President’s Letter – 2nd Annual Play Fair Delivers Brand-Building Fun for Families & Toy Fans

Play Fair LEGO boothThey came. They played. They fell in love!

Kids and families absolutely loved the second edition of Play Fair – The Toy Association’s dedicated business-to-consumer event designed to help our members further build their brands by connecting directly with kids and parents. Held November 4 to 5 at the Javits Center in New York City, Play Fair 2017 expanded to more than 230,000 square feet of space – three times its previous size – bringing together toy and play fans of all ages under one roof for countless memorable experiences with their favorite toys and brands.  And, during the most valuable time of the year.

We kicked off the weekend on Friday evening with a private media preview and announcement of the 18th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Award finalists, setting the stage for the fun to come. The 122 TOTY finalists were on display during Play Fair, with parents and kids stopping by to check them out and start putting together their holiday shopping lists.

Saturday morning, Play Fair opened to a cheering crowd and didn’t let up until the show closed on Sunday evening. The immersive event included hands-on exhibits and larger-than-life play experiences from 70 toy and children’s entertainment companies, including a Minecraft VR station, NERF arena, augmented reality Ben 10 experience, K’NEX building area, Spin Master experience, builder demos with Magformers, an ALEX® SPA experience, giant LEGO brick piles and race ramps, live unboxings, Jedi Training with Empire Saber Guild, a Shopkins Fashion show, countless photo opportunities, and so much more.

Social media was alive all weekend, with families posting photos and videos of their Play Fair experiences across a range of platforms. Bloggers discovered new products to promote. Television, radio, and print media sparked to kids and families at play with hot new toys before the holidays, with hundreds of outlets carrying the story. Together, we delivered a powerful message to the public about the joy of toys and value of play.

Our industry’s own Genius of Play initiative engaged kids with several fun play activities, each one tied to one of the six key benefits of play. While kids were busy playing, Genius ambassadors had the opportunity to talk with parents about the critical role of play in their kids’ development. Meanwhile, a young lady by the name of Maddie Rae and 80 friends shattered the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest slime, producing 13,820 pounds of purple slime on-site! They beat the previous record by more than 3,000 pounds.

It wasn’t all just fun and slime, there was a serious business side to all this. Formal survey results from those in attendance are coming in extremely positive.  Eighty-six percent said they will use what they saw at Play Fair to determine some of the gifts they will purchase this holiday season! And, when asked, “Did you or your family discover any new toys or characters at Play Fair that you don’t already play with or watch?” 75 percent responded “yes”! 

I’d like to thank presenting sponsors, Spin Master and Toys“R”Us, a range of great Toy Association members who were there to bring the magic of toys and play to life, our partners at LeftField Media, and the countless individuals who helped make the move of Play Fair to the requested pre-Black Friday timing such a success. Because of you, families and fans turned out in droves, connected with your products and brands, and made memories to last a lifetime.  Or, at least until next year’s Play Fair, which will take place November 3 to 4, 2018.

With our 115th North American International Toy Fair now on the horizon, even busier times are ahead – but certainly all for good! Looking forward to seeing you all in February at the largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, where new toys, play experiences, and trends will come to life.

All good wishes,

Steve Pasierb
Follow me on Twitter: @StevePasierb