Hong Kong Toy Fair Review

We just returned from our annual pilgrimage to the Hong Kong Toy Fair.  There must be something about me and travelling to Hong Kong, as once again the flight to Hong Kong was delayed, this time for 4 hours in Vancouver.  But I think it builds up the anticipation and excitement!  Plus, after reading toy expert Richard Gottlieb’s blog and his delay at JFK airport for 18 hours, my delay doesn’t sound so bad (even though there was another 3 hour delay on the return trip).

This year marks our 6th time attending the tradeshow - and as always, we had a great time.  Normally we attend tradeshows as an exhibitor.  However, in Hong Kong, we always attend as a buyer.  But this year, we tried something new.

For people unfamiliar with the Hong Kong Toy Fair, the tradeshow itself runs 4 days, and is held every January at the impressive Hong Kong Convention Centre.  The convention centre is located on the island of Hong Kong.  There are only a few companies from the United States and Europe that exhibit, with the majority of exhibitors being Asian suppliers.  This year there was only 1 exhibitor from Canada and 16 exhibitors from the United States.  Whereas, there were over 800 exhibitors from mainland China, and over 900 exhibitors with their head office based in Hong Kong.  That’s quite a difference!

During this time (and during the week before the tradeshow begins), toy companies from around the world also open private showrooms in offices and hotel suites.  This occurs in the Tsim Sha Tsui area of Hong Kong, which is a short ferry ride (and even quicker-but-less-interesting subway ride) from the convention centre.  This is where most of the larger North American and European companies exhibit.  These showrooms are private and by appointment only, which keeps everyone’s hot new products secret for just a little while longer.

I mentioned above that this year we tried something new.  This year we opened our own showroom in Tsim Sha Tsui.  Our showroom was located in the Houston Centre, which is an office tower in the heart of the toy district.  While our schedule was light, we did book appointments with retailers, suppliers, international distributors, and even some game inventors.  This included appointments with three Canadian-based retailers.

For anyone thinking of attending, Hong Kong is a wonderful city to visit.  Most people speak English, the restaurants are excellent, and it is an incredibly easy city to navigate.  The weather in January is usually excellent (the city did set a record-low one day this year at a completely acceptable 9°C).  And, as I am reminded at every street corner, it is an excellent place to get a tailored shirt (I have yet to do so).

If you are thinking of attending next year, and want some feedback or suggestions, let me know.

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