We chat to some exhibitors to find out why the two shows are so vital for licences.
Nowhere is the influence of licences on the toy market highlighted more than by taking a stroll down the aisles of Toy Fair at London’s Olympia and Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg.
The sheer breadth of properties – from evergreens such as Peppa Pig and Thomas & Friends, to super heroes and movie inspired lines, through to new brands from territories outside of the UK looking to make their mark lining up alongside the biggest licence of them all, Star Wars – both shows are perfect illustrations of how the toy and licensing industries work hand in hand.
“The impact of licensed products on the industry grows each year, and this is the same with Toy Fair,” explains Majen Immink, the show’s head of operations and sales. “Each year we welcome the hottest new licences showcased in a variety of categories and these are often featured in the show’s Best New Toys.
“Last year winners included licences from BFG, PAW Patrol, Teletubbies, Thunderbirds and Danger Mouse. With the continuingly strong PAW Patrol, Star Wars and super hero licences such as Batman and Marvel, and leading up to 2017 movie licences like Despicable Me 3, Cars and the latest Spider-Man, we can expect to see more licences than ever at Toy Fair 2017.”
The beauty, however, is that on show floors packed with big players such as Character Options, GP Flair, Golden Bear, Bandai and Hasbro to name just a few, smaller companies with licensed lines still get their chance to shine, especially if they offer a point of difference.
High Resolution Design (stand B65) is making its debut at Olympia this year, with director Joel Berkowitz describing Toy Fair as “the funnest, most exciting exhibition of the calendar”. The company will be showing its licensed London Underground, London Taxi Company and Royal Mail 3D plush toys, along with two new lines for 2017, Big Ben and British Heritage Car 3D plush.
The ambitious company has enjoyed strong growth over the past year, enabling it to take on more licences, as Joel explains: “We’ve taken on a major licence in partnership with ITV for the first ever Thunderbirds Are Go plush toys. We will additionally be showcasing Thunderbird 5 plush to the trade for the first time at Toy Fair. Another major licensing partnership launching at the show is for Pringles Can Storage plush.”
After dipping its toe into the water at last year’s Toy Fair with its Mardles ‘stickers that come to life’ brand, augmented reality specialist AliveLab is taking the plunge with its own stand this year (stand B85) and will be highlighting its Shaun the Sheep Mardles and Thunderbirds Craft Mardles with Playscene.
“Toy Fair attracts all the big buyers and lots of independents who are still invaluable and we love to meet them all,” says co-director Sharon Wyness. “It’s essential to build relationships, talk through the finer detail of products and key for us at AliveLab, meaning we can give real-time demos.”
Visitors to both the London and Nuremberg shows should also be able to spot licensees from other sectors which offer products that are complementary to a toy retailers’ traditional lines.
Danilo is taking a stand in Nuremberg for the first time (Hall 12.0, B-04-3) and will be showing its whole range, specifically licences where it has European rights. It will be launching new licences such as Shimmer & Shine and Horrible Histories, alongside a number of fresh lines for movie properties including Despicable Me 3 and My Little Pony.
Dan Grant, senior licensing manager, explains: “Danilo has seen growth year on year for the last five years, and with us having European rights against several brands it means we can start building sales across the European territories with key retailers who we currently don’t supply.
“There is a big opportunity for growth in Europe for our business and the show provides the opportunity to grow the awareness of the Danilo business.”
Meanwhile, for Pyramid International (Hall 12.0, A-09-1), Nuremberg is a huge show in the calendar, giving it the opportunity to show all its products across its primary licences such as DC Comics, Trolls, Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Beauty & the Beast, PAW Patrol and My Little Pony.
“We are very excited to be displaying for the first time our range of LEGO Batman wall art, the big screen revival of Power Rangers, our innovative range of Metallic posters and a whole host of products for the eagerly anticipated Despicable Me 3,” enthuses Barbara Krol, the company’s export sales manager.
“With a range as varied and visual as ours, it is important to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to see what we have to offer. We invite all our existing customers and give them the opportunity to see first hand just how great our ranges look, and importantly an idea of how they will look in store. It also allows Pyramid the chance to meet potential new customers.”
Meanwhile, Smiley will be waving the licensor banner at Nuremberg (C-09), showcasing its SmileyWorld and Smiley Baby brands, with a wide range of products across a number of categories from its partners. This will include toys and games (Simba Dickie will show new pocket money and collectable lines), gifts (Claire’s will add a new fruit-inspired lifestyle gift range which is debuting at the show), food, publishing, back to school, apparel and feeding products.
“We are committed to going the extra mile for our licensees, and helping them showcase their products to the trade under the brand umbrella is one way in which we can do this,” Lori Heiss, vp brand strategy, publishing & digital, toys, FMCG and promotions at Smiley, explains. “You don’t see many licensors at a show like Nuremberg which is traditionally made up of manufacturers, but we have adopted a strategy of supporting our partners with their business development in signing new deals by exhibiting at shows like this one.”
Lori adds: “Bottom line is we want to show our partners that Smiley is all about adding value to their bottom line and provide something nobody else in the licensing industry can. We also are keen to showcase our new licensing partnership with Rubik’s to the toy industry as a total lifestyle brand and there is no better place to do this than Nuremberg.”