If you go down to the Toy Fair to play….
… you’re in for a fabulous day
Last week I attended my…. ooooh… fifth? sixth? Toy Fair while DKL had a stand there for the 854th* time, it being a staple event in the Toy Retailer calendar. I went along, not only to wax lyrical about toys in general but this year I helped wield the new Instagram account for DKLtoys. You should follow us, we have LURVERLY plans.
Since it’s return to Olympia (I love that part of London) the Toy Fair has felt really buoyant and exciting; this year, from the moment I arrived and saw 3 huge Lego models, I had a good feeling. There was MUCH more innovation on the stands this year; after an austere few years of what felt to me (Merry’s opinion, not DKL ) like very same-y toys across much of the ranges available on the hundreds of stands as people cut back and conserved costs, this year saw a real fight back. Each stand looked different, everyone had something new to tempt and excite and everyone seemed upbeat. I’ve been going to the Toy Fair since I was a real novice in the toy world but it was great to feel that people had heard the call for different, challenging, educational but fun toys with multiple uses, good storage and ethical materials. There was much good.
For me, genuinely and without bias, it was Wonderworld that stole my wooden toy heart this year; I think it has undergone the biggest revolution in terms of a wooden range of anything I’ve seen. The quality is as lovely as ever, there is more diversity and it is one range which doesn’t just follow what everyone else is doing. This year it has truly struck out and DKL have brought in more products and explored areas of play that wooden toys haven’t seen innovation in for a long time. I got a sneak preview a week before and it lit up my heart to see something different, beautiful and exciting. I adore the Trix Track and was chuffed to bits to see the new Peekaboo Balls too. Yes we now have a pink one to go with the long standing and highly popular blue one – but hurrah for the gender non-specific green!
I’ve seen gender neutral clothing and accessories creeping back into the high street far more this year. When I had my younger 3 girls, it was nearly impossible to find non-pink clothing – buying for a boy, I’m now more able to buy primary coloured items. It’s good to see this re-emerging in the toy market after a stand by the ‘Pink Stinks’ campaigners (though I imagine budgets play a large part!) There will always be a place for girl and boy toys, different children and genders play differently, but it is not necessary to have pink and blue of everything. There was less of that and more bright, cheerful primary colours and even subtle, neutral colours on offer this year.
It was press day (I believe some bloggers and their children were in attendance; let us know if you went?) and our very own Toyin was up on the demonstration area. She let us have a photo, even though she is now famous
Yet again, there are some wonderful new Hama Bead products. I’m not sure I’m ever going to have a brand I love more than Hama and I got a bit excited to see some AMAZING Disney mini beads this year, Pocket Hama and more besides. Plus, after all these years, I finally got to hobnob with a Head Hama bead herself
Corolle have updated their ranges to celebrate their French origins this year, reverting to full French titles for many of them. The longstanding Tidoo doll is now “Bath Baby” which probably makes a little more sense, since that is exactly what she is. Look at all those little beauties tucked up alongside pretty little Calin
So there you have it. This years Toy Fair showed me that toys are once again showing diversity, innovation and exciting play and craft opportunities. As a parent I was delighted by some of the difference on offer and as a retailer I was hugely encouraged by some of what I heard and saw too. It’s going to be an exciting year
*Okay, maybe not quite that.