I was not quite ready for the sheer size of the London Toy Fair 2017 at Olympia last week. It was just huge. Heading to London that morning, I had been really excited at the prospect of a day on my own wandering calmly, takeaway tea in hand, through the stands to see the new toy releases on offer. And, to be fair, that is what I did achieve but calm was not how I’d describe it in reality. It was more like a frantic race. There was no straight line. Just a mass of colourful, noisy corridors that wove this way and that – an absolute assault on the senses. It was just bustling with manufacturers and distributers, eager to promote their products to the retailers, buyers, and media. I realised immediately as I stepped through the door that, if I was to get around the entire arena, I’d need to step up my game and get a move on. Takeaway tea would have to wait till the train home.
I felt very much a small fish in a big pond as I stepped up to the first trade stand to say who I was. When I say ‘stepped up’…..I actually mean tripped up….witnessed by the lovely representative from Interplay who make ‘My Fairy Garden’. When I was asked (many times) where was I from? I mistakenly answered ‘Petersfield‘. Only after, on the train home, did I realise they meant Was I from Hamleys? Was I from Hasbro? Was I from a well known media brand? Hmm…..a lot to learn I feel. However, despite my initial shaky and overwhelmed start, I was soon power walking around the stands and efficiently asking the question that I really wanted answers for: What are the new toys for 2017?
I met some truly interesting people at the Fair and, boy, did I have job envy. Stall reps were only too happy to spend time with me, showing off their new products. I even managed to play a few new games with some of their managers.
My personal favourite had to be the Esdevium Games stand, mainly down to my own family’s love of board games (since discovered that they are based only 13 miles down the road from me in Alton so that’s another reason to like them). It was full to the brim with games, many of which I own, and I really enjoyed a discussion with their Marketing Manager about the games we both favoured from the display. You could see the realisation dawn on his face that I not only knew of the games but had played many of them and was equally as enthused about them as he was. In fact, I was able to tell him about one of the games they supply called Ice Cool as it was a game that he hadn’t yet fully played – score 1 for me! Lovely people and an awesome stand.
Vivid Imaginations was another stand that made a big impression on me. This was a media only display and, having talked my way inside (and blagged 2 free Pokemon lanyards for my boys), I was thrilled to be given a guided tour by their Marketing Manager. He spent a great deal of time going through their fantastic new toys for 2017 and his approach towards me really made me feel that he valued my opinion and interest. This was the last stall of the day and I no longer felt out of my depth, even if I did say I was from ‘Petersfield‘ instead of ‘Toy Discounts‘ – next year I will know better!
One last moment that I have to share was being stopped to ask whether I was the buyer from Harrods. Sadly, no. I can only wish.