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Toy Fair: Postcards from the Big Top
By Pennie Hoover
December 1, 2002

According to Victoria Alden of Birdcage Books, attending Toy Fair means being on 100% of the time, because you never know whom you’ll meet. During her first Toy Fair attendance last year, she treated herself to a shared limousine ride and soon found herself chatting with the Vice President of Buyers for Toys R Us. “I was even able to convince him to come by our booth the next day!”

Rick Davis of Lights, Camera, Interaction, Inc, confesses, “We do 29 shows a year, and they are all trials leading up to the Toy Fair.” Last year they built a kitchen for their booth to display a wooden food-toy collection, which inspired many creative last minute improvements. “People were quite impressed when they found it was held together by duct tape!” chuckled Davis. “It’s exciting and a lot of work and you’re exhausted when you’re finished. The energy that goes into the preparations and the presentation creates great anticipation for us in seeing the reception we will get.”

Tom Wallace of Susan Wakeen, Inc., a doll manufacturer, says Toy Fair is his favorite show of the year. “Our customers know where we are. They can’t miss us. Almost everything we do is pink,” he says, referring to the signature pink curtains his company employs to attract attention.

For Tangle Toys, 2002 was their most memorable Toy Fair experience.

“We wanted to do something for the policemen and firemen of New York City, and their families,” explained Tangle founder Richard Zawitz. Tangle produced a limited edition Tangle Toy specifically for emergency services men and women. “Actually, many of them were there, walking the show, and we were able to give away almost all of our limited edition tangles directly to them at the show. It was very special to us.”

Advice for Newcomers?

“Get there early and leave late,” says Davis. He recommends pre-planning and prioritizing your daily schedule to make sure you achieve your goals. Try a Google search online and see what you can find out about what's new and hot, from special pricing and minimum order amounts, to product previews on items to be featured at Toy Fair.

Tom Wallace tells buyers at this year’s Fair to go in with confidence. “In this economic environment manufacturers are hungry. Everybody is serious and will do their best to satisfy needs.”

Tangle Toys’ Richard Zawitz, says a representative has two objectives at Toy Fair: captivate clients and generate leads. For buyers, he advises, “Look for new things that are different, exciting, creative, educational, clever, that hit you at the gut level, not the tried and true corporate stuff.”

For More Tips on how to Maximize your Time at Toy Fair, click here.


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