Spring Fair Round Up

My 2 days in Birmingham saw Sunshine, Rain, Sleet, Hail, and Snow; the ironically named ‘Spring’ Fair took place last week.

For those that don’t know it is a 5 day show for non food suppliers to the retail and wholesale sector exhibit their wares; with over 3000 exhibitors and over 1000 brand new products it’s a bloody big show! The main event of the year for many sectors, and the light at the end of the tunnel for those in the toy trade who have already done Hong Kong, London, and Nuremburg Toy Fairs and by now will be in New York.

So… Toys and Party have their own Hall (all grown up now, with its own place)and Spring Fair has had a massive change around, creating the funny sight of people walking about with their noses in the show guide and not looking where they were going (there were a few weeble moments to make me giggle).

Most in the Toy and Party hall were delighted with their new space and the fact that the sector had finally received the recognition of a dedicated hall. Position however was a different story (isn’t it always?)

“Too far away from the gift hall, we only do this show to see the gift buyers and they aren’t coming here”

“We were told that we were not allowed to show ANY of our non toy product here which we adhered too, but one of our competitors on the non toy side is allowed in here and we are now loosing out”

“We are surrounded by the wrong kind of companies”

“It feels a bit soulless and boxy, not a very welcoming hall with lots of closed stands”

(Along with the usual “the show is a day too long” and “this feels like a show too far”

The one that worried me!  The one that I have not really experienced before … “where the hell is everyone?” Weather hindered Spring Fair? Is there an opportunity to move the show by a couple of weeks to avoid snow problems? If nothing else Spring Fair it would certainly mean less moaning for me to listen to about weather!!

I certainly felt that the NEC show lacked some of the buzz of London Toy Fair and people were less buoyant but you know what people this is a different show to Toy Fair and we should view it with different eyes and a positive attitude – easy for me to say I know when I am only there for 2 days, mind you 2 days in those shoes has to be worth 5 days in flats!!!

The bringer of the Buzz (apart from me) was Pete Jenkinson; Toyologist and his fantastic Toy Demonstration area. Pete worked really hard and brought some much needed life to the show! Worth a mention at this point are the guys from Bladeztoyz for their fantastic product demonstrations (words cannot explain how much I need a remote control R2D2 in my life, my favourite Star Wars character).  John Baulch from ToyWorld and Jez Fraser-Hook from NPD  for top information giving, and a special shout out needs to go to Kiddimoto and BB Tradesales for some fantastic heckling!!! Pete can be contacted  at peter@toyology.tv See what he can do for your toy business, it’s only an email and he assures me all his ideas are free!

I would like to take the opportunity to praise the NEC for keeping everywhere so lovely and warm throughout the day, even when walking between halls. It cannot have been an easy task given the low temperatures outside! But… what was going on with the WIFI?? Unable to check my emails and tweet, my facebook friends thought I had suffered a terrible accident! I was not alone, there were lots of people unable to do what they wanted to when they wanted to do it; all in all the NEC is a fantastic venue for a very big show and I had a great time; fantastic products, fantastic industry, fantastic people!!!

So many great products and companies… thanks for my biscuit and coffee breakfast at Wilton Bradley (great stand), brilliant product from Thumbs Up! (well done on your award for the dancing cat), CartaMundi, Click Distribution, Jumbo Games, BigJigs (Carol, thank you for all your help), Green Board Games (hope you didn’t get in too much trouble for your stand issues), Winning Moves and Gear 4 Games for excellent catch ups, and Content & Calm for the TrayKit backpack (road testing this week, blog to follow), Jez Robinson on Bluw for keeping me grounded, Rob Willis (of course) and everyone who I met.

So Spring Fair done for another year and good luck (may the force be with you) to those now in the Big Apple for New York Toy Fair. For some no more trade shows until Autumn Fair in September and for others? See you at Play At the Park, The Gadget Show Live (I’m really looking forward to this one) and Harrogate Nursery Show.



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