Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Newbie Exhibitors @ The Big Show

For anyone serious about the toy and game business, the place to be each February is New York City at the TIA sponsored International Toy Fair. For the really serious players, the Javit's event is likely the fourth fair in a lineup that has taken them to Hong Kong, London, and Nuremberg. After another annual bout with weather elements, many attendees question the wisdom of holding the fair in NYC. They would prefer some other cavernous hall in Orlando, Dallas, or Vegas. To me, weather is not that important. Battling the elements only seems to occur between the hotel exit and the entrance to a Javits bound bus. What is important in February is not outside on the streets, but what goes on inside the Center along its miles of aisles.

Rain, sleet, snow are certainly irrelevant to newbie exhibitors who come to Javits with high hopes and higher expectations. This year, the TIA reported Toy Fair included 239 first time exhibitors.

2013 newbies, Rob Appelblatt and partner Tim Crean, unveiled a spin on the timeless light strategy classic game, tic-tac-toe, with a uniquely designed version trademarked as TIC STAC TOE TM. Like other first timers, Appelblatt spent hundreds of hours on product preparation and thousands of dollars on the Javits floor space, product samples, and a booth display to confirm strong personal belief in the game. He says, "family, friends, and co-workers all loved the game, but presence at Javits was a true opportunity for genuine, outside validation".

Four weeks after the Big Show, Appelblatt is following up on what he calls, "great interest from retailers, distributors, and potential marketing licensees for TIC STAC TOE TM." He sees the positive results as payback for the amount of effort and energy put into readiness for Toy Fair. That effort included molded parts, multiple prototypes, packaging, a YouTube demo, and even an APP. Appelblatt says, "We were forewarned by many that we had gone way beyond what a typical inventor would do, but I think this is one of the reasons we had such a successful show."

How to Play the APP

As he sorts through opportunities from Javits 2013, Rob Appelblatt offers this advice to newbies who may appear at Toy Fair 2014. "Trust and follow your gut instincts. That should lead you to the right decisions as long as you do your homework and constantly critique and challenge yourself. You will meet people who will give reasons why you won't succeed. Hear their reasoning, but don't let them get the best of you. Stay true to your vision but be malleable as you learn things from others that will greatly improve your chances for success."

Hopefully, Toy Fair was as successful for the other 238 first timers as it was for Rob Appelblatt. The play industry needs the annual infusion by start-ups making the commitment to launch their dreams in the aisles of the Javits Center. Regardless of the weather on the streets of Manhattan, they bring sunshine and smiles into hundreds of booths.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog about Appelblatt's new game. Actually I really like it and it looks fun to play. But the most important point of this piece is the "hope" you give to other newbies, to make sure they go to the Toy show. My personal location preference, as is most west coast inventors, is LV. More room, better accommodations and certainly better climate! Take care, Larry