Three things I learned from London Toy Fair 2020

Hazel Reynolds, Gamely Games
Last week I spent a couple of days at Toy Fair, wandering the aisles, meeting friends old and new and taking in all that Toy Fair has to offer.

It can be quite a dizzying event, but as I reflected on the event this year, I came away with a few key learnings that I thought might be helpful to share (SPOILER: I still don’t know which trendy new animal will take over from the llamas and the sloths, sorry):

1. It’s all about the people.
With hundreds of exhibitors, a huge array of toys and games on offer and giant children’s TV characters walking around, it can be easy to get lost in the Toy Fair hubbub. But for me, the real gold was in sitting down and chatting to people from other games companies, big and small. These open-handed exchanges with other people in the industry are so valuable, encouraging me to keep creating and reassuring me that we aren’t the only company going through the ups and downs as we make games – October 2019 was a stinker for everyone!

My colleague Dave and I had brilliant conversations this year with some fascinating individuals including Luke from Sussed and Graeme and Fiona from Accentuate, as well as getting some priceless advice from Hasbro’s Tanya Thompson, Spin Master’s Dougal Grimes, ChiTAG’s Mary Couzin and prolific game inventor Peggy Brown. I came away from Toy Fair promising myself that I’d spend more time this year investing in relationships with other like-minded individuals and companies.

2. There’s always room for innovation.
With hundreds of games on display, it would be easy to feel like all the games have been made! But this year, I went away feeling encouraged that there is plenty of room for new games. The conversations I had with other inventors and companies really got my creative cogs whirling, and gave me plenty of fresh fuel for the innovation fire.

Rather than seeing the multitude of games on offer as a threat to games inventors, I’d encourage everyone to use it as inspiration and encouragement to keep creating. Just like all the songs haven’t been written, nor all the movies made, so there is plenty of room for new games.

3. Help is out there, even if you haven’t found it yet.
I was delighted to be included in the Mojo Nation 100 for 2020. After flicking to my own nomination and enjoying a proud little moment (got to enjoy those moments!) I had a good look through at the other nominees. I was struck at the diversity of skills, personalities and motivations throughout the list – particularly in the ‘Rising Stars’ and ‘Independent Creatives’ categories.

At times it’s easy to feel isolated as a small games company, or to get wrapped up in your own little bubble. Flicking through the Mojo Nation 100 reminded me to keep connecting with others. Like-minded people with complementary skills are out there, it’s just a matter of finding them!

I’ll be reaching out to a few other people on the list in the coming months. In my experience people are usually really open to a chat, and want to help, so I’d encourage you to take a look at the list too, and see who are the people you think could be helpful to connect with.

Toy Fair is a crazy few days, but these takeaways really made it feel worthwhile for me this year. I’m wondering how you make the most of Toy Fair, and if you have any tips for making the most of your time there? I’d love to hear them, so do let me know your learnings by dropping me a line at hazel@gamelygames.com.

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