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Celebrating 100 Years Of Making Toys
By Beth Michaels
December 1, 2002

Marking its 100th anniversary next year, Toy Fair will break the current Guinness World Record for “Most Participants in a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony” at its show opening event on Sunday morning, February 16.

With more than 15,000 buyers and 1,500 toy manufacturers, distributors, importers and sales agents attending what will they see during the four-day gathering?

Showcases of toys for all ages, from classic to interactive, to holiday themed items, to playground equipment or video games.

“A preview of new toys for the upcoming season in hopes of discovering the new hot toy,” says Kelli Biedenbach, president of The Cat’s Meow, a small infants to ‘tweens retailer out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Selling educational and specialty toys, Kelli adds that attending the annual fair helps her company gain insight into changes in the toy market and gives her ideas for new products and events. A representative of The Cat’s Meow has attended Toy Fair for each of the 25 years the business has been in existence.

Large retailers benefit for similar reasons. Eighty-year-old KB Toys is the nation’s largest combined mall-based and online specialty toy retailer and the nations second largest pure toy retailer, reports John Reilly, Director for Sales Promotion & Public Relations.

John says KB Toy’s biggest gain from attending the fair is to evaluate upcoming buys and take the pulse of trends and the industry. “Our buyers begin seeing new product lines for the upcoming year as early as the summer. Toy Fair is often the second or third time our buyers are seeing products.”

JAKKS Pacific, Inc., which ranks as one of the top five U.S. toy companies in the nation, has attended Toy Fair every year since the company was founded in 1995. With a showroom in the International Toy Center at 200 5th Avenue, Genna Goldberg, Director of Corporate Communications, says, “We spend much of the year conceptualizing what our showroom will look like, and with over 4,500 products, it is always a challenge to discover new, interesting and effective ways of highlighting our product lines.”

JAKKS Pacific introduces many of their products through creating thematic environments. For instance, one room takes you to a World Wrestling Entertainment backstage event, while another gives you an interactive Nickelodeon wonderland displaying their top-selling line of Nickelodeon compounds. The company also has product demonstrations in each room, hosts several special presentations for various groups, and throws occasional private industry parties for their customers.

Besides showing off their new products, the biggest plus for manufactures like JAKKS Pacific to attend is gaining new business from all over the world. “Toy Fair marks the biggest selling season of the year. [It] is the pinnacle event for us to showcase our entire line to all of our customers worldwide,” explains Goldberg.”

All exhibit sites are located in New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, in addition to local area showrooms in the Toy District area.

For more information: toy-tia.org/AITF


ToyFair: Toy Fair: Postcards from the Big Top
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