The best new toys, games and youth entertainment products made their New York City showing last week at the 113th North American International Toy Fair. From February 13-16, the largest toy marketplace in the Western Hemisphere opened its doors to more than 30,600 global play professionals, a 16 percent increase from 2015. Owned and operated by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Toy Fair 2016 boasted an expansive 415,000 net square feet of exhibit space at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, filled with hundreds of thousands of exciting, innovative new toys and games.
Despite frosty temperatures and snowfall in the Big Apple, Toy Fair was a hotbed of activity. Buyers, exhibitors, entertainment executives, members of the press, and trade guests from across the U.S. and 92 countries arrived in Manhattanfor the international toy and game event.
More than 1,200 exhibitors, importers, distributors and sales agents showcased their latest product lines and key drivers for holiday ’16 in front of 10,040 mass and specialty retail buyers, a 12 percent increase from a year ago. This included delegations from 24 of the nation’s top 25 toy sellers, such as Amazon, Walgreens, Kohl’s, Costco, CVS, Target, Toys”R”Us, Walmart, and more. More than 5,200 unique retail outlets were represented, with increased participation from 61 countries and 2,166 total international attendees. The top five countries represented by the most buyers were Canada, the U.K., Mexico, Japan and Australia.
“From total attendance to the volume of international buyers to news media attention, our exhibitors consistently reported Toy Fair 2016 was a success and one of the very best shows they attend,” said Steve Pasierb, TIA president and CEO. “The innovative and fun products displayed underscore the vitality of the toy industry and over the coming months through the holiday season will bring joy to the lives of millions of children and families. We expect the positivity, momentum and great range of products we saw on Toy Fair’s show floors to build upon the outstanding 6.7 percent sales growth the industry experienced in 2015.”
From the most dedicated collectors to educational programmers, all attendees had the opportunity to preview the full spectrum of toys and games that encourage the healthy development of children, including active toys, dolls and plush, board games, e-connected toys, arts & crafts, role-play toys and more.
“With hundreds of thousands of toys exhibited, booth traffic was consistently high for all four days of the show,” added Marian Bossard, SVP of global market events at TIA. “And TIA’s Knowledge Network offered invaluable insight beyond the purchase orders and business card exchanges on the floor.”
Toy Fair 2016 also welcomed a 7% increase in global press, with 1,110 print journalists, broadcast reporters and bloggers at the show to report on the top toy trends for 2016 – including Family Matters, Coveted Collectibles, Ultimate Creator, STEAM, and Top in Tech. Top-tier media outlets represented at Toy Fair included “Good Morning America,” “Good Day New York,” CNBC, CBS Newspath, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and Fortune.
“I have been attending Toy Fair for 19 years. Toy Fair 2016 was one of the most exciting one in years! I found treasure in practically every booth I visited,” said Katherine O. McHenry, owner of Building Blocks Toy Store, an independent retailer based in Chicago. “There was a great balance between STEAM, technology, licensed/trend, and classic/retro toys. Toy Fair was a huge success and I found myself rejuvenated and excited for the year.”
Veteran and freshmen exhibitors also left the Javits Center on February 16th equally satisfied.
Swurfer, a handcrafted swingboards company, had its first Toy Fair presence and COO Matt Ackerman said that compared to other trade shows, “the opportunities were bigger than anything we’ve experienced.”
“Not only did we get a chance to connect with — and receive orders from — our usual and expected partners, we also were approached by many other partners proposing a wide range of unexpected and exciting business opportunities,” he said. “Next year’s Toy Fair is already booked in our calendar.”
“Coming out of this year’s Toy Fair, we have experienced tremendous support from all our retail partners for our upcoming ranges,” noted Paul Solomon, Co-CEO of Moose Toys. “Shopkins and Little Live Pets continue to make a big impression and we were thrilled at the response to our new brands, Poppit, Hyper Toss, SelfieMic and the relaunch of 1980s classic, Betty Spaghetty. New York Toy Fair has provided a great platform to connect and launch with our partners programs that will ensure 2016 will be our best year yet.”
This year also featured the debut of Play Fair, which was co-hosted by TIA and LeftField Media in the Javits Center’s North hall on February 13 and 14. Capacity crowds of more than 20,000 attendees warmed up at the public celebration of play, which was presented by Nickelodeon and LEGO. Play Fair served as an arena for families to try out new toys, interact with popular characters like PJ Masks and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, play games, take photos and purchase new products.
“In its debut year, Play Fair was a success beyond all expectations that now provides the basis for a much larger show with more expansive play experiences in the future,” noted Pasierb. “Families braved cold temperatures to see, play, learn and enjoy time together. It’s clear that we’ve tapped into the passion that families and the general public have for great toys and play.”