I am back from Dallas and packing for Shanghai for the China Toy Expo. It was such a pleasure seeing so many of you in Dallas and having a chance to chat. It is the people that make this such a great industry.
Here is my take on the Dallas Fall Toy Preview. Let us know what you think.
The numbers (I was told attendance was up 7% for the first day) say that this year’s Dallas Fall Toy Preview saw an increase in turnout. The experience, however, was one of sometimes empty hallways and deserted seating areas. Perhaps it is the result of so many closed booths spread out among so many floors; whatever the reason, it was a little disconcerting for the attendees with whom I spoke.
Did that make it a bad show; not at all? Vendors I spoke with had good meetings and seemed satisfied. Here is my evaluation:
I did not sense the high spirits that were abundant at the February New York Toy Fair. 2012 has been a tough year; business has been off and you could feel it when you spoke with people. I detected, among some reps and companies, a combination of weariness with just getting by combined with gratitude for still being in the business.
Having said that, one thing that did boost spirits was the hot Teenage Mutant Ninja license. I heard that one manufacturer has already sold out their entire inventory and the show just debuted on Saturday.
Beyond that I thought the annual cocktail party to be excellent with lots of networking fueled by alcohol and good food. In fact, I find this to be the most enjoyable party the TIA puts on and would love to see this replicated in New York. Why, because the price ($20) is right so it draws a crowd
Finding showrooms was far easier this year thanks to computer kiosks that were easy to use and friendly guides who were eager and available on every floor. In addition, this year’s directory showed all exhibitors so that was a big help as well.
In general, it felt like there was a little more innovation this year. I saw some interesting new products (can’t talk about them as they are embargoed); an expanded pallet of colors as well as some edgier licensing choices.
Now I am off to Shanghai for the China Toy Expo. From the land of cowboys to the land of the Mandarins; it’s going to be interesting.
And a special thank you to Rob Yusim who bought me a Winnipeg Blue
Bombers hat to replace the one I lost - see "Canadian Retail Sales Are
Robust; Target, Nordstrom and Other American Retailers Move North."