Industry calls for Awards shake-up

More than half of toy companies demand revised reviews process and format; BTHA welcomes feedback.
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The UK toy trade wants its annual awards ceremony overhauled.

ToyNews received feedback from 30 toy firms, many of which called for better recognition for smaller brands, as well as a tweaked format and product reviews process.

Almost half were entirely positive about the 2012 Toy Industry Awards (42.85 per cent), while more than half said they want change (57.15 per cent). The majority mixed praise with constructive criticism.

The 2013 event took place in the new Upper West Hall at London Olympia, with a drinks reception and an ‘Oscars-style’ ceremony.

“I thought the format worked well and with changes it could be terrific,” said Worlds Apart’s sales director Vance Withers.

“We need more tables, the hall should be filled from the front, there should be a professional host and I’d rather pay more for a ticket and have a free bar.”

Thierry Bourret, owner and founder of Asobi, added: “Even The Oscars have a best supporting category. Maybe it’s time for the organisers to be a little more inclusive and also look at the smaller firms?”

Several firms called for a sit-down meal, a “more fun, colourful” vibe, more acceptance speeches and a tweaked review process.

Wow Stuff CEO Richard North commented: “Can we have a cross section of kids decide what they really want? The products should be set up to work, but other than that, zero influence and genuine reporting on the results.”

Toymaster’s operations and marketing director Ian Edmunds disagreed: “You can’t leave it to children. Awards are always going to be contentious but you have to have them, and you need the industry to decide who’s going to win them.”

The Entertainer’s buying director Stuart Grant, who sits on the judging panel, said: “The industry does try and recognise people who don’t believe they’ll ever win a big award, but are doing a fantastic job in their own way. But I think the Toy Awards were understated; they deserve a grander platform.”

The event is organised by the British Toy & Hobby Association and the Toy Retailers Association judge certain categories.

The TRA declined to comment, but the BTHA’s head of member and special events Matt Jones told ToyNews: “We welcome feedback which is taken on board to help shape the future of the event.”

Character Options’ marketing director Jerry Healy seemed to summarise the general consensus.

“There were of course some things that could have gone a little better – but it was only year one of this new format. I’m sure with tweaks next year’s awards will be just right,” he concluded.

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