For a guy with an apartment cluttered with classic metal toys, quirky objects and offbeat street finds, the annual Toy Fair held at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (this year from February 14th - 17th) is both a celebration and a torture. With over 1200 exhibitors filling 345,000 square feet of exhibit space, and 100,000 products will be displayed (with over 7,000 never before seen in the world), the 30,000 attendees expected will find it nearly impossible to check out, let alone try and hopefully acquire, a decent portion of the goodies available. At least I know I won't -- though I will try.
Within these four days, toy manufacturers, buyers, retailers and sundry other professionals, under the Toy Industry Association (TIA) auspices, will try to do an entire year's worth of business under one roof. Meanwhile, a stalwart toy aficionado can not only find the classics -- such as Monogram Models or metal cars and classic Gund Teddy Bears -- but also the quirky; and for one who is also a professional trend seeker, the latest innovations in technology, geek cutting edge and geo-political subject matter that inspires deep-minded board games can be found as well. Over the years, I've seen robotic dolls introduced, Ebola-infected teddy bears unveiled and economic collapse simulated and replayed in virtual reality at the annual Toy Fair gaming section.
So, that's why I make it my mission every year to spend at least a two full days at Toy Fair. I discovered the Ugly Dolls there, met co-creator David Horvath and got him to sign the doll he gave me. I became a fan of the new crop of alterna-toys -- things like Emily Strange or the StrangeCo aliens or the ScareBears and the Bloody Goths from Bleeding Edge Toys. In the last 10 years, these collectibles have emerged as part of the overall expanding adult collectible market. But that's hardly all that new in toy trends.
Over at the Chelsea Piers tonight, John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer Walt Disney/Pixar Animation Studios and Sam Walton, Founder, Walmart will be inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. Established in 1984, the Hall of Fame has an impressive roster of 55 individuals who have been previously honored for their significant contributions to the growth and success of the toy industry. They are nominated by the industry at large and selected based on votes received from Toy Industry Association's membership.
And during the four days that the 107th Fair is held at the Javits there will a series of special events such as the "cast of characters" parade and ribbon cutting ceremony in the Crystal Palace at 10 am on Sunday - a whimsical start to the high-powered business opportunities at this show. There will be a Growing Green: A Toy Industry Update on Environmental Sustainability and Bottom Line Growth session taking place at 3:00 pm on Monday. And on the closing day, The Toy Bank will collect donations to be given to critically ill, abused and abandoned children through various partner organizations such asThe My Stuff Bags Foundation, The Boys and Girls Clubs and Ronald MacDonald House.
For more info go to: http://www.toyassociation.org