by Lena Hedo and Reyne Rice, co-presidents, International Toy Trade Magazine Association (ITMA)
When the Kids Time Kielce Fair launched in 2009, it began as a two-day consumer show, with trade guests invited for only one day. Today, Kids Time Kielce has grown to be a significant and not-to-be-missed B2B European trade show for toys, games, baby products, furniture, and textiles. Boasting attendance from 22 different countries, exhibitors and trade guests travel from across all of Europe, Russia, Asia, and the U.S.
In 2018, fair visitors increased to 7,515, and square footage hit a record 19,000 square meters (204,514 square feet). Exhibitors grew 23 percent over the past two years, expanding from 415 in 2016 to 512 in 2018. Hall H was added to manage the growing pram business, since Poland is the largest pram producer in Europe. More than 80 domestic pram manufacturers are centered in the region around Czestochowa. Flagship brands such as Silver Cross and Britax anchored Hall H, and many domestic and international pram brands were showcased.
Tuban is a Polish manufacturer of premier bubble solution. As a student, the Polish-born inventor Jakub Bochenek had a dream to develop the best bubble solution ever. As a trained street performer, he received acclaim from people who loved his deluxe bubble creation performances, and he was encouraged to manufacture them. Since then, the successful Tuban premier bubble solutions and tools are now sold in more than 25 countries worldwide in Europe and Canada. The new party box includes enough bubble solution, wands, and tools for ten bubble enthusiasts. His goal is to be the premier worldwide bubble manufacturer.
“My bubbles are stronger, longer lasting, and bigger than any other bubble supplier,” says Bochenek. “We hold multiple world records, including the latest from January 2018 Guinness World Record for including 419 people in a single bubble.”
“We continue to innovate and have designed bubble-bouncing gloves, to create tricks, where advanced bubble experts can bounce a Tuban bubble over 500 times. The secret solution bubble recipe is produced in Poland, and Tuban employs a staff of 8 people year-round, increasing to 25 employees in high season.”
Granna is a Polish game publisher, with more than 100 games in its portfolio. Through distributors, they are represented in over 30 countries, including Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. One of its best-selling games is a national Polish favorite, Super Farmer. It was created during the Second World War by a Polish mathematician named Karol Borsuk. The original game sold limited copies since Poland was not a major independent game manufacturing country.
After 1990, the Polish government adopted a program of economic reform, transitioning the previous communist economic model into a free-market system, where Poland was re-integrated into the global economy. At that time, the widow of the inventor approached Granna with the goal of selling the game outright. Granna jumped at the chance, and since they acquired the rights to the Super Farmer game, they have sold more than 2 Million copies worldwide.
Granna produces all its games in Poland and has an internal research and design team that creates the majority of their games in-house, yet they do sometimes use outside inventors. They employ 100 people year-round and increase staffing by 50 percent in the high season.
Kooglo is a new Polish manufacturer of patented magnetic wooden blocks, and all production occurs in Poland. The company started sales in Poland in November 2016 and has already received multiple awards, such as the Toy of the Year Award 2017 in Poland,and a Kind + Jugend Parent’s Choice Award 2017 in Germany, according to Elżbieta Woźniak-Łojczuk.
Łojczuk conceived the idea when she was expecting her third child. Observing her older children, she noticed that they liked wooden blocks, but too often the buildings would fall apart. She came up with the idea of connecting traditional blocks through magnets in the walls of the blocks. The idea of including magnets inside, to allow children to easily build structures that held together was born. She went home and involved her husband, Emil Łojczuk, who quickly warmed up to the idea, and created some hand-made prototypes, in their garage, and Kooglo blocks took form. Their first samples received positive feedback and they started production, a mere four months after the idea was conceived. Emil focuses on the technical aspects and patents, and Łojczuk manages the marketing, sales and new product ideas. Today they have eight different block sets in both natural and colorful beech wood, for a combination of retail and educational sales. Łojczuk pointed out that “Kooglo is recommended from 2+ years, and these magnetic blocks provide great basic play for young children and develop building and hand-eye coordination skills.”
Wader, a long-standing manufacturer and inventor of toys in Poland, began in the toy industry in the end of the 1960s by Richard Wozniak, father of the current President Marcin Wozniak. Their earliest toy was a car, and their toy vehicle line developed to 12 products until 1990. Then the market opened, and they began their joint venture with Wader of Germany. They also reached out for cooperation with eight warehouses in Northern Poland, with the goal of extending their distribution.
Today, Wader is recognized as one of the top five toy producers in Poland, and the largest producer for plastic toy products. Their products are sold in over 70 countries, worldwide, yet 80 percent of their current sales are for surrounding countries, as shown on the map. Currently, they employ 200 people, and seasonally, they increase with an additional 100 employees.
Their best-selling toys are their Giant Truck range. Wader incorporated Disney licensed products in their ranges in 2013, and just expanded licensing with a new partnership with Hasbro in 2017.
Wader-Wozniak was awarded the prestigious 2018 SuperBrands Polish Brand Title. Marcin Wozniak claims that their secret to success is simple. “At Wader, we produce simple, high-quality, durable products that provide good value for the money. Sometimes too durable, since our toy products last for generations.”
The 2019 Kids Time Fair, in Kielce Poland, will celebrate the 10th anniversary, and is scheduled for Feb 20 to 22, 2019.