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from the G


ood news everyone, we can all relax: the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has pronounced that “the recovery has taken hold”. Well that’s a


huge relief. Of course, we all know that the state of the UK economy – and specifically its relation to toy sales – is a highly complex matter which can’t be summed up with a simple sound-bite. Nevertheless, it’s undoubtedly beneficial for everyone whose livelihood is linked to the retail sector to see positive messages featuring prominently in the media at this crucial time of the year. In fairness, this positivity has largely been


borne out by the majority of people I’ve been talking to over the past few weeks: thankfully, the grumbling which can sometimes emanate from suppliers and retailers at this time of the year hasn’t manifested itself to any great degree thus far. Each time I’ve found myself at close quarters with people from the toy community, the mood has been pleasantly – if cautiously – optimistic. No horror stories of cancellations or warehouse doors closing early (apart from a few predominantly nursery-oriented accounts): if anything, it seems that some retailers may even run short of stock in some areas. So with any luck we appear to be set for a respectable run through to Christmas. That said, it’s going to be late; there is little doubt about that. By the time you are reading this, I suspect there will still be plenty of selling to be done. I gather that some of the weekly NPD data over the past month hasn’t quite been at the level that people hoped it would be. But there is every reason to suspect that the consumer is simply hanging on in the hope of making sure they get the very best deals on offer. I’m told that as soon as a major retail promotion kicks in, the


publisher John Baulch - @Baulchtweet


sales graph veers sharply upwards (and vice versa of course). In fairness, we can’t really complain: in a way, we have educated the consumer to be patient, safe in the knowledge that – in the sales equivalent of Russian roulette – the retailer will always blink before the consumer. The weather taking a distinct turn for the worse has almost certainly helped. Several retailers I spoke to early in November were of the opinion that it had been slightly too mild and clement to put people in the mood for Christmas shopping. Perhaps that may even have been a contributing factor behind some of the lacklustre data? Hopefully the arrival of a cold snap in the middle of the month rectified that to some degree. Many major retailers have certainly been doing their best to get in the Christmas spirit as far as generosity is concerned – each week seems to bring news of another flash sale, half- price promotion or cyber event. The consumer is truly spoiled for choice, while the specialist retail channel must remain patient and wait for the big guns to finish firing their salvos before (hopefully) cleaning up in the last few weeks of the season.


As the industry prepares itself for the final push for the finishing line, many of us already have one eye firmly on the New Year. I’ve already seen some exciting new lines which will be launched in 2014, and I am sure many more will be unveiled over the coming weeks. We’ll do our best to highlight as many of these new developments as we can, starting this month with our preview of the Spielwarenmesse (or to you and I, the Nuremberg Toy Fair). It isn’t easy prising information out of toy suppliers in time to meet our deadline for this issue, but I hope we’ve been able to highlight a selection of new lines which will whet your appetite sufficiently. The Toy World team will of course be visiting Nuremberg, and we hope to see as many of you as possible during the show. Feel free to drop us an email if you would like to make an appointment for Nuremberg, or indeed Hong Kong, where I’ll be heading even before the


Christmas decorations have been taken down. Both shows have their own unique character, and both play a hugely valuable role in the global toy market, so I’m delighted that we’re able to play an active role in both events. I was honoured to be asked to join the Spielwarenmesse Trend Committee as UK representative, helping to shape the contents of its new Trend Gallery, which will be unveiled for the first time in 2014. And of course the Hong Kong Blog will be making a welcome return in the first week of the New Year. If it’s happening in Hong Kong, it will almost certainly be in the blog. Next month’s bumper edition – our Toy Fair


preview issue – will be bursting with even more exciting new products, so you might want to consider reinforcing your letter box and issuing a warning to animals and small children to avoid wandering beneath it at the end of the first week in January. It’s going to be an absolute belter – our largest and liveliest yet. There are even a couple of new regular sections which will be making their debut in this issue: I won’t spoil the surprise now, but suffice to say that we’ll be continuing to introduce even more compelling and original content into Toy World in 2014. This is our final issue of 2013, so on behalf of the whole of the Toy World team I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I’d also like to offer my appreciation to each and every one of you who have continued to support Toy World this year. We literally couldn’t have done it without you. I spotted a splendid billboard ad at Waterloo station a few weeks ago: it read “Imagine Downton Abbey without the ad breaks. You’d have to. It wouldn’t exist without the ad breaks.” In the same way that Toy World would not exist without the ongoing support of a loyal band of advertisers. Thanks to you all. May your last couple of weeks’ trading be stellar, may retail shelves be clean come Christmas Eve, and may everyone start the year in a positive frame of mind. Whichever part of the toy world we operate in, I’m sure we can all agree on that.


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