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Links: Planet Unknown Receives DSP, Toy Fair Moves, and Warhammer Gets Stuffed

by W. Eric Martin

Sea Salt & Paper from Bruno Cathala, Théo Rivière, and Bombyx won the 2023 À la Carte award from Fairplay magazine for best card game of the year, with second place going to Challengers! and third place to Mindbug.

Planet Unknown from Ryan Lambert, Adam Rehberg, and Adam’s Apple Games came in first in the 2023 Deutscher Spiele Preis (DSP), an annual award determined by the votes of gamers. Dorfromantik: The Board Game landed in second place, and Heat: Pedal to the Medal took third.

Mysterium Kids: Captain Echo’s Treasure from Antonin Boccara, Yves Hirschfeld, Libellud, and Space Cow won the DSP in the category of children’s games after previously winning the 2023 Kinderspiel des Jahres.

• Nominees for the Nederlandse Spellenprijs 2023 have been posted:

— Family: Splendor Duel, Wandering Towers, Wonder Woods

— Kenners: Flamecraft, Heat: Pedal to the Medal, The Wolves

— Experts: Bitoku, Marrakesh, Sleeping Gods

• In Q2 2024, UK company TOMY will debut a “premium collectible plush” line featuring characters from Games Workshop‘s Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Age of Sigmar.

To quote from the press release: “With extensive diversity of content in the Warhammer franchise, including tabletop miniatures games, video games, and consumer products, TOMY will offer an additional way to engage fans and provide them with the characters they love” — which at launch will be Gnasha-Squig, Spanna Grot, Nurgling: Little Unclean One, and Sacrosanct Gryph Hound.

• During NY Toy Fair 2023, which took place September 30 through October 3, the Toy Association — which runs the North American International Toy Fair — announced that the event will not take place in 2024, with the next NY Toy Fair to be held March 1-4, 2025.

Then after 119 shows in New York City, Toy Fair will move to New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for its next three events, taking place January 17-20, 2026; January 9-12, 2027; and January 15-18, 2028. An excerpt from the press release:

“Prior to the pandemic, we heard repeated calls that changing manufacturing lead times and retailer buying patterns demanded a shift of the iconic tradeshow’s timing from February into an earlier fall timeline. These factors and similar research findings were accelerated by the pandemic and as a board we were responsive,” said Aaron Muderick, chairman of The Toy Association and founder of Crazy Aaron’s. “Now, behaviors and inputs have returned to more traditional views that Toy Fair’s key audiences find the most value in a North American trade event taking place in the first quarter of the year, ideally mid-January. We have again listened and responded by crafting an optimal pattern based on the needs of those we serve.”

As I noted in a January 2023 post, most game publishers I asked about NY Toy Fair moving to September said it made no sense. SPIEL Essen 23 took place the following weekend, so any publisher that wanted to have a presence at the former show would need a separate team for the latter one. A September 2023 article in New York Post notes that Mattel and other companies skipped NY Toy Fair 2023 because they host their own events in Q3 2023, so why spend the money to set up at the Javits Center a few weeks later to potentially see the same retailers and distributors again?

The 2025 dates for Toy Fair overlap with the dates for GAMA Expo 2025, which will be held March 3-6, and the January dates will come just ahead of London Toy Fair (typically held in the middle of January’s fourth week) and the Spielwarenmesse fair in Nürnberg, Germany, which takes place at the start of February (and sometimes a day or two or January).

In an op-ed, game and toy designer Kim Vandenbroucke writes:

At the show, people were asking: “What is the TA thinking?” “Who is this good for?” “Why New Orleans and not LA?” Many toy companies have offices in LA, so if Toy Fair was going to move the obvious choice seemed to be Los Angeles. New Orleans didn’t seem to please anyone. People lamented about the lack of direct flights to New Orleans. LAX has direct flights to over 162 cities and 42 countries (New York airports have way more). New Orleans has direct flights from a paltry 46 cities and 4 countries — an embarrassingly small number for an airport that’s serving an “International” toy show.

For gamers, this story largely doesn’t matter…except if it does. Tons of deals are made at Toy Fair — retailers and distributors place orders, licenses are signed, designers pitch ideas, etc. — and if Toy Fair is harder to attend, then those deals might not take place…or they might be shifted to other shows. Hard to say, but The Toy Association hasn’t done itself any favors by making Toy Fair a less reliable event. If people have to think about attending an event — that is, they have to figure out how to fit it in instead of it being an automatic thing each year at a specific time — then they’re less likely to do so.


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