The Toy Fair 2017: Olympia London awaits…
The Toy Fair is the UK’s only dedicated toy, game and hobby trade show, opening it’s doors at the Kensington Olympia convention centre in central London from the 24th to 26th of January. Among the exhibitors are household names, such as Scalextric, Hornby, K’Nex, Bandai UK, Games Workshop and Mattel.
The Toy Fair boasts a dedicated ‘Greenhouse Area’, located in the centre of the Grand Hall is dedicated to new business/start-up companies, all vying for the chance to make it as global toy sellers. Among the pick of the bunch are MTW Toys, Make It Real and Chelford.
In recent memory, the show has seen enormous success, boosted by celebrity attendance from the likes of Channel 5 Gadget Show host Jason Bradbury, singer and actress Pixie Lott and former Union-J singer George Shelley.
“Toy Fair offers thousands of new and exciting product launches for retailers to discover, touch and experience for the first time. Exhibitors represent a cross section of toy, game and hobby companies including toy giants such as Lego, Flair and Character, through to smaller independent companies looking to make their mark. Many show offers, which are exclusive to retailers during the three days, are not to be missed.” – Majen Immink, Head of Toy Fair operations and sales.
2017 exhibition space has completely sold out, well in advance of today’s official show opening!
Fluid will be in attendance during the three days (via our Communications Manager, Nick).
Feel free to drop him a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blast from the past:
“We’re not toys, we’re action figures!” – Major Chip Hazard (Small Soldiers, 1998)
Since the Toy Fair 2017 has officially launched today, I’ve put on my rose-tinted glasses and taken my metaphorical time machine down memory lane. Expect an influx of mid-to-late 90’s nostalgia, as well as a bucket load of pop culture references.
Here are the toys that defined my childhood…
Left to rot in charity shops all over the country, the original Action Men of 1966-1984 are a rarity these days. Having recently celebrated his 50th birthday, the old soldier made an appearance last month during BBC’s “The One Show”, on a journey to discover why he’d disappeared from off of our high street shelves.
Sadly for Mattel, Star Wars was an emerging brand in the mid-eighties. Costing far less to produce and drastically outselling Action Man in-store, the cult fascination (and mainstream reemergence) of science fiction toys nearly killed off the Action Man brand completely.
Although being born in late 1994, 10 years after the original line was discontinued, I still have that emotional connection with the Action Man brand in it’s ‘darkest days’. I have my parents to thank for that!
Should the brand re-launch in the near future, which I suspect it will (given the heavy media coverage), the old soldier will need all the weapons in his arsenal to win the hearts and minds of newer potential fans.
Rumour has it, Action Men never die… they just go missing in action.
*Are you not entertained!?*
Action Man “Battle Force” (c.1994)
For as early as I can remember, I had a ‘fully articulated’ Action Man.
He was an omnipresent figure in my early childhood years. Sporting a novelty plastic ‘missile launching’ rifle, Action Man ‘Battle Force’ was (for me) the quintessential toy for the suburbia-dwelling commando (and possibly a soft gateway to army recruitment, but thats just rumour).
*This was my action man, there were many like it, but this one was mine.*
Newer consumer toy manufacturing techniques have allowed almost light years of progression, in terms of toy detailing and quality (since the mid 1990s). However, the slight imperfections are what makes these toys so brilliant! Part of the fun was having the matching outfit and walkie-talkies (sold separately, unfortunately).
It may seem like a big lump of textile, fake tan and plastic to the pessimistically inclined, but Action Man was more than the sum of his parts. He stood for justice, fighting evil wherever it may be and protecting the innocent at any costs.
Mattel‘s ‘Action Man’ brand draws many references to rival company Hasbro, with G.I.Joe springing to mind. Both have their militaristic, ‘All-american’ theme deeply routed into their respective lores. Add to the mix Marvel’s Captain America and you’ve probably got the set!
Action Man “Scuba Diver” (c.1995)
Following the Mattel theme, Action Man returned (c.1995). Presumably straight from the Bahamas, in a diving scene reminiscent of the 1965 James Bond (007) film “Thunderball“, the striking graphic on the front of the packaging stays true to the brand ethos, depicting Action Man as the vengeful bringer of moral justice, in a sea of suddenly impending dangers… Or maybe he’s just won his accumulator? That’s the beauty of interpretation.
*I hope we didn’t scare the fishes.*
His body was yet again ‘fully articulated’, allowing for the swift maneuverability of any domestic bath/sink/paddling pool. Most notably, this model came with magnetic ‘explosives’ and a spear gun (perfect for brutally impaling foes underwater… or losing around the house).
K’Nex 275+ piece value tub (c.2003)
Ah yes, K’nex. Those were the days.
The brainchild of American inventor Joel Glickman in 1992, unleashing your inner mechanical engineer was made child’s play by this handy value tub. Fully loaded with over 275 pieces, the limitations of your imagination were the only constraint in an otherwise flexible tool kit.
*K’NEX takes constructive building to an entirely new level with its color-coded building system.*
I spent days on end (around school) building all manner of crazy contraptions. It’s a shame the tub only had a limited number of wheels. Looking back, the sheer unfulfillment of not turning the red box into an RC-style vehicle is palpable.
P.s: The owner’s manual certainly helps, should you get stuck for new projects to build.
Lego Star Wars “V-Wing” spacecraft (c.2005)
As an impressionable young Star Wars fanatic, this was one of my favourites.
The V-Wing fighter-bomber featured in the opening space battle over Coruscant (a key moment in the Clone Wars) where Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are on the hunt for Trade Federation field commander General Grievous. There were many V-Wing units supporting the assault on Grievous’ Capital Ship and skirmishing with Trade Federation forces in the background.
The Republic’s clone army is a force to be reckoned with at this time in the story arc, featuring equipment like the V-Wing, that would later on be the inspiration for the Y-Wing bomber seen in the classic Star Wars films.
*Gold Squadron, Standing by*
The Toy Fair has finished it’s opening day. You can catch up with day 1’s proceedings here.