Toy Fair Dallas: Why You Should Feature Your Products in the New FutureCast Gallery
August 13, 2019 | The industry’s most innovative toys and games will be on display in a newly curated gallery at Toy Fair Dallas. Called the FutureCast Gallery, this retail-driven, experiential initiative, launched by The Toy Association, is designed to highlight the industry’s most innovative new toys and games in front of retail buyers and others exploring product at Toy Fair Dallas.
The gallery will be guest-curated by Steve Starobinsky, founder of lifestyle brand KID@HEART and an expert in product discovery, who will select the top toys submitted across 10 different themes – from Radical Sustainability and Grandparent-Friendly, to The Olympic Effect and Animal of the Year – that will showcase the future of the industry. Toy News Tuesday editors caught up with Starobinsky, who shared details on this exciting initiative and what it means for the toy community. Here’s what he had to say …
What excited you about getting involved in the new FutureCast Gallery at Toy Fair Dallas?
SS: I believe in the spirit of collaboration and that exposure is the key to raising the bar for the toy industry. Great products are being produced by so many interesting companies all over the world, and social media is helping the consumer find them before the retailer. With the help of The Toy Association, I wanted to create a platform that would allow retailers to explore new ideas, licenses, and products from companies that weren’t on their schedules. We plan to organize these products by motifs and themes that we are seeing as a result of important consumer shifts, and align these toys and brands to showcase products that will sell … not necessarily ones that we’re selling now.
How do you stay ahead of the curve on toy and youth entertainment themes?
SS: I travel to as many trade shows - both industry and consumer facing – as my schedule allows. I expand my thinking to not just toy but tangent industries like gift, comic, fashion, tech, and more. I also spend a lot of time talking to retailers and, of course, consuming content from YouTube, Netflix, and other digital and streaming content providers.
What do you predict will be some of the biggest themes impacting the toy industry in 2020 and beyond?
SS: I believe there are a number of themes that will impact toy sales in 2020. Streetwear is the biggest idea of the inclusion trend as a whole. Because of the decreasing cost of content creation, items and fandoms that we’re previously niche and couldn’t support a media channel or TV show, can now be exposed to new eyes and potential for new products. Think of the Netflix show, “Blown Away,” they filmed a multi-episode reality show about glass blowing, that really resonated and will ultimately inspire a new play pattern or toy. I believe the interests to warrant a toy are no longer “mass appeal,” just something interesting to a few, that spreads to the masses through social and streaming.
Another major issue is sustainability – the consumer is finally prepared to support brands that find way to not just make good products, but also are good for the environment. Green finally matters!
Why is the new FutureCast Gallery an important initiative for the toy community in general and Toy Fair Dallas?
SS: The toy community has become more connected, yet physically distant through the internet, still we crave to be together and share ideas in person. We want to feel visceral reactions and build on feedback in real time. At Toy Fair Dallas, this time together is vital for the success of our business, knowing more together and embracing the spirit of collaboration will fuel our industry’s innovation culture.
Companies that would like their toys to be considered for a coveted spot in the brand-new FutureCast Gallery are encouraged to submit products for consideration through Thursday, August 15. Toy Fair Dallas takes place Wednesday, October 2 to Friday, October 4 in Dallas, TX. For more information on hotels, registration, and retailers attending the show, visit ToyFairDallas.com.