toy veteran

In his new regular column, Jon Salisbury looks back over 25 years in the toy industry...
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25 years. You could get less for murder but that was my sentence in toy years when I became editor of Toy Trader in February 1985 at the callow age of 22.

I was appointed just after Earls Court 1985 and March was my first ever issue. But how things have changed in that quarter of a century - or have they?

Hasbro had Transformers and My Little Pony but had bought MB Games and Playskool to give it a foot in other categories, while Mattel was basking in the glow of Masters of the Universe, although the globalisation of Barbie was some way off. Kenner and Parker were still independent forces to be reckoned with, Bandai and Tomy were not yet international power houses and Lego, the only European giant, had yet to roll out globally, while Toys R Us had just dipped its toes into foreign markets.

So many of those names remain salient in the 2010. Brands come and go but so many have stood the test of time that writing about the toy industry today sometimes feel like déjà vu - all over again.

Take Lego, currently on a roll and proud of its latest achievements but still the target of copyright challenges. Lego’s trade mark is regularly the subject of courtroom drama and the Danish company has just appealed a decision to cancel its application to register its brick as a Community trade mark.

Expect sparks to fly but, as my lawyer once said to me: “I knew the judge in one of those cases and he said that the respective parties can argue all they want but when you step on a toy brick in bare feet it f*cking hurts no matter who made it!”

Ouch in 1985 and ouch still in 2010.

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Observations of a toy veteran

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