Toy Fair UK (aka THE Toy Fair) is celebrating its 60th birthday. They kicked things off with a speech from Frank Martin, BTHA Chairman...
"As the Chair of BTHA I’m delighted to be making these opening remarks today – at this, our 60th Toy Fair. I’ll tell you more about how we plan to mark this anniversary year later on. But first, let’s deal with the year just past, and our sector’s performance. You do not need me to tell you that this has been a difficult trading year, both at home and abroad, and the toy industry, just like other sectors, has had to share some of that pain. The good news is that, even in these difficult times, the resilience of the toy sector continues. Last year, the overall entertainment industry declined in sales value by 12%, by contrast the UK Toy Industry declined by 1%.
We’ve always believed at the BTHA that toys have a unique place within the household budget and these figures once again support this notion. In fact, in categories such as building sets and dolls there was a 10% rise in both categories. And there’s no doubting that this performance was greatly helped by a leap of 65% in week 52 which was, no doubt, aided by the virtual three day weekend just before Christmas. The great news is that the UK is still the largest toy market in Europe and fourth in the world overall. The figures also suggest that Britons are buying toys throughout the year and are less seasonal than other territories, with Christmas making up only 23% of the overall sales for the year."
No surprise, folks are buying toys all year long, but it is good to hear the numbers are holding even in the UK. Tighter budgets have seen some figures go from brilliant to 90's grade exciting (which is to say they cut paints, sculpts, articulation and accessories to the bone and jacked up the price) while other companies like NECA upped their game to assure you are wowed at every turn and show your love with your hard earned cash. Hasbro learned that even if Lucas re-releases Star Wars Episode 1 in 3D, that doesn't mean we'll buy better versions of characters we didn't care about the first time the film came out. They also learned that if a movie company moves a movie release date, they'll have to sit on toys they were ready to bank on ...for a very long time. WE learned that a company called Jazwares can go from making sub-par Mortal Kombat and Adventure Time toys to cranking out piles of mind blowing Nickelodeon and Hanna Barbera cartoon character merch..which begs the question as to WHY they would put out sub-par Adventure Time toys in the first place!! Clearly the ability is there. Makes me head hurt.
Anyyyyway...want to see some shots of the show floor?
Most noteworthy: LEGO put a roof on their booth to prevent sneaky ninja photographers from getting shots of the good they won't allow people to shoot inside. Teasers. We also hear they don't have any big art pieces on the sides of their booth. What could be sooooo secret? They've practically spilled their whole 2013 lot already!
Bandai seems to be putting out a spread but with Power Rangers Megaforce and Ben 10 Omniverse all hitting stores already, there won't be much excitement for us..even if they do let our boys shoot. They do have a nifty life-size Power Ranger statue made from hundreds of Power Rangers action figures to celebrate the 25th birthday! Yay eye candy.
A company called Bladez is showing off some Star Wars inflatable remote control stuff..namely a big R2-D2 and an R5-D4. You can also catch a glimpse of some super deformed looking characters all the way to the left AND what appears to be a Despicable Me Minion front and center.
On the upper level we spotted some Cartoon Network signage featuring Ben 10 and one of my favorite cartoons of 2012..The Amazing World of Gumball!! Now that both Adventure Time and Regular Show have fast selling toys on the shelves, I can only hoped this paved the way for Gumball to get their own line in some form. We'll have someone look into it fo sho.
We also spotted some Doctor Who on the lower level. We are told pictured is a remote control inflatable Dalek and a Tardis wardrobe/ tent like structure that has been on sale for some time, but it's all new to me!
More UK Toy Fair goodness to come so keep checking back! If you want a look at what we've already shown, hit up out Flickr Galleries!