The Toy and Game Innovation Conference is a two day conference preceding the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and is geared towards beginning inventors in the industry. We attended this year for the first time.
After a long but uneventful drive from Morgantown, we arrived on Thursday morning in Chicago at the Navy Pier around 6am. I had forgotten about central time change, so we parked in the garage and got another hour of sleep. Then we loaded up the table set up and made our way to the registration for the T&GCon. We got set up in a large room with rows of table for the other toy and game inventors – there ended up being around 30 altogether. You didn’t need to staff your table the whole time, but my stepson came with me, so it was nice to have him there talking to people while I attended the conference sessions. Alex, pictured above, turned out to the be rock star of this event – he was networking with the other developers and selling the Card Caddy like a champ by the end.
There were some good typical conference-type sessions and panels in the morning and afternoon about what to do with a T&G idea (license or self-publish, how to pitch to T&G companies, what to expect from them). The large-scale industry was well represented with people from Hasbro, Asmodee, Mayfair, University, Pressman etc. We had a good buffet style lunch where you could sit with anyone so if there was a presenter you wanted to get to know better, it was just a matter of stalking them in the lunch line.
After lunch were a few more sessions, and then in the afternoon was a speed dating session. All of the industry reps had agreed to move from table to table in the inventors’ room to listen to everyone’s 90 second pitch. I think that was really what most of the people in the conference were there for. Most of the inventors had games, not toys, and they were looking to license them to a large company.
As for the Card Caddy, our speed dating session went pretty well. All of the “company” reps had positive comments, thought the price point was solid and saw the potential for both stand-alone sales and bundled with new games. The “big guys” were looking for full games, not accessories, but I had a lot of interest from some game component producers and retail stores. Time will tell if any of those pan out, but it was great to get the feedback nonetheless.
After the speed dating, there was a complimentary dinner at Alhambra and a T&G inspired fashion show! Overall it was an excellent and overwhelming day.