The 118th Toy Fair brought play lovers from nearly 100 countries together to shop, explore, and see the latest trends and innovations in toys and play across the equivalent of nearly eight football fields filled with toys and games.
Uniting the global play community in New York City for the first time since 2020, Toy Fair, which took place from September 30 to October 3, underscored the creativity, business & networking opportunities, and exchange of information that define the industry.
“When the ribbon was cut to welcome the global play community back together for Toy Fair 2023, attendees were met with an experience that had been reimagined to encourage more engagement and interaction between exhibitors, buyers, media, and other showgoers as well as offer more of the targeted business intelligence our industry needs to succeed in today’s evolving, and uncertain, economy,” said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “But more than anything Toy Fair again emphasized what happens when the brightest minds in toy design, manufacturing, and marketing converge. Together, we craft more than just playthings; we craft experiences that shape childhood memories, inspire dreams, foster a sense of wonder, and bring families together.“
“It was terrific to be back at Toy Fair to connect with and celebrate the incredible people and ideas that make our industry so dynamic,” said Skip Kodak, regional president of The LEGO Group. “The energy onsite was electric, and we were especially thrilled to celebrate the LEGO Group’s recognition for products, people, and booth presentation. Congratulations to The Toy Association on a great event!”
Taking place ahead of the critical Q4 selling season, the show attracted thousands of buyers from mass, mid-sized, and specialty retail outlets spanning all 50 states and 74 countries and territories. These toy buyers, and buyers from ancillary industries like pet products, confectionery, and fashion, previewed and reviewed 2024 lines behind closed doors, while many also placed orders on ready-to-ship, trending items to stock shelves for this holiday season. From Amazon and Barnes & Noble, to Costco, Target, and Walmart, 23 of the top 25 toy sellers were in attendance and tens of thousands of products were on display by 1,021 exhibiting companies, including nearly 400 first-time Toy Fair exhibitors.
First-time exhibitor Candice Walsh, founder & CEO of Nug + Tater, said her first Toy Fair experience “was like opening the door to a world of endless possibilities. We were fortunate to share our company and products with thousands of people, and we’re looking forward to nurturing the partnerships and relationships that were formed during Toy Fair.“
Buyer feedback was positive with Debbie Dunkerley, global vice president of buying for Claire’s Stores, describing Toy Fair as an “inspiring show that offered a fantastic way to connect with current vendors, make new connections, and discover new opportunities.”
Sara Loiselle, senior buyer for IT’SUGAR, also added: “It was so exciting to finally have Toy Fair back after three years. It is so important to have a show that solely focuses on toy and play products. The number of exhibitors was extensive, and it was great to connect in person with colleagues and discuss current trends and products for the coming year. There was definitely an energy in the building that made this show exciting to be a part of.”
With licensed toys accounting for 30 percent of total global toy sales in 2022, according to Circana, licensing executives from Disney Consumer Products, Moonbug Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony Pictures, and other studios were on-site to scout new trends and forge licensing agreements with toymakers, further highlighting the symbiotic relationship between toys and pop culture. This synergy was on full display at Toy Fair with engaging, interactive branded experiences throughout the show. This ranged from the Elmo Slide flash mob at the Just Play booth to the world-premiere screening of a new Build-A-Bear Workshop documentary as well as Paramount’s sponsorship of the Toy Fair Press Center.
Toy Fair also welcomed 800+ registered global print, digital and broadcasts journalists, plus an array of top-tier social content creators, to attend and report on the latest toy trends. Media outlets represented at Toy Fair included ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNET, Good Housekeeping, and many more.
In addition to exploring an array of products designed for kids as well as kids at heart including skill-building toys and games, emerging tech toys, as well as classic playthings, Toy Fair served as a hub for exchanging ideas on the most critical issues and topics impacting the play industry. Toy Fair University’s lineup of programming addressed everything from toy safety and compliance, generative AI, toy trends, indie retail channels and social media, to designer- and inventor-specific topics.
Additional programming included Toy Fair Student Congress, which connected hundreds of university-level students with toymakers at the show, and the Creative Factor Inventor Day, which closed out Toy Fair by providing select up-and-coming inventors with the opportunity to pitch their ideas to top toy professionals and manufacturing partners.
The global toy industry will come together once again for the 119th North American International Toy Fair, taking place March 1 to 4, 2025 at the Javits Center in New York City.