This is my report of the new board games at the 2005 London Toy Fair. Use the index to find the bits you want or just read it as a narrative. You can also read or print the PDF version (you will need Adobe Reader to do this – it is free from Adobe).
The Toy Fair is the industry’s annual showcase where manufacturers try to second-guess what’s going to be in vogue for next Christmas. My job is to winkle out the new games from the array of exciting new toys (this year there seemed to be a lot of Scalextric look-alikes, but I didn’t waste any time on them). Bear in mind that the audience for Toy Fair is the mass market (and toy shops in particular). The exhibitors tend to be very different from those you’d find at a specialist games event (such as GEN CON or Spiel). Even those who do produce ‘hobby’ games – like Hasbro’s Avalon Hill range – don’t show them at the Toy Fair. The main exception to this is Esdevium Games, about whom more later.
From a games point of view, there are generally two sorts of companies at Toy Fair. The established companies publish several new games each year, have established networks of customers and design their own stands. The individual games inventors and start-up publishers are in standard spaces (Toy Fair’s ‘greenhouse’ area), usually with just the one game. They are always full of enthusiasm for their product and eager to convince buyers of its merits. Sadly, many of these games turn out to be either Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit. (In fact, I didn’t see a single Monopoly clone this year, but there were quite a few Trivial Pursuit variants.) Occasionally, somebody crosses the divide, but it’s tough to build a business out of publishing games.
I tend not to pay too much attention to the bigger companies at the Toy Fair, since what they are producing is pretty predictable. So this article concentrates on the smaller and newer publishers. As always, let me make it clear that when I refer to a game as being like some other game, I am not suggesting it is a copy. This is a shorthand way of giving readers an idea of what the game is about.
Page created 9th March 2005. Last modified 24th June 2005.
This website produced by Paul Evans. © Copyright Paul Evans 2005. All trademarks acknowledged. Toy Fair logo courtesy of the BTHA.
Problems, comments and feedback to the Webmaster.