London and New York toy fairs going ahead as planned

The organisers of the London and New York toy fairs have both issued strong statements regarding their plans for the events, which are slated to go ahead this January and February respectively.

The Toy Association expects to safely host Toy Fair New York at the Javits Center from February 19-22, 2022.

“Hundreds of small and midsize toy & play companies, entrepreneurs, and inventors across North America depend on Toy Fair New York for access to the market and new opportunities,” says Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “Many have been looking to the 2022 show to help their businesses recover from the negative impacts of the past two years of the pandemic. While international attendance will be down, and some major players do not plan to be present, Toy Fair New York is still set for the second half of February.”

To ensure the health and safety of all Toy Fair attendees, New York City’s strict indoor activity guidelines and the Javits Center’s own policy requiring proof of vaccination for admission to events will be rigorously enforced. All who enter Toy Fair will be required to wear masks. “Our steadfast requirement for proof of vaccination and mask wearing was seen as somewhat controversial last spring and today provides confidence that all health and safety standards are in place,” added Pasierb.

The Javits Center, now operating at 100% capacity, allows for social distance and is among the safest venues in the country, having received the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) accreditation and with the installation of hospital-grade High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters (the entire volume of air within the building is completely changed five times per day). Toy Fair has been planned from the onset with wider aisles as part of its health and safety preparations.

“Our industry is one of creativity, human connection, and collaboration, which is something we all desperately need and want – and something Toy Fair uniquely provides,” said Pasierb. “Toy Fair and the Javits Center have the standards and practices in place to deliver a safe environment to gather in person, meet with customers and friends, conduct business, and enjoy networking. With these tools in place, the industry has the opportunity to utilize them.”

Given that no new Covid restrictions are being mooted for England, the British Toy and Hobby Association has released a statement regarding Toy Fair 2022:

“Over the past months and weeks, we have continuously been monitoring the government regulations and industry guidance in order to best prepare and work towards delivering a safe and successful Toy Fair 2022 for the industry.

“We are pleased to confirm, given Government has not changed the conditions under which the fair can take place, that we look forward to delivering a great Toy Fair 2022 at Olympia and to welcoming the industry.

“The current regulations allow for large indoor events like Toy Fair to take place with mandatory mask-wearing and COVID-19 status checks, which we will be operating for allparticipants. The requirements for anyone accessing the halls, including exhibitors, contractors, visitors and staff will be either proof of full vaccination, a negative PCR or Lateral flow test (within 48 hours prior to arrival) or medical exemption.

“We would recommend all participants take a Lateral flow test before entering the show.

“The health and safety of our participants is of utmost importance and hence we continue to track the guidance in order to comply with regulations. We are working closely with Olympia to provide a safe environment with enhanced cleaning, multiple hand sanitising stations and two points of entrance/exit to avoid crowding.

“We continue to recommend that exhibitors also strongly factor hygiene into their planning by regularly cleaning high frequency touchpoints and demonstration products, offering hand sanitiser to all visitors and monitoring numbers to avoid overcrowding on a stand. We would recommend participants make appointments to help avoid potential overcrowding issues.

“We would also advise in this exceptional year in light of the ongoing pandemic that exhibitors be prudent on expenditure where possible, especially in case the situation or requirements from government necessitate changes.

“Once again, we thank you for your understanding, patience and support during these difficult times and look forward to welcoming the industry to Toy Fair at Olympia from 25-27 January.”

Toy Fair NY’s Steve Pasierb | “Brands Untapped” comes to New York to Showcase Toy Brands and Licensing Partners

Many well-known toy companies have successfully built their properties into iconic global brands that can be found in almost every aisle at retail – spilling out of toys and games into kids’ apparel, backpacks and lunchboxes, cosmetics, school supplies, housewares and more.

As this phenomenon grows, toymakers are also finding creative ways of tapping into older audiences who are either nostalgic for the toy brands they knew and loved as kids, or simply embracing their own inner child, resulting in toy company relationships with high-profile partners spanning the apparel, housewares, food & drink, hospitality, live event, video game, film & TV, and publishing industries.

During Toy Fair New York ’22 (taking place 19 to 22 February), we’ll be celebrating and showcasing these important properties and licensing partnerships in the show’s innovative “Brands Untapped” area at the newly renovated and expanded Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. 

This partnership between The Toy Association and the team at Mojo Nation, who are dedicated to celebrating the creativity of the toy, game, and designer community, assures “Brands Untapped” will be an experience-rich, curated area that will feature multiple activations designed to showcase toy and game brand extensions, product ranges, and licensed interactions. 

An accompanying “Brands Untapped” conference will host talks and panels delving into design stories behind the extensions of well-known toy brands into categories like footwear, video games, and even hotel suites, allowing New York attendees to get an up-close look at the synergistic relationship between toys, play, and licensing – both within children’s product categories and well beyond.  

Our annual New York marketplace continues to expand and evolve to serve a growing range of attendees across everything play at all ages, importantly including licensors and entertainment executives. With licensed products accounting for better than 30 percent of US toy sales, the future is far more than the past’s licensed product stemming just from movies. All forms of content and digital-first brands (originating from streaming platforms, social media, esports, and so on) are having an incredible impact on the business of play, and companies are licensing their own brands and transforming them into household names, following in the footsteps of Barbie, LEGO, Hot Wheels, and many others. 

Each February in New York, seminars on licensing fundamentals, the latest global trends in licensing, and how to evaluate whether a property is ready for licensing play a vital role. The Toy Association’s trends team also tracks and monitors the impact of blockbuster movies, preschool properties, non-linear channels, and original IPs on toys, among other toy and play trends, and their findings will be announced at Toy Fair ‘22.

In addition to licensing activations, content, and trends via “Brands Untapped” and other programming, the global toy & play community continues to tell us they greatly anticipate returning to the Javits Center next February. There will be so much to explore and discover – and even more reasons to celebrate and connect with toy industry colleagues who are passionate about play and entertainment! We look forward to seeing you all at Toy Fair New York 2022. Visit for the latest show news.

New York Toy Fair 2021 cancelled as Coronavirus pandemic continues to cause uncertainty

The New York Toy Fair 2021 has been cancelled owing to the insufficient resolution of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis across the globe, the Toy Association has confirmed this afternoon.

The annual industry event had been moved from its Q1 February slot to a later date, scheduled to take place from May 1st to 4th this year. However, the US industry body has confirmed this afternoon that it will not conduct the interim trade show this year.

Plans for Toy Fair Dallas remain on course for October 2021 while providing an ongoing mix of physical and digital business opportunities for the industry will be the Association’s focus this year.

“Our foremost consideration is the health and well-being of the global toy and play community and setting a clear path forward,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association.

“We want to provide our exhibitors, retail buyers, and the larger toy and play community with certainty on important destination shows and the ability to take advantage of immediate opportunities through our year-round buying and selling platform.”

As uncertainty about the pandemic persists, The Toy Association remains keyed into what is possible, stating that it will be concentrating on its digital business offerings, before bringing the industry back together in person for Toy Fair Dallas 2021 from Tuesday, October 5 through Thursday, October 7.

The Toy Association is also looking ahead to Toy Fair New York 2022 from Saturday, February 19th to Tuesday, February 22nd in a newly expanded Jacob K. Javits Center.

Toy Fair Everywhere digital market weeks held throughout 2020 successfully helped toy businesses forge ahead amid the pandemic and brought in more than 3,000 buyers from over 60 countries, proving the global potential of the platform for doing business despite travel restrictions and different time zones.

This February, the digital B2B marketplace will further establish its position as the toy industry’s first and only year-round platform, making new business opportunities possible every day.

The Toy Association will also collaborate with additional prospective retailers throughout 2021 on virtual private product preview events, which in 2020 created new avenues for nearly 400 toy makers to get their products on shelves.

The next virtual event with specialty retailer Claire’s is scheduled to take place February 4th.

“These proven digital opportunities should continue to be a critical part of every toy businesses’ mixed sales and marketing strategy,” said Marian Bossard, executive vice president of global market events at The Toy Association.

“As we look forward to our time together at Toy Fair Dallas 2021 and Toy Fair New York 2022, the proof is in the pudding as to the potential of these digital tools and events to serve our members in reaching new audiences.”

The Toy Association outlines plans to move New York Toy Fair to May 2021

The Toy Association has laid out its plans to host the annual New York International Toy Fair in May 2021. In a President’s letter issued by the association and penned by Steve Pasierb, it has underlined its mission to ‘bring the industry back together as soon as it is safe to do so.’

The Toy Association has therefore set the date of the 2021 International Toy Fair as May 1st to 4th 2021 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.

“We have been presented with a window in the opening days of May and we are willing, ready, and able to put resources toward the show and any other projects that will continue to help members grow their businesses,” said Pasierb in the group’s official statement.

“When the time was right to provide a digital solution, we did just that by leveraging our existing technology to build and offer Toy Fair Everywhere digital market weeks. When the time was right to provide companies with private virtual preview opportunities with key retailers – TargetToys“R”Us Canada, and Meijer – we did.

And when the time is right for a return to in-person meetings, we will make it happen.”

In his open letter to the international toy community, Pasierb said the following:

While none of us can be certain what the nation and world will look like some seven months in the distance, we all need the promise of a future for the toy and play industry, a return to a degree of business normalcy, and to reclaim some aspects of our collective pre-COVID-19 lives.

The Toy Association’s trade events effectively and efficiently help members and the industry do more business more often, whether large- or small-scale. We canvassed our primary audience of retail buyers and toy sellers to determine whether they want us to plan for a May 2021 tradeshow. They said yes! We heard from them that the first few days of May have high potential, and the timing is relevant to specialty, long-lead, and mass market retailers. May serves specialty in time for Q4 2021; is well-timed for long lead and mass to conduct or complete Spring/Summer 2022 line reviews; and may even offer some early views for Q4 2022.

There is also a healthy slate of toy, entertainment, and licensed properties targeted for 2022 that need to be acted upon. As always, Toy Fair New York is a key opportunity for influential brand owners, licensors, licensees, retailers, and manufacturers to connect in the media and financial capital of the world, New York City. To be certain, this not the Toy Fair NY we have traditionally known as we anticipate smaller footprints, a different exhibitor mix, less extravagant if not workmanlike displays, and simply a focus on making the human and product connections that Zoom and similar substitutes have not been able to offer.

Protecting everyone’s health and safety remains paramount. We are right now working closely with every entity connected to Toy Fair, including federal, state, and city officials; contractors; and support teams, to ensure a safe environment. The show will be designed to reflect these proven approaches and will follow every prescribed health and safety protocol.

We understand that not everyone will be comfortable in an in-person environment, which is why we continue to expand our other digital engagement opportunities: Toy Fair Everywhere, which is rolling out its year-round version later this year, and the aforementioned private preview program with key retailers.

What if the situation does not turn in our favor in spring of 2021? If at any time we feel that Toy Fair NY 2021 cannot be produced in a safe manner, we will cancel the show. If the event needs to be canceled, as is the long-standing show policy, any monies paid will shift toward Toy Fair New York in February 2022, when it returns to the newly expanded and state-of-the-art Javits Center. In fact, almost all 2021 exhibitors had already shifted to 2022, so May again presents a more immediate opportunity.

Our community made it clear they did not want Toy Fair NY 2021 to simply become virtual. Rather, the connections, ability to experience products first-hand, and return to some form of human connection in doing business have proven to reign supreme. Together looking toward May with optimism reflects the very nature of the toy and play community – resilience, tenacity, confidence, and a willingness to find new ways forward.

The immediate next steps are the one-on-one conversations our account executives are having with exhibitors and the conversations our team is having with retailers and other members of the show’s audience. Much more news and specificity are to come. For now, mark your calendar and together we will do whatever we can to make good things happen in a safe, healthy, and business-building manner.

Funko launches new licensed board games, opens shop-in-shop with Hamleys and moves for the kids toy space

Funko has now partnered with Hamleys Russia to launch a new Funko shop-in-shop in the toy retailer’s flagship Moscow store – helping the firm step its international efforts up a level.

The partnership between the two titans kicked off with a launch party to amplify the shop within a shop model being rolled out in store this February. The Moscow shop-in-shop – also known as the Funko Zone, launched on February 21st to media and influencers, followed by a grand opening for the public on February, 22nd.

 Key press and taste makers took part in photo opportunities at the opening of the new permanent shop-in-shop, which plans to offer an immersive experience, allowing customers to experience and celebrate a world of Funko through a life sized Pop! box, large statues of Disney’s Maleficent, Harry Potter’s Hagrid, and a Star Wars Storm Trooper.

There will also be screen takeovers with Funko’s own animations of Disney’s Frozen and Star Wars.

 The space, which will be a tribute to the Funko stores in Seattle and Hollywood, will be home to new Funko launches including Loungefly (fashion accessories), Funkoverse (board games), a wealth of Pop!, and more, but to kickstart it all – will be the launch of the following Hamleys Russia exclusives; Overwatch D. Va Pop! (Diamond Edition), Cruella De Vil Pop! (Diamond Edition) and Pennywise with Glow Bug Pop!

 Andy Oddie, managing director at Funko, EMEA, said: “Launching a shop-in-shop in Moscow’s iconic Hamleys store is an absolute honour and a key milestone for us. The famous store and brand is the perfect home for a Funko Zone, bringing our pop culture retail experience to Moscow’s city centre.”

 Sveta Farnieva, brand director of Hamleys Russia, added: “Partnering with the pop culture giants of today to bring their collectibles and apparel via the vessel that is our store is just the beginning of amazing things to come. Watch this Funko space.”

Funko has been expanding its brand depth in recent weeks, culminating with the recent unveiling of the newest titles to emerge from its Funko Games umbrella. It was at this year’s New York Toy Fair that Funko Games, the board game group of the Washington-based pop-culture firm, unveiled a diverse lineup of games.

Among its first wave were the likes of Back to the Future: Back in Time, Godzilla: Tokyo Clash, and a new title making use of the Pan Am license.

“The Funko Games new releases span from deep strategy board games to collaborative family fun to quintessential party picks that are all rooted in clever stories, nostalgic pop-culture touchstones, and fan-favourite licenses,” read a statement from the outfit.

On top of this, Funko also used the New York Toy Fair as the launch pad for its debut into the toy category via its newest product line called Snapsies. Through Snapsies, Funko has developed a toy line specifically for the younger market, featuring patent pending snap-and-match technology which allows kids to add personalisation to a diverse lineup of characters like rock star unicorn Jett, super-athletic mountain goat Billie, and hedgehog Boe, the baker.

Eva Verhaak, head of marketing and strategic sales at Funko, EMEA, added: “We are ecstatic to launch into toys with Snapsies, a product that heroes friendship, creativity and being an individual.

“The fact this is intertwined with a new snapping technology makes it a unique proposition for retailers and consumers. Additionally, all characters were brought to life with beautiful animations created by our in-house team at Funko Animation Studios. Collectively, we can’t wait to see kids ‘snapping and matching’ away this year and building their collections.”

Snapsies  will be available in the UK this summer.