The 69th annual Toy Fair returned to Olympia London last week, welcoming back more than 250 exhibiting companies and thousands of visitors from around the world.
The organisers report that the sold-out show welcomed just under 60 new exhibitors and increased its footprint by maximising the full space in the National Gallery to accommodate extra stands.
From the newest start-ups to leading toy brands, exhibiting companies of all sizes were out in force over a busy three days. It was the first opportunity of the year for many to network and showcase their exciting launches in front of buyers, retailers, licensors, media and the wider industry.
One of the top trends announced on Press Day, during the first morning of the show, was Nostalgia with Care Bears, Paddington Bear, Sylvanian Families, Wallace & Gromit and Sesame Street’s Elmo all making an appearance in Toy Fair’s Hero Toys winning line-up. With so many blockbuster movies and milestone birthdays being celebrated this year, it was also noted that the licensed offering from many exhibitors has increased. Also on Press Day, the NPD Group shared 2022 data from the toy industry which showed plush toys was the fastest growing category, up by 29%, driven by Squishmallows, Ty and Bluey. Toy sales to kidults increased share to 28% of total toys in the last 12 months.
After a packed press briefing and busy first day at the show, Toy Fair was broadcast live on Sky News and BBC regional radio stations as well as receiving plenty of print coverage.
Thursday was a dedicated Influencer Day when more than 100 influencers attended, driving social engagement. Toy Fair TV and the Demo Zone also returned for 2023, with presenters Anna Williamson and Gavin Inskip roaming the halls, discovering the hottest new toys.
Majen Immink, director of Toy Fair, commented: “Toy Fair 2023 has been a fantastic start to the toy calendar year. It has been lovely to see a packed show of exhibitors and top-quality industry visitors fill the halls and there has been a real buzz around the show. We wish everyone the best for 2023 and look forward to seeing you all back in 2024 for our 70th show.”
New exhibitor Brea Brand from Connetix said: “This year was our first time exhibiting at Toy Fair and it’s been wonderful. We have been inundated with new retailer connections as well as meeting current connections in person for the first time. To top it all off, we won the Best Stand Award for self-build stands which we were ecstatic about. We can’t wait to return next year.”
Meanwhile, returning exhibitors were equally fulsome in their praise for the event. Katy Fletcher from Ravensburger said: “We’ve had an outstanding 2023 Toy Fair; the calibre of meetings has been exceptional and the reception we’ve received for the launch of our Disney Lorcana trading card game has exceeded even our own expectations.”
Playmobil returned for the first year after Covid and Adam Moore enthused: “What a great opportunity to showcase our full product range. The show is a key tool for us to meet face to face with key retail and marketing representatives. Highlights of the show were the character parade and winning a Hero Toy.”
“Toy Fair 2023 has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase our new Wallace & Gromit kits,” said Jason McKenzie from Build Your Own (Paper Engine). “They have been incredibly well-received, and we’re thrilled that the Wallace & Gromit Rocket was a Toy Fair Hero winner. We can’t wait to return in 2024.”
Zapf Creation UK also said it was wonderful to be back. “The whole team at Zapf Creation has been delighted to showcase all our exciting new product launches,” explained Kasia Leskow. “It’s been a pleasure to hear all the glowing feedback from buyers and press alike.”
Team Toy World had a busy and successful show and would like to thank everyone that had meetings, chats or ‘refreshments’ with the team.
Becky Matthews from Golden Bear summed up the feeling of many: “There really is nothing like the magic of London Toy Fair.”
Applications for Toy Fair 2024 will open in March 2023 on the Toy Fair website www.toyfair.co.uk.