Chicago Toy and Game Fair

This is a wrap-up of our experience at the Chicago Toy Week (Nov 19-22).  On Thurs & Fri (19-20), we attended the Toy and Game Innovator Conference – you can find the blogs on those days here and here

Those days were geared towards beginning toy and game inventors and included a “speed-dating” session with major companies to see if they liked the idea and wanted to move forward (licensing, purchasing, etc).  There were about 30 inventors there and probably 50 or so companies represented with total attendance around 200 people

Saturday and Sunday were the T&G Fair, which was open to the public and had many more exhibitors and crowds.  They opened the doors to bloggers and special needs families at 9am each day, then to the public at 10am. You were encouraged to sell your product there and we did pretty decent sales of the Card Caddy. And, we got lots of public feedback on the product and for those who didn’t buy, we got information about the product to them.

Networking with other companies was a mixed bag – there were some big game companies there – Mayfair, Tactic, CSE, Breaking Games, Ravensburger etal.  You could go up and talk to many of the game designers or presidents of the smaller ones during the show, but since they were also trying to demo and sell their product, it was sometimes tough to make a connection. And, of course, you’ll need someone else at your booth if you don’t want to miss out on sales.  Alex and I worked out really well – he would do the scout work and play the demo games, talk up the Card Caddy, then I came in and talked business.

There were other company reps walking the floor, that didn’t have booths. I saw the Hasbro reps from the conference earlier and some reps from toy stores and distributors were there, too.

Overall, the whole event got you a little bit of everything – exposure to bigger companies at every level of the product lifecycle.  They were very upfront about whether they were interested in your product and gave constructive and actionable feedback.  And then the public fair days gave you some sales time to recoup expenses and a lot of interaction with customers. Overall, it was a valuable experience for us.


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