Do you know what that thing over on the right is? Trust me, you will. The merchandising machine is already gearing u to decide which toys will be under the Christmas tree. You weren’t under the illusion that these things arose spontaneously and naturally, were you?

 

"The Green Lantern" and "Cars 2" are expected to be among the hot entertainment properties at the annual Toy Fair, which kicks off in New York on Sunday.

 "Toys for sequels or known properties often get a better reaction from retailers," because they already have past experience, said Reyne Rice, trend specialist at the Toy Industry Association, which organizes the fair.

 Retailers tend to use the fair to get a latest look at properties and help decide whether to increase or fine-tune existing commitments to toy product. "With recent retail consolidation, buyers have been very picky," said Brad Globe, president of Time Warner's Warner Bros. Consumer Products. "We really try to strive to have a property that lives for multiple years."

 According to research firm NPD Group, U.S. retail sales of toys rose 2% in 2010 to $21.87 billion. One of its representatives recently cited this year's movie slate as being promising for toy sales.

 While NPD doesn't break out sales for specific franchises, it listed "Cars: The Movie", "Disney Princess", "Star Wars", "Thomas and Friends" and "Toy Story" -- in alphabetical order -- as the top licensed toy properties in terms of dollar sales in 2010.

Hold on, Green Lantern is the big toy of 2011? Not Thor, not Captain America? Interesting. Cars is still on top? That may have something to do with the decision to make a sequel.

 This year’s fair is at the Javits center, and if you’re thinking it’s a big happy time for kids of all ages, no. From the website’s FAQ:

May I bring my child to the show?

 No children are admitted to the exhibit halls. Absolutely no one under the age of 18 (including infants and toddlers) is permitted to attend Toy Fair. There are no childcare facilities at the Javits Center. Please save yourself and your child the stress and embarrassment of being turned away.

That’s because people are working. I’ve been to many Toy Fairs in New York, and believe me, you don’t want kids running around, handling things, interrupting the product demonstrations. They’d ask stupid questions like “How much does it cost?” instead of “What’s the price point?”

 Javits is great, but I miss the old building. The Toy Fair used to have the main action on 23rd and 5th; Mattel and other big hitters set up in in the old department stores on 23rd and everyone else piled into the old 200 5th Avenue building. The elevators were slow and small; the buyers often had a few expense-account pounds hanging around the belt, and were not interested in climbing up ten stories to get to a showroom. Result: the elevators were constantly packed. Stopped at every floor. Eventually the buyers would give up and use the stairs, pausing every so often to wheeze and mop up the sweat. and lean against the wall and wait for the radiating chest pains to stop. Oh, it was a wonderful time. I’m convinced everyone who had a showroom on the top floor went bankrupt.

 It’s not just the big guys who attend the show, it’s the mom-and-pop import shops, the entrepreneurs who think they have the next Groovy Girl. I miss it. One year our group got to meet the guy who does the voice for Elmo. Can you imagine having that job? No one would believe you. They’d just think you did a really good Elmo. 

 

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