The Annual Toy Fair and the Importance of Play
By Steve Griffith
I like to think of the trade show industry as a close cousin to show business. Some aspects of what we do on a daily basis make the analogy fairly obvious. There’s the hustle-bustle, mad dash of the production itself, of course. That is, all the behind-the-scenes efforts of a large crew working together toward a single purpose: the day of the big show, the premiere spectacle of the opening when the carpets are rolled out for the stars (I call them my clients). It’s with a wink and a nod that I sometimes point out to my team that, yes, the carpets are literally rolled out on the show floor for us when our opening day arrives, and sometimes they’re even red.
I also see a correlation between what I do and what I imagine an actor experiences when playing a character in a movie. Just as every role an actor plays varies greatly from production to production, so too varies the industries we as exhibit builders service. On any given day, you might find us standing shoulder to shoulder with clients in industries as wide-ranging as Food and Beverage, Finance, Military Defense, Medical, or Concrete. “You learn something new every day” could very well have been an adage uttered by an exhibit provider after a typical day of doing business. In any case, monotony is a word we don’t understand in my industry.
And this week is no different. We’re gearing up for the annual Toy Fair at the Javits Center in New York where the business at hand will be the business of frivolity. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for this show because it always reminds me of the importance of play. As professional adults, we too often forget to indulge our inner child, and in so doing we forget to approach our work with some measure of playfulness. I’m guilty of it as well. Too often I find myself placing disproportionate seriousness on matters that are, in reality, “small stuff” when put into proper perspective. I’m no expert in the field, of course, but I don’t think it takes a doctorate in psychology to understand that the act of play breeds creativity, enhances problem solving, and engenders a positive outlook (all qualities, ironically enough, that are critical for a successful professional working seriously in any industry). In a word, play brings joy. And if there’s one word I’d like to be able to use in describing what I do for a living, it’s that one, joy.
This year, we’re excited to be debuting an ocean-themed exhibit at the Toy Fair for Fin Fun. It’s a space that will be adorned with imaginings worthy of The Lost Boys: a shipwreck, mermaids, treasure chests, and a cannon. From design concept to fabrication, I know my team had fun playing with this one and it’ll be a great joy for me to see it on the show floor.
More About the Toy Fair
Sponsored by The Toy Association Inc., the 115th North American International Toy Fair™ will be held Feb. 17-20 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. It will feature more than 1,000 exhibitors from 31 different countries, including 158 first-time exhibitors. It’s the largest toy, game and youth product marketplace in the Western Hemisphere, according to the organizers.
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