Ritter's reflections on Toy Fair

by Mike Ritter
on 2020-03-11, 07:10:55

Late February every year representatives of many toy manufacturers and distributors descend on New York City for the New York Toy Fair. For the last six years I’ve been able to attend as press as a representative of Creature Cantina. Over the years I have reported on some of the products on display, helped with photography, or sometimes just being a third wheel not doing much. I like the latter the most. This year Bill asked me to share my experience of attending New York Toy Fair.

For those who don’t know, NY Toy Fair is the major showcase for many manufacturers and distributors of toys to pitch their wares. The toys on exhibit will be available later in the year, usually Christmas time, at a variety of sources, from mom & pop shops to Target and Amazon. Multi-million-dollar deals take place all the time. The press, including this website, attend and report back what they see. The newest action figures, the flashiest playsets, the lamest games. They’re all there. Some press take their reporting very seriously, some not so seriously. In the end, we all want to get our spin on what we saw out there. Thankfully Creature Cantina sucks and doesn’t take itself too seriously, so we have some fun while we are there.

Every time I tell someone I’m attending Toy Fair, they fall into two camps. The first, those who have never gone, think that it is so cool and say they wish they could go too. The second, those that have gone before and know what to expect, usually respond with “Where are we going for dinner Saturday?” They know that it is supposed to be work. It’s always great to see familiar faces every year.

Toy Fair is a massive event held over four days, taking place in NY’s Javits Convention Center. They take over the ENTIRE center and every part has displays set up by the many distributors. Some distributors, the major players in the toy aisle, spend lots of money on their exhibit space and have massive showrooms showing off their latest products. Others, either just starting out or only running a small operation, have much smaller exhibit spaces. But size doesn’t affect the love of their products. Often, for the major companies, they require appointments to be made and approved, or disapproved because your site numbers aren’t big enough. (Looking at you HASBRO!!!) Other smaller companies you can just walk up to and talk to their representatives. The first can be daunting, jostling for position and trying to get your 5 minutes of interview time. The latter can be a lot more fun. We’ll get to that soon.

Toy Fair has changed the last 10-15 years. Used to be many of the companies would go out of their way to get some positive press. Many would give away some great pieces of special swag. The last few years, you can tell the marketing budget has gotten smaller as many companies don’t give out any swag anymore. Displays used to be grand. This year I noticed they were a little smaller. Still some cool displays were there, life size Funko Pops, interactive toy testing, etc. It’s always fun trying out new toys and concepts.

This year I attended just Sunday, joining our fearless leader Bill Cable and intrepid reporter Steve Rensi in repping this site. Our small posse was joined by friends Yehuda and Ed. We (THEY) managed to remain professional most of the time, looking for all sorts of info to report on. We walked the entire show floor looking at all the vendors looking for anything Star Wars. Sometimes we found stuff, sometimes we didn’t. I’m sure you’ll read about most of these in their articles. Me? I was there to walk and have a good time. Thankfully this group didn’t disappoint. Some of my favorite highlights included Steve losing it while eating a Carolina Reaper Jelly Belly jelly bean. Super hot, super funny!! Don’t know what would make them create them, but I thought the response was hysterical. Bill tried one too and he said it was hot but not crazy. I thought Steve’s eyes were going to pop out of his head! Later on, we came across a booth showcasing some boxing game involving a wearable chest target and boxing gloves. Basically you hit the target and score points. Family fun! Well... Steve wanted to try it. Steve’s always trying stuff like this. A few years ago was the bubble sumo wrestler incident. Another year was the drone target practice. This year Steve was into the boxing, but you should have seen his opponent! An attractive woman in a blue dress. Steve is built like a bear! I worried for her!! But I have to hand it to her, she beat Steve! We were all laughing at the sight.

We continued walking the floor for the rest of the day, attended some late appointments, tried to sweet talk our way into some neat swag. But it was time to go. Eventually the show closed and we had to part our ways. We said goodbye to friends that we will see in August in Anaheim and see you soon to others closer near by. Overall, NY Toy Fair lived up to expectations. Long days, tired feet, good friends and great memories.





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