Nuremberg Toy Fair Review

This was our 6th consecutive year exhibiting at the Nuremberg Toy Fair.  It finally feels like we are making some significant progress on the international side of our business.

We exhibit at 8 tradeshows in Canada and 21 tradeshows in the United States.  At these tradeshows, the goal is to meet with retailers, and show them our board games and puzzles.  But Nuremberg Toy Fair is different for us.  At this tradeshow, we are only interested in meeting with distributors (rather than retailers) as it isn’t economically feasible to ship to individual retailers outside North America.

Here are my top 6 highlights from Nuremberg Toy Fair:

Highlight #1

We added distributors for Cobble Hill Puzzles in Denmark, Hungary, and Italy.  This increases the worldwide distribution for our puzzles to 14 international markets - the other countries being Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Holland, Israel, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, and Russia. 

Highlight #2

Until now, we haven’t had any real interest in our games from German distributors.  Distributors from other countries have been interested of course… but never any from Germany.  That changed this year.  We actually had interest from four different German distributors.  Why is this exciting?  Germany is the granddaddy of all countries when it comes to board games - they are quite particular about their games.  I will post an update on my blog if anything comes to fruition with any of these German distributors.

Highlight #3

Last year we licensed two floor puzzle images to a distributor in Israel.  During their visit to our booth, they updated us on their first year sales numbers - they sold over 4,200 copies of Map of the World and 3,900 copies of Noah’s Ark.  Why is this so amazing?  The population of Israel is only 8.5 million, and they sold more of both floor puzzles in Israel than we did in Canada over the same period!

Highlight #4

Last year we signed our first international licensing deal for the Professor Noggin’s card games, to a distributor in Hungary.  We met with them as well.  They are happy with the numbers, and will be increasing their SKU count by 4 titles, and will now carry 12 titles in the line.

Highlight #5

Nuremberg Toy Fair is a 6 day show, and that 6th day has always been dreadfully slow.  What makes it more challenging is sitting around an empty booth knowing that a pile of paperwork is growing and growing back at the office.  This year, the tradeshow was shortened to 5 days.  What a difference it made.  The last day was actually productive.  Next year’s dates are already published, and it will be 5 days again next year.  Yipee!

Highlight #6

The biggest highlight for me was being invited by our friend Paul Laing (from Cheatwell Games) to attend the opening of the J.W. Spear & Sons games archive, which will henceforth be housed at the Nuremberg City Museum.  The iconic game company was founded back in 1879 just outside Nuremberg.  Prior to World War II, most of the Spears family fled Germany and opened a second factory in Britain.  In 1955, the company famously acquired the international rights to Scrabble, and in 1966 the company went public (eventually being acquired by Mattel).  Being able to see and touch the thousands of vintage games from the archives was fascinating (including a geography trivia game from 1912, which was oddly challenging).

It was definitely our most productive Nuremberg Toy Fair.  We made lots of good contacts, met interesting people from around the world, ate far too many little sausages, and spent too much money on hotel rooms.  While the North American market will always be our most important market, it is fun to see our international presence taking shape!