by Marian Bossard, vice president of meetings and events, Toy Industry Association (TIA)

If I had a dollar for every key industry contact that told us the concept of a licensing showcase during American International Toy Fair was nothing short of brilliant, I would have at least $10. Maybe even $12.

After all, what isn’t right about endeavoring to create a “Licensing Upfront” for brand and property owners when all the right people with all the right innovation, influence, and interest are already in New York City for Toy Fair? And, what could be off the mark about bringing together an audience of Madison Avenue marketers, manufacturers from around the world, mass market and independent retailers, and critically important global media available only in New York City? The short answer is nothing. But the short answer just kind of falls short of telling the story.

A venture like this requires that you start with a clear objective, but just as important is the need to remain flexible and open to modification along the way. As it turned out, even with high levels of interest, the formats that prevailed were the small meetings with key partners, invitation-only breakfasts and cocktail receptions, and brand and property exposure through traditional advertising and promotional opportunities. So, while Toy Fair won’t be seeing “big screen showcases” this year, we are pleased that we have provided just the right solutions for these stakeholders’ needs.

The licensing community attends Toy Fair in greater numbers each year. At our 2011 event, we saw a 20 percent combined increase in licensor and entertainment executive attendance. Leading up to Toy Fair 2012, we are tracking double-digit gains year to date. This should come as no surprise.

As we know, there are three key partners who must be at the table when negotiating a license deal: the brand owner, manufacturing partners, and key retailers. Three’s the charm, right? If so, then Toy Fair is charmed because there is no other event in the U.S. that delivers so powerfully these three essential partners.

With great anticipation, we look forward to hosting our toy, youth product, entertainment, retail, and media guests back to Toy Fair. We join them in celebrating the 75th anniversaries of the Tonka and Dr. Seuss’ Mulberry Street brands, as well as the anniversaries of other well-established brands such as Girl Scouts (100 years), Clifford the Big Red Dog (50 years), Masters of the Universe (30 years), Where’s Waldo (25 years), K’nex (20 years), Build-a-Bear (15 years), and more. We are also looking forward to seeing exciting new product lines this year centered on Cinderella, Batman, Spider-Man, and Marvel’s The Avengers.

TIA is very proud of the marketplaces we produce for our members and prospective members. We are constantly looking for ways to better serve the industry we represent. Our base of stakeholders is much more broadly defined this year than it has ever been and we seek business growth opportunities for all of our members, whether they are manufacturers, importers, manufacturers’ reps, inventors and designers, retailers or, of course, licensors. We will continue to provide opportunities for all.

This post was originally written by Marian Bossard and published by For more news, visit, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.