One of the things I enjoy most in life is bringing smart, interesting people together. It is particularly enjoyable when the people you are introducing are from distant parts of the world. It was with that in mind that I worked with LT Lam, one of the founding fathers of the Hong Kong toy industry and John Tong, Vice Chairman of the Hong Kong Toys Council, in bringing together members of the Hong Kong and US toy industries for an intimate dinner last week in Hong Kong.
We in the toy industry tend to be so focused on transactions or networking that we forget to take the time to just talk to each other…and that’s what we did. LT Lam and John Tong hosted our dinner and made sure we had great food and drink as we talked about the global toy industry; the past, present and future of the special relationship between the US and Hong Kong toy industries, how to bring the two industries in closer contact and how the Chinese toy brand can be enhanced in the US.
Not only did we talk but LT Lam brought some wonderful artifacts for us to admire. They were three original Bild Lilli dolls from the 1950’s. Bild Lilli was the precursor to and the inspiration for Barbie and LT’s company made her clothes. It was exciting to see and touch (very carefully) a piece of our industry.
Our group, which spanned the generations, included:
- Mr L T Lam, Founder Forward Winsome Industries Ltd
- Mr Samson Chan, Chairman and CEO, Manley Toys Ltd
- Mr Carter Keithley, President Toy Industry Association
- Mr T S Wong, Chairman, Jetta Co. Ltd
- Mr Michael Rinzler, President, Wicked Cool Toys
- Mr Y M Tam, President, Toys Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, Executive Director and CEO Full Champion Ltd.
- Mr Manuel Torres, Senior Vice President, Nickelodeon
- Mr Bernie Ting, Chairman, Hong Kong Toys Council; General Manager and Director, Qualidux Ind. Co. Ltd.
- Mr John Tong, Vice Chairman, Hong Kong Toys Council; Managing Director at Wong Hau Plastic Works & Trading
- Mr. Larry Presser – Vice President Sales Kids Preferred
- Ms. Kati Heljakka – Doctoral Candidate at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Dissertation on the relationship between adults and toys. Creative Manager at Tactic and Board Member of ITRA International Toy Researchers Association). (Kati is from Finland but spends so much time in the US that we made her an honorary American).
- Mr. Richard Gottlieb – President Global Toy Experts; Publisher Global Toy News
We plan to have future dinners so that we can all get to know and understand each other a little better. These are purposely small events but if you would like to join us at a future event please contact me at Richard@globaltoyexperts.com.