The Nurnberg toy fair has been going since 1949 and is the biggest toy fair in the world bar none. It is an absolute must for our business and it just seems to get busier every year. It is truly international and brings visitors from all over the world who convene on the town of Nurnberg at the end of January year after year and turn it into a genuine international toy town.
I have had the pleasure of doing 13 consecutive Nurnberg's, and still counting. Richard my business partner has done close to thirty shows consecutively. You really should get a medal, well in fact, I believe you do - a gold lapel-sized rocking horse for 25 consecutive shows (that's if you can find the time to go and collect it). There really is nothing like Nurnberg anywhere else in the world. There are pretenders from Shanghai to Salzburg and Melbourne to Madrid, but nothing compares, it's an unmoveable feast, and long may it continue. It would be difficult to imagine our industry without this fair, it's a bit like Adam without Eve or Rolls without Royce, our industry needs Nurnberg and Nurnberg needs us. A match to outlast the best of unions.
Once you are hooked in there is no escape. You never leave Nurnberg, it leaves you. It leaves you tired, exhausted, frazzled, emotional, heavier, poorer and in a strange way, richer as well, for the experience that is. It also leaves you full of hopes, enthusiastic, awe inspired, anxious to get chasing those leads, full of joy for the new countries you have found and wondering where the hell they have been all those years, and also most importantly it leaves you hungry for more of the same. It is simply, unique and completely wonderful and terrible at the same time.
The show lasts for 6 days (Weds to Monday), but for us, and I like to think of our company as one of those inbetweenies, big enough to be there but too small to countenance an army of stand builders, who would prepare your patch for you to walk on in the starring role, on day one of the show - we start work on the Sunday. We fly to Nurnberg on Sunday and meet for a celebratory drink on Sunday night in an eerily quiet Nurnberg (the quiet before the storm), and toast our safe arrival at the show of shows all over again. Monday and Tuesday sees us entering the hall to build our corner stand in hall 12. We showcase the new and put lamb on the mutton of the established and still loved original Polydron, in preparation for our visitors, once the doors open at 9am on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday morning sees us change from our jeans into new suits and well-worn well-polished shoes. (New shoes are frowned upon in this arena, blisters are the enemy of the standing man). Richard, Darren and I appear like enthusiastic game show hosts on day one ready to greet the contestants in the competition to sell more of our wonderful products. Old friends come and go and new contacts are made on a daily basis. It all usually flows so well. Sometimes we find a copy and deal with it aggressively and sometimes we don't, but the game goes on. 6 o'clock sees us retire to a restaurant - and there are many - with our customers in tow. The wine and banter flow and late to bed is followed by the same story for the next six days.
What will you see there? Well, let me quote you just a few of the interesting statistics, over 1,000,000 products, over 70,000 new products, lots of different sections, including model railways, costumes, wooden products, educational products specialising in maths and a whole host of other areas, popular characters like Bob the Builder and Superman to name just two, games, books, art and craft, sport and leisure products. It is also one of the best kept open secrets of this extraordinary gathering that it harbours the biggest exhibition of educational products in the world. These are mainly in hall 12, which is where you will find us, but elsewhere throughout the show are some of the brightest and most useful educational products anywhere on the planet. The list is endless, and you really have to see it to believe it. You may also bump into Spider man, a Pretorian guard or two, a Smurf and any other number of life size characters that patrol the halls daily. The noise is of deals being struck and fond hellos in any number of different languages. Saturday night directly after the show the smell of cordite hangs in the air, and you will be dazzled by the brilliant firework display, regularly hosted by the event organisers. You will smell food from the numerous kitchens dotted around the halls. It's a really quite pleasant assault on the senses. You have no choice but to immerse yourself in the world of the Nurnberg toy fair.
Gossip is exchanged as we warn our fellow exhibitors of impending problems around the world and they in turn look out for us. There is honour amongst toy makers for sure, and we universally condemn the copiers and phoneys wherever they lurk. We admonish, and when possible sue the recalcitrant copiers for their malpractice and move on down the road of invention.
We salute the people who dare to walk the 14 halls in pursuit of, I don't know what, their feet should be bathed in toy heaven for their endeavours. Shoe leather is lost in the many aisles of Nurnberg.
If you have never been, then I urge you to go and see this wonderful show. I cannot find enough praise for this union of toy enthusiasts, we are a truly intrepid bunch. The town of Nurnberg is under friendly siege at the end of every January for 6 days, and it copes admirably well. Some of the locals, and just a few mind you, greet us with a thinly disguised contempt and even more thinly disguised price hikes, while others, and I stress, the vast majority, welcome us with open arms like old friends returned to the bosom of the family. It is addictive. You leave your mark on this fair, and it fades in time I am sure, but come and enjoy it, you will be a part of its rich history.