Updated 2/3/2020

The Toy Association in collaboration with the China Toy & Juvenile Products Association has canceled the China Pavillion scheduled for Toy Fair New York. Show attendees from China, unrelated to the Pavilion, will also be subject to the U.S. travel ban.

Original article from 1/31/2020 below:

As the new coronavirus (2019-nVoC) continues to spread internationally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak to be a global emergency, and the impact is starting to hit the toy industry and kids’ products sector just as toy fair season hits its peak.

While New York City does not have any confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of this writing, The Toy Association is closely monitoring the situation ahead of Toy Fair New York. The virus, which originated in the Wuhan region of China, is already in the U.S. with confirmed cases in Illinois, California, Washington, and Arizona. Travel restrictions are in place and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is regularly updating its special website with the latest developments.

John Baulch of UK-based Toy World Magazine just returned from the 71st Spielwarenmesse international toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany, where he says that toy industry fears are numerous as the virus has taken hold at the heart of global toy production. Masks were prevalent, as were signs meant to discourage physical contact.

“This crisis could ultimately do what even Trump failed to achieve last year — paralyze China,” Baulch says. “And for those who thought it would be fixed in a matter of weeks, that rather optimistic outcome is looking increasingly unlikely; right now, 6-12 months to get everything under control doesn’t seem unreasonable.” Indications out of Nuremberg are that the situation in China is more dire than its government has admitted, with the official death toll and number of infected having already eclipsed the SARS outbreak of 2002. The New Zealand Herald reports that the death toll may be significantly higher as the Chinese government may be cremating victims off the record.

Major airlines have canceled service to and from China. Disney has closed its parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Ikea has closed all of its stores in Mainland China. And Starbucks, McDonald’s, Apple, Amazon, and Google have added closures and/or restrictions.

Some toy factories already closed for the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations may not reopen until March.

MGA Entertainment’s (MGAE) Isaac Larian says that with Chinese toy factories already ordered to stay closed until at least Feb. 10, “this is the worst crisis to hit the toys and consumer products businesses in decades. There will be major supply chain issues this year.”

As of today, the first event cancellations related to the virus have emerged. Messe Frankfurt has postponed the Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China, and Licensing China fairs, which are due to be held in Shenzhen for the first time this year in the brand-new Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center. The fairs, which are relocating from their previous home of Guangzhou, will be off the calendar until a future date can be determined.

“Messe Frankfurt’s first priority is the safety of our stakeholders, hence our decision to postpone the fairs to a later date,” says Wendy Wen, senior general manager of Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd. “The government’s decision to suspend all large-scale trade and economic events to help control the spread of the virus is one all three co-organizers of the fairs wholeheartedly support. We are already holding discussions with the venue about possible dates later this year to reschedule the fairs, and will make an announcement in due course.”

Richard Gottlieb of Global Toy Experts remains optimistic despite the coronavirus making an impact on the heels of last year’s tariff fears and a challenging holiday season. “The toy industry is, fortunately, populated by people who are resilient and will work their way through obstacles. It would be nice, however, If only we could catch a break and have a few less obstacles.”

For current information on the status of the coronavirus outbreak, visit The Toy Association and CDC websites.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.