Feb 19, 2010

Toy Fair 2010 Review!

The past few weeks were full of triumph and fatigue! I'm still amazed that I completed my To-Do list and didn't lose that much sleep doing it. Yay me!

The day of the Toy Fair started early. I woke up at 6:30am, ate a heavy breakfast, put on the cute outfit that I picked out, and applied some simple make-up that said, "Hello World! I'm ready :)" I was out the door by 7:30am.

I arrived at the Javits center way too early. I took this chance to shake off the morning jitters. I dropped my coat off at the coat check and freshened up in the restroom. I was ahead of everyone because after everything I did that morning [went to the restroom to fix my make-up, coat check, picked up badge etc....] there was always a huge line forming after me. So I knew that I was doing something right.

The convention I registered for (that had cheaper admission) was called Engage! which was a video game developers' convention. The badge had dual access to this and the International Toy Fair. I dropped by Engage! but they weren't ready yet... It was their first day of the convention so I'd imagine that everyone was still busy setting things up. The Toy Fair was already on its fourth day so I went there to mentally map out where things were.

The dork in me organized everything the night before. Knowing that 30,000 venders were going to be there, it was important to be organized! I concentrated on companies that were in my area and grouped them according to floor section. I love post-its!

Then I drew up a simple map of the general area of where things were (including the food court so I knew where to take a break). I have no idea how big the Javit's Center is. It wouldn't surprise me if its the size of two football fields. Its HUGE!

I actually got all of these ideas from my gamer boyfriend hehehehe. Like most boys, he plays all the first-person shooter games. I've absorbed some of the mapping ability through osmosis.

The Toy Fair floor was enormous! They had toys that ranged from the weird and wacky, to old-time favorites, to popular today. I immediately noticed that the trends seems to be heading towards green toys and toys that encourage physical activity. I actually didn't see that many action figures! There was a huge section devoted to board games. I was surprised to see a couple of booths dedicated to musical instruments for children. I grew up with a lot of music in my life and over the years I've felt quite sad that people aren't interested in things like this anymore. These days kids are growing up with American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and Rock Band. So who knows, maybe music is making a come-back. I was also happy to see some ukuleles over there. haha! (For those who don't know, I started learning the ukulele in Spring of last year).

Being a designer, I knew I was taking a risk going to the Toy Fair. Ironically, I was surrounded by toys but this wasn't a place to play. When I walked into the room, practically everyone was in a suit. I've entered the world of Marketing and Sales. Here's a tip that I learned a long time ago: If you're not sure where you're going, never under-dress for the occasion. Having listened to my own advice, I fit right in. I was mistook for a buyer or store owner four out of five times, which isn't a bad thing. It makes it easy to talk to people if you're on the same platform (or think you are).

For the most part, everyone was very nice. It must be the nature of the industry. I mean, how can you be upset if you're around toys all day? I showed around my portfolio and was happy to receive mostly positive feedback. As for the negatives... well, it was a tough room. Most people didn't want to talk to me because I wasn't a buyer. I think I downright confused some people as to why I was there. And some people were even mean to me. I didn't let that get me down because I knew it would happen. I told myself that this is a world of opportunity and there will be doors. Some doors will be closed and it is my duty to find the open ones. If had a terrible encounter, I just took a moment to think about how to do it differently next time. On a tangent, I was happy that this is an Olympic week. When things get tough, sometimes I think about those athletes. They train hard for years. They keep going even if they make mistakes or get injured. And if I hide every time I get injured, I'm not going to get anywhere. So I have to think like an Olympian.

Although the room was mostly marketing and sales people, there were also a few creative types present. I love talking to fellow artists! I don't know how to describe it, but its such a relief to speak to people who know how difficult yet rewarding it is to be an artist. Those rewards? Absolutely priceless. We have an ability to make things and hopefully inspire others.

I had the pleasure of speaking to some really nice people at the con like Andrea from Planet Ogie. She is just getting started with her line of super cute green toys. There was also Avram, from Flying Monkey LLC, who is an experienced toy-maker. I looooved his dino-inspired toys. I wanted to buy one but I had to save my money for lunch! He was super duper nice to look through my portfolio and tell me a little bit about what its like to be a toy designer. I also spoke to the lovely people at Two Animators who were at Engage! Actually... we weren't really talking about anything, we were kind of just nerding out about toys and art school memories. hahahaha

Overall I had a positive experience at the Toy Fair. Now I've reached the most important phase of my journey which is to follow-up with everyone that I spoke to at the Toy fair. I hope some doors start opening :)

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