STAFFERS BREATHE SIGH OF RELIEF
Annual Toy Fair Event Behind Us for Another Year
March 1, 2002
It's a time of sweat and tears, long days and nights, poor sleep habits and bad food. No, we're not a rock band touring in a van, we're McFarlane employees gearing up for Toy Fair.
For those of you not in the know, Toy Fair is a trade show held every year in February in New York City. Not open to the public, Toy Fair is for toy wholesalers, retail store buyers, the media and those involved in the toy industry. It's where we proudly display all our upcoming action figure lines for that year. McFarlane Toys has its own unique showroom and we provide guided tours by appointment during the Toy Fair event.
Toy Fair begins months before the actual event as a crew disassembles the previous year's showroom and begins designing and building the new one. As February draws closer, the artists and sculptors in our New Jersey office kick into overdrive, turning out two-up (double-scale) prototypes of all the year's upcoming figures in time to be showcased. Packaging designers lay out mockups like there's no tomorrow. Photographers churn out pictures, painters whip out the two-ups like Van Gogh hopped up on too much coffee. It's a madhouse, a creative stampede toward the finish line.
On the other side of the country, the sales and marketing machines in our Phoenix office crank it up, shooting out press releases and making sales appointments. Our licensing department works feverishly to finalize contracts. And the freak show we call spawn.com? Well, let's just say we all took courses in stress management in our efforts to get the online 2002 catalog, showroom tour and all the related Toy Fair coverage up and running before Toy Fair started.
The good news is, this year there were no fistfights, only two crying jags and a single screaming match. Wahoo!
Toy Fair officially began on Monday, Feb. 11, though we did begin taking accounts through the showroom several days before, dodging the people making last-minute touches to the layout. Once it was on, Toy Fair was a blur of appointments and camera crews and photographers and reporters and controlled chaos.
Todd was on-hand for several days giving interviews and attending meetings. Tuesday, Feb. 12, he held a press conference with Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson to officially present the Eddie action figures (Killers, already in stores and the Trooper, coming in August).
The overall response to our showroom and our lineup of figures for 2002 was overwhelmingly positive, even more so in years past. The various sports lines got quite a bit of attention, as did Tortured Souls 2, Movie Maniacs 5 and Spawn 22.
The comments heard most often were how tightly focused McFarlane Toys has become to its core audiences. Most folks also liked the new clamshell-style packaging we're moving toward for all figures.
Although the event was not open to the public, Steve Hamady, operations manager in our New Jersey office, opened the showroom on Saturday, Feb. 16, to a host of folks from the spawn.com message boards. This gave some of our most loyal fans the opportunity to see the showroom in person, hang out with one another in the flesh and see firsthand what we've got in store in 2002. It was pronounced a rousing success by all involved.
Now that Toy Fair is over, we all buckle down to actually producing the figures and the packaging, making whatever small changes are necessary and getting these things to the stores and onto your shelves. Oh, and maybe start looking forward to 2003!
For an online tour of our New York showroom and to view our 2002 online catalog, click here.