Having kicked off with Top Drawer and Harrogate Christmas and Gift earlier in January, the spring trade fair calendar is in full swing for the UK licensing business.
While Toy Fair New York now occupies a new autumn slot, the return of Spielwarenmesse for the first time since 2020, plus the ‘must attends’ that are London Toy Fair and Spring Fair mean there will be plenty of new product, innovation and networking for the community to get their teeth into.
Asking Rebecca Deeming, communications and events manager at the BTHA, how important the licensed toy sector is to Toy Fair, her response is instant and unequivocal: “Incredibly important”.
Rebecca continues: “Licensed toys are one of the main drivers of the toy market so it’s crucial that we have a great representation of licensed toys and games at the show. This is something we strive for every year and Toy Fair 2023 really does have a great variety of representation for the licensed toy sector.”
Toy Fair is returning to London’s Olympia from 24-26 January and, as ever, there will be a whole host of exhibitors showcasing licensed toys on their stands. These include companies such as Just Play, 8th Wonder, Bladez Toys, Jazwares, Fizz Creations, Funko, Rainbow Designs, FOCO, Golden Bear Toys, LEGO, MV Sports, Orange Tree Toys, Posh Paws, Sambro and tonies among others, while Smiffys and Rubies will be flying the flag for the dress-up category.
“Licensing over the years has become a huge part of the toy sector and one that is continuously growing,” Rebecca (left) offers. “With the rise in popularity of licensed toys, the show has come to mirror this, which is only natural. There are peaks and troughs throughout the industry sectors, with some areas proving more popular and burgeoning in particular years than others, but overall, at Toy Fair we look to ensure that there is a good representation of all key toy categories.”
In addition to the stand showcases, Rebecca also highlights the Demo Zone as a good place to see licensed lines. Products are demonstrated to a live audience of children and across the big screens at the show. The Hero Toys showcase should also include a selection of licensed toys.
Licences are also firmly part of the portfolio for Spielwarenmesse. The show – which returns to Nuremberg this year (1-5 February) for the first time since 2020 – is “delighted” at the commitment of the licensing sector, with Christian Ulrich, spokesperson of the executive board of Spielwarenmesse eG (right), telling us: “Licensors, agencies, specialist retailers – the whole of the licensing sector gathers in Nuremberg in February. We are delighted at this commitment and we foster meaningful discussion through targeted elements of the fair. These range from product presentations and exclusive networking arrangements to the dissemination of knowledge.”
Spielwarenmesse has worked closely with Licensing International for a number of years and, as well as toy companies, this year’s exhibitors also include the likes of Abysse, Pyramid, Wonder (Amscan) and Santoro – underlining its impact across the wider licensing industry.
“Licences are everywhere across the entire exhibition site,” Christian continues. “Visitors can also enhance their expertise in the business of licensing: in the Toy Business Forum in Hall 3A, the LicenseTalks will be taking place every morning from Wednesday to Saturday. Here, international industry experts will be devoting themselves to the latest trends in licensing, highlight valuable examples of best practice, and providing tips for new entrants. A further highlight at the Spielwarenmesse is the LicensePreview, where licensors will have the opportunity to present their new products to selected business partners in an exclusive atmosphere.”
Christian also recommends taking in the redesigned ToyTrend World of Experience in Hall 3A, which deals with the ‘Brands for Fans’ trend. “This focuses on not only current but also retro characters from TV and film, for children and adults,” he explains.
Spring Fair (5-8 February, Birmingham NEC) encompasses 14 sectors within four destinations across eight halls – Home (including Living & Décor), Housewares, Everyday and The Summerhouse, Gift (including Christmas, Floral and Seasonal Decorations) and Moda fashion featuring its own Catwalk as well as Jewellery & Watch, Womenswear, Fashion Accessories and Footwear.
In addition, there will also be the newly launched responsible sourcing show, Source Home & Gift.
Licensing will undoubtedly feature across a wide range of sectors with some names to look out for including Wonder (Amscan), Blade & Rose, Blue Sky Studios, Burgon & Ball, Elf on the Shelf UK, Enesco, Fanattik, Fizz Creations, Half Moon Bay, Jardinopia, Mad Beauty, Museums & Galleries, Nemesis Now and Stor among others.
Elsewhere, the Inspiring Retail Stage has a packed programme of speakers including retail entrepreneur and TV Dragon, Theo Paphitis who will be delving into some of the current challenges facing businesses across the UK, as well as the opportunities that can often arise out of tougher trading conditions.
Helena Mansell-Stopher, ceo of Products of Change, will also be leading a panel discussion on new packaging legislation, how it impacts the retail sector and how to embrace the new wide-ranging packing requirement challenges.
This feature originally appeared in the spring 2023 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.