New York Toy Fair Review

It was our 17th consecutive year exhibiting at NY Toy Fair.  I couldn’t actually recall how many times we had exhibited at the show, but fortunately show management provides ribbons that indicate how many years each company has been exhibiting.  Quite handy little ribbons!

This was Outset’s biggest presence at the show to date - we expanded to a 20’ x 60’ footprint, and we had a contingent of 11 people to staff the booth.  While big for us, the booth was the perfect size.  It gave us lots of space to highlight our new puzzles and games, including our new Cobble Hill box design (more on the Cobble Hill redesign in a future blog).

It seemed to us - and to other exhibitors we talked to - that traffic was down this year.  This included some retailers from Canada who normally would make the trip, but cancelled this year.  That being said, we felt it was our best show ever.  The retailers who stopped were eager to buy.  People seemed to like our new products.  We had productive meetings with retailers, suppliers, sales reps, and game inventors.  And at the end of the day, it is all about quality over quantity.

And… drumroll please… there were no major weather events!  While there was a little snow on the first day, there wasn’t nearly enough accumulation to keep people away from the Javits Center.  In fact, the weather was so nice that I was able to get in two early morning runs, including a 16 km run over the Brooklyn Bridge.

What really struck me about the show this year was the sheer volume of new board games that companies were flogging.  Why is this?  While the toy industry grew 1% in 2017, the games/puzzles category outperformed the industry average, growing 3% (source: NPD).  While 3% growth in a sluggish toy market is good, the games/puzzles category grew a jaw-dropping 23% in 2016 (source: NPD).  It is likely that 2016 growth that has fueled the growth in new games that we witnessed this year at NY Toy Fair.  It will make for some interesting times, as the game market is now quite saturated.

There is no question that board games are hot.  Not only were existing toy companies introducing lots of new games, but companies who have historically stayed away from the category are introducing games.  And no more so than in the adult games subcategory.  This makes sense of course.  The adult games subcategory grew a staggering 267% during the first 6 months of 2017 (source: NPD).  But it does make you wonder how many Cards Against Humanity inspired games the market can really support!

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