Toy Fair 2004
Pevans reports on the new board games at the UK event
If it's January, it must be time for the Toy Fair. Organised by the British Toy and Hobby Association and held at ExCeL in London's Docklands, the Toy Fair is the annual showcase for the British industry. The primary audience is the buyers for the big chains, buying groups and independent retailers. So the show is very much about products aimed at the mass market, though a few 'hobby' companies are there as well.
Of course, only a small proportion of those exhibiting have games to show. So it only takes me a day (or so) to get round them all. Here's my report on the new games I saw at this year's Fair.
As always, if I say a game is like another, this does not imply that one game is a copy of the other. This is just a shorthand description of the game by referring to a different game that readers may be familiar with. And let me warn you that all my comments are highly subjective.
First off, I spotted some differences with the show this year. New companies were concentrated in a showcase area close to the Press Office in one corner of one hall: "The Greenhouse". This is a return of a feature of the Fair that hasn't been seen for a few years. Perhaps because the area came to be known, rather unkindly, as "Death Row". It did make my job easier as I didn't need to traipse down every aisle on the off-chance that a small games company was tucked away somewhere.
However another useful feature had disappeared. The New Products display has always been a helpful introduction to what's new at the show. And a handy place to take photos. Alas, this year it was not in evidence.
Very much in evidence this year was distributor Esdevium, which had a substantially larger stand than last year. It was great to see lots of familiar 'hobby' games on display. I hope that Esdevium will succeed in interesting a wider audience in these.
Each year, I look for trends at the show. This year's seemed to be a proliferation of slot-car racing - that is, Scalextric look-alikes. Plus lots of stands with these large, silver, inflatable Frisbees. Okay, not Frisbees, technically, but you get the idea. Quite what they're about, I don't know.
Anyway, on to the games. I'll start with the regulars, move on to the newbies and then round things up at the end.
Page created 30th March 2004. Last modified 24th June 2005.
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