The following is a guest article by Kim Vandenbroucke. Kim is a professional game inventor (her latest published is Scattergories Categories) and she has agreed to take time out of her very busy schedule at this time of year to describe what it’s like to prepare for New York Toy Fair.
I’m taking a break from my insane workload to write this article for the fantastic readers of Purple Pawn on how I, as an inventor, prepare for Toy Fair. Well, for starters you have to understand that New York Toy Fair is one of the world’s largest trade-only toy and game fairs and it’s the most important one for products sold in the United States. If there’s one show a year I HAVE to attend to it’s New York Toy Fair. The show has been around for well over 100 years and for an inventor it’s one of the best places to get face time with existing clients, network and find potential new clients and see what’s going to be hitting store shelves over the next year.
During Toy Fair some of the bigger companies, like Mattel, Hasbro and Spin Master will have showrooms that are off-site or closed off to the public so you need to have appointments to visit them. But having an appointment when visiting any booth is a good idea. Why? See, when you’re an inventor it’s marked on your badge and since you’re not there to place orders, you must be there on some sort of covert espionage or theft mission. Truth is, most of us aren’t. Not only is it poor form to steal ideas because it’s WRONG, but also because the products you’re seeing at Toy Fair are usually ready to hit store shelves so you’d be way behind in the game anyway. Regardless, to make the most of my time at Toy Fair I make appointments with a lot of my major clients so I can show them new concepts in one of their tiny booth closet-offices and they can show me their product line without me getting shooed away by an employee who is focused on saving their products from my curious eye.
While making appointments is like a horrible puzzle because you have to leave time to run from one side of Javits to the other or worse—hop in a cab to meet someone at their hotel (not dirty, hotel product shows are extremely common folks!), the majority of my pre-Toy Fair workload is spent inventing. I sift through ideas I may have put off before the holidays or I might realize that I have nothing for a particular meeting and need to create some new product concepts. Most of the companies are already looking for products for 2012 or possibly 2013 but it’s not totally unheard of for someone to eek something in for the current year. So I invent…a lot. Over the years I have realized that bringing a book filled with one-page sell sheets makes travel far easier, but I need to have the games ready to ship back in Chicago so when I walk in the door I can send my concepts off to the interested parties. It means a lot of work with a tinge of guilt regarding how much time I took off during the holidays!
I hope that gives you an idea of what January is like for a professional inventor, back to work on my latest soon-to-be-blockbuster game! (or at least I hope!)
Editor’s note: I will also be at Toy Fair again this year, so watch Purple Pawn for reports from the show.
[…] Purple Pawn, asked me to write an article on how I prepare for Toy Fair. You can see the article HERE or you can read it below. Purple Pawn is a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the […]
Interesting post. I love reading Kim’s posts about her fascinating job.
Kim, I loved your comments about the assumed status of inventors being on covert espionage missions… if only…
How can prepare for the toy fair with at least five of my ideas? I am picking five in particular because I have rough working prototypes. would recordings of them being used by some to show on a tablet or lap top be good? how about some colorful portfolios? and how do you make the appointments and with who since this my first time doing this at a toy fair? I have done all this at the big bicycle shows but had lots of connections there unlike the toy fair where I know no one!
Thank You, Rodney Davidson