This October, Fall Toy Preview will open to crowds of global play professionals eager to see the hottest new toy lines for the 2019 holiday season. We recently sat down with The Toy Association’s Kimberly Carcone, vice president of market events, and Tim Knock, director of audience relations, to hear more about the fall marketplace and what it means to the toy community.

We’ve heard from The Toy Association that Fall Toy Preview 2018 will be even bigger and better than last year’s show. What kind of turnout are you expecting?
KC: We’re expecting more retail outlets and individual buyers this year. In fact, our year-to-date registration numbers show a 23 percent rise in registered retail outlets and a 63 percent increase in buyers compared to the same period last year. In all, we estimate that about 300 retail outlets will be in attendance, which is a 65 percent increase over 2017.

We’re forecasting a truly dynamic and energetic show and are looking forward to welcoming an enthusiastic audience of new and returning buyers who want fresh insight into toy trends and unique product lines for their stores. More than 300 exhibitors will be showing their product in closed, open, and combination booths. You can expect to see everything from educational and plush toys, to new licenses, creative twists on classic games, and innovative tech toys.

What do you attribute increased retail interest in the show?
TK: With the recent loss of some larger, more traditional toy outlets, there is a huge chunk of market share now up for grabs, which is proving to be a real game changer. Retailers are seizing the opportunity to secure their piece of the toy business in their cities and local communities, and they know that Fall Toy Preview is the place to get ahead of the game and see the most comprehensive gathering of brands ready to preview their 2019 lines.

We are optimistic that specialty stores, mid-tier chains, and major retailers alike will be able to fill the gap and help shape the future of toys and play left by those who have vacated the space. Fall Toy Preview gives buyers a chance to provide toymakers with valuable input based on the specific tastes of their customers. It’s a new era for the industry and it will really come to life this fall in Dallas.

Are there any special events or activities planned for the show?
KC: Absolutely! Our special sessions and events enhance the overall show experience for our guests, whether they want to network, forge new business connections, or learn something new about the business of toys and play.

On Monday, Oct. 1, the annual WIT Empowerment Day will be held once again at the Dallas Market Center. The popular event is free for Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) members and allows women entrepreneurs the exclusive opportunity to pitch their products to Walmart buyers and top toy companies such as Hasbro, Spin Master, etc.

Then, on the first day of the show (Tuesday, Oct. 2), we’ll be hosting our first ever Blogger Breakfast, giving about 20 online influencers the opportunity to learn about the marketplace and participate in a special tour of exhibiting companies. Companies that would like to be included in the tour are invited to contact Laura Mangiaracina at lmangiaracina@toyassociation.org for more information.

We’ll cap off the first day with the themed Opening Night Party, with ticket proceeds benefiting The Toy Foundation. Tickets are $25 per person; show exhibitors receive two complimentary tickets. It’s always a fun time with fantastic food and entertainment.

And on Wednesday, Oct. 3, there will be a free lunch-and-learn session with Blue Plate Media Services, during which attendees can learn strategies for a “balanced diet of media buying.”

We have a few more surprises up our sleeves, so keep an eye out for announcements about special events and activities in the coming weeks.

 For more information about Fall Toy Preview, including a list of participating buyers, registration and hotel information, and more, visit falltoypreview.org.