The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

5:08pm on Saturday, 29th January, 2005:



I went to the British Toy Fair today. I've been going for a several years now, but I may not bother next time; it was never all that relevant to me, and this time round was the worst yet. There were no computer games companies there, few distributors willing to talk to independents, even fewer component manufacturers, and no role-playing games unless they were hidden in the Hasbro stand (entrance by invitation only). Bah!

Brands were big, consisting mainly of tie-ins ("Star Wars"), lookalikes ("Can you win a Million?" rather than "Who wants to be a Millionaire?"), established brands ("Barbie") and some pay-to-use-the-name stuff ("University of Cambridge" science toys). Brands were applied to collectibles, models, games, toys — pretty well anything.

Other things there were more of this year: jigsaw puzzles, track toys (racing cars, train sets), wooden toys.

Other things there were fewer of: baby toys, plush toys, hopeful one-off game inventors, booth babes.

There was also no "best of show" showcase, unless it was so nondescript I walked right past it without noticing. One new toy that would certainly have been there was a 4-fan remote control flying rig, which (because of the number of fans) had decent directional as well as height control. I bet it ran out of batteries fairly quickly, though...

Things I hadn't seen before: polystyrene wigs in primary colours; scripts (and associated props) to make your own home video production; personalised CDs with songs on for kids by name; dress-up play suits for boys with built-in muscle definition. Here's a picture of the latter:

Fortunately, the costumes for little girls didn't have the equivalent female adult implants in them...

I wore a badge saying "Prof Richard Bartle, Essex University". This was good in one way, in that it meant I didn't get hassled by people trying to sell me things. However, it was bad in that as a result of this I didn't get any freebies.

All in all, a disappointment.

Referenced by Toy Fair.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).