North American International Toy Fair features latest trends from one of retail’s biggest categories
The vibrant global toy and play community descended upon New York City last week for The Toy Association’s 115th North American International Toy Fair. In all, 26,236 professionals attended the largest toy show in the Western Hemisphere, where they got a sneak peek at hundreds of thousands of cutting-edge toys and games shown across 442,700 net square feet of exhibit space — the equivalent of about seven football fields filled with toys. The show was held Saturday, Feb. 17 to Tuesday, Feb. 20 at the Javits Center.
Eager to see the latest trends and most inspiring new toys, games, and youth entertainment products for spring, summer, and holiday ’18, just over 11,000 retailers, wholesalers, entertainment executives, importers, and buying groups from 97 countries attended Toy Fair. The show drew an increase in international trade guests (+26%), as well as large delegations of attendees from outside the U.S., including 3,802 international visitors, of which 1,589 were global buyers. The top five countries represented at the show, not including the U.S. and Canada, were China, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Japan.
From veteran toymakers to first-time exhibitors in the “Launch Pad” section of the show, Toy Fair’s 1,049 exhibiting companies showcased new product lines and key drivers in front of 8,775 mass and specialty buyers, including delegations from over 3,900 unique retail outlets and 22 of the nation’s top 25 toy sellers, such as Amazon.com, Walmart, Target Stores, Kohl’s, American Girl, Costco, Best Buy, Family Dollar, Disney Store, Lego/Legoland Mail Order, and Dollar Tree.
Licensing executives from NBCUniversal Brand Development, Netflix, Nickelodeon Consumer Products, Paramount Pictures, Sesame Workshop, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and others were also on-site to scout new trends and forge licensing agreements with toymakers.
The vast range of attendees eagerly explored every square inch of the convention center, which was teeming with brand-new toys and games, including collectibles, plush, dolls, action figures, nostalgic and retro playthings, innovative tech toys, family board games, outdoor toys, licensed playthings, and everything in between. Participants also enjoyed a range of practical educational sessions that provided insight into global safety standards, toy trends, licensing, specialty retail, entrepreneurship, and much more.
“New York Toy Fair 2018 was a business and media buzz success! The booths and aisles were packed with highly-qualified toy buyers, licensors, investors, inventors, and media from around the world, generating feedback that was overwhelmingly positive,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “Toy Fair delivered all the energy, creativity, and innovation of the global toy industry and solidified its role as a critical gateway to the $27 billion U.S. toy market and both thriving and developing toy markets around the world. From order-writing and networking, to trend-spotting and professional development opportunities, our guests were busy from the second Toy Fair opened right up until closing day.”
“For over a hundred years, buyers and sellers of toys have come together at New York Toy Fair to share with each other what’s new, what’s exciting, and what they expect to succeed at retail — and this year was no exception,” added Marian Bossard, executive vice president of global market events at The Toy Association. “We are proud that the show continues to draw an enthusiastic crowd of global guests who consider Toy Fair to be THE place to spot the next hit toys and games. It truly is unlike any other toy show in the world!”
Toy Fair 2018 welcomed 974 global print journalists, broadcast reporters, and bloggers to report on the top toy trends for 2018 – including The Big Reveal, Millennial Nostalgia, Games Galore, Pet Play, Inspiring Imaginations, and Toys that Teach. Top-tier media outlets represented at Toy Fair included ABC News, CNBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, Fox Business, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Newsweek, New York Post, Huffpost, Associated Press, Good Housekeeping, Popular Science, Evan Tube, Ryan’s Toy Review, and more.
Beyond the walls of the Javits Center, the world was also buzzing with Toy Fair news. On opening day, Toy Fair was a trending topic on Twitter and #TFNY had 6.4 million impressions, while #ToyFair2018 had 4.8 million impressions. On Instagram, #TFNY and related hashtags were used 26,838 times.
“It was our company’s first time exhibiting at the show. I’ve shown with another company, and I can honestly say I thought this was the best show traffic-wise in several years,” said Julien Sharp, director of sales at What Do You Meme? “Buyers were very motivated to write orders, and the energy in our Launch Pad (new exhibitor) area was incredible.”
“BigMouth had outstanding booth traffic covering the entire range of retailer types,” said Eric Palonen, marketing manager at BigMouth Inc. “We had our best Toy Fair yet and can’t wait to come back next year.”
Lisa Visco, vice president of merchandising at specialty retailer Learning Express Toys, remarked on the innovative new product she saw from her store’s core vendors. “I thought Fashion Angels, in particular, looked terrific, with lots of new magic sequin items. The spa category had many new offerings – and there was an overabundance of ‘poop’ items! It looks like 2018 should be another strong year for toys!” said Visco.
The global toy industry will come together once again in 2019 at the 116th North American International Toy Fair, taking place Saturday, Feb. 16 to Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Javits Center. Save the date for The Toy Association’s long-lead fall marketplace, Fall Toy Preview, taking place October 2-4, 2018, in Dallas.