It is February and that means it is the toy fair season. Between them, the overlapping New York and Nuremburg toy fairs are expected to draw tens of thousands of buyers, sellers, inventors, industry experts and press. While the aim of each is the same-sell lots of toys-the nature of these two shows is vastly different.
Early on, American toy companies realized the importance and profitability of entertainment-based properties, and as a result, toy manufacturers and production studios enjoy a much closer partnership in the U.S. than do their counterparts in Europe. European animated properties generally spin off from books, and the licensed products, if any, are usually developed only when the animated project has proven successful.
While strong cultural differences are responsible, to a large extent, for the dearth of licensed properties in Europe, action series such as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Power Rangers score consistently high ratings. The popularity of these shows though doesn’t seem to jibe with the lack of popularity of action figures. This year, holiday gift lists leaned towards stuffed animals, three-dimensional puzzles and board games. What seems to be the challenge in Europe is not how to win over the kids, but how to win over their parents.
Florian Haffa is a member of the board of EM.TV & Merchandising AG (formerly EM-Entertainment), a Munich-based diversified communications company.