For those of you who are worried that your need for branded goods from Hannah Montana and High School Musical will never be met: rest easy. I can report from the New York Toy Fair 2008 that there will be enough Hannah Montana plastic makeup kits and board games and karaoke machines to thoroughly decorate all the concentric rings of hell.
The other trend I noticed this year: no less than eight booths hawking testing gear and laboratory analysis to toy store owners and manufacturers. I demo-ed one hand held lead detector that was pretty cool. Instead of hiring washed up actors to deliver powerpoint presentations on the history of toy safety and blasting it over the PA, and PR teams to prowl the show floor, maybe the TIA or the CPSC should pop for a couple of these and, you know, pass ’em around.
One PC note: a majority of these booths were staffed exclusively by Asian men. I did not confirm that these gents were Chinese, but wouldn’t that be a Wharton School-worthy case study of creating a market and offering a solution? Could they not get together and handle this whole lead issue on the other side of the Pacific? Am I channeling Archie Bunker right now?
But my two least favorite aspects of the show have to be the “Game Center” and the Pink Plastic Sequin Explosion Booths. The “Game Center” is on the lower level, and it’s a cluster of booths where mostly husband and wife teams stands and pitch their board games. I break into a trot down the aisles of this section hoping to avoid “the look.” The We-Just-Took-Out-a-Second-Mortgage-to-Follow-the-Dream look. These poor folks with trepidation and hope in their eyes, having left the good day job and dumped the life savings into what they hope will be the next big thing. I know the look well.
And then there are the Girl Booths. About every fifth one is a complete Pinxsplotion, full of frilly costumes and makeup kits and every other thing a father of daughters needs to be on guard against. We have to stand on the barricades, on guard against the pinkification of girlhood.
Now pink on a dude…that’s perfectly cool.