London Toy Fair 2011

Yesterday i got to go along to the Toyfair 2011 at Olympia with a press badge with Archie Productions and with my Cool Stuff Collective g33k t-shirt on.
Like superman :)
I was not there to film but to do a bit more research, meet some people and see how roving reporters and crews get things done.
I have been to a fair few trade shows, including lots of standing around on a stand talking about virtual worlds but I was not sure what to expect from a trade toy show. It was good to be able to head onto a stand and do a bit of promoting back on the TV show. It was also interesting the sheer number of PR people manning the stands. The ones I have been to tend to be the actual people from the actual company, close to the product. That was in evidence at the show but the huge corporate machines were in full PR mode. There were secret rooms, closed invite only stands and classification of how much of a prospect you might be worth talking too.
Some stands had character guards

many others had actual suited and booted bouncers. If your names not down you are not coming in. However a TV crew tends to alter that a little. A few places it was a hindrance as some pre-release toys and film footage was not ready for the press yet, only for the corporate buyers. An old trick about feeling exclusive, being let in (as we do with web betas). One particular secret door kept opening and closing so much that each time the motion caught my eye, I glanced across only to be scowled at by the bouncer. Very different the the playfulness of the toys around, but it is big business.
It was great to see such a big Moshi Monster presence though
Moshi
More Moshi Monsters
I was thinking back to 2007 when Roo and I went to see the very early stages of Moshi, and the various virtual world trade shows we had stands near one another. It is of course now huge, Roo wrote about it back then
One thing about the toy industry, like the game or virtual world industry is that no matter how straight laced the pitch is nearly everyone had that outlet to press a button and play with something. You can sit a look at a massive zhuzhu pet stand, analyse your profit margins etc but if you pick one up and press a button a scurrying hamster will raise a smile.

On the Bandai stand I saw a corporate tour but whilst they were quite serious they got involved testing the car that you shout at make it go.
There were some great character costumes wandering around as you can see

On a very small stand there was a suitably wavering Captain Jack Sparrow, with a big sign saying no photos. However he obviously needed a break at some point, stayed in character and wandered around the show, where he placed himself on the edge of the Gelli Baff (Bath goo toy) as it was filmed. This was one of the most bizarre and amusing sights.
Captain Jack Sparrow watches a bath of Goo
It would have been really amusing if it actually was Johnny Depp of course :)
I was also amazed to see Grape Escape reborn as Smashed Potatoes.
Grape Escape Reborn with Potatoes
Was it really back in 2007 I blogged about that ! and posted this video of Grape Escape in action.

My favourite things of the whole show though. Firstly was from Revell, it was the Leonardo da Vinci plans made into wooden kits. They have a great look about them and are very cool models. They are wooden but with the edges coloured it makes the 3d model look like the sepia toned sketches from the original gadget guru and inventor.
da Vinci models
Secondly lots of great toys and games, but very little in the way of video games/consoles or handhelds which was a surprise. The toyfair is a very physical product event in London at least. There were inklings of crossover products, obviously Moshi is an online environment but I saw a very interesting approach on the Meccano stand.
Mechatars is a range of robot radio controlled battling bots, that level up as you play with the physical toy. They can then be connected into a unity3d based environment where the levelled up stats are transferred. Playing online levels up too and transfers back to the bot. I loved the fact the world is called the Mechaverse too :) As a cross world principle this has so many ways to build up on the actual implementation and I look forward to seeing how this pans out.
Toyfair is on the next few days, worth a trip across

BTW if you end up on the Lego stand let me know what its like, we would have been allowed in but could not film anything.
Don’t forget to watch The Cool Stuff Collective as of this Saturday 9am ITV

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