Review Scene: 2024 Australian Toy Hobby and Licensing Fair, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sunday 11th February 2024 by Sharon Brookes

2024 Australian Toy Hobby and Licensing Fair, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sunday 11th February 2024 by Mary Boukouvalas

With more than 160 exhibitors, the 2024 Australian Toy, Hobby & Licensing Fair was a haven for wholesalers and retailers who wanted a one-stop-shop. Most similar international fairs and conventions are off-limits to all but those businesses wanting to order big, and while large stores with the budgets to match make companies smile wide, this Australian toy fair didn’t discount the small business owner wanting to order just one or two items. In a tight market a buck is a buck.

2024 Australian Toy Hobby and Licensing Fair, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sunday 11th February 2024 by Mary Boukouvalas

Traditionally toys were made (by hand) for the children of the wealthy and middle-classes, but with the rise of mass production and cheap labour in some places, toys were, and are, something most people can afford and deem to be important in the family and learning environment. Over time the range of toys available grew, and with development of new technology, any home creator or inventor has the capacity to produce their own toys without the need for a massive investment, company collaboration or huge turn-around time. Still favourites are favourites, and while the number and variety of toys could make anyone’s head spin, the companies with the most popular items are still Disney, Warner Bros., Sanrio, Mattel, Mobilo and the like. These mega-makers have huge media presence, including the ear (and eyes) of influencers, inconspicuous and conspicuous product placement, and an advertising budget that could pay-off the national debt of several small countries. The big production companies were present at this fair, and from the looks of it, were getting plenty of orders, but it was also great to see the little companies and start-ups getting-in on some selling action too.

Australian toy makers were well represented, as well as ‘mum and dad’ sole-traders taking a punt on a good idea. The sales strategy seemed laid-back, and there was no great pressure to buy. Thank goodness the reps were happy to let the products speak for themselves. There was time to look, touch and contemplate the company offerings without having a sales-juggernaut breathing down your neck. Even though we were not there to buy, we were made to feel welcome. The company reps were well chosen, with friendly, happy, enthusiastic and knowledgeable people at the ready should attendees want to place an order, ask questions, make connections or just chat. A special shout-out goes to:

Ventura Games, OzAnimart, Selfie Nails, Kaiko Fidgets, Team Together Online, Your Wild Books, Kenisy Toys, Avantco (Aus) PTY LTD, Fuji Film, Geek X Distribution and others who presented their merchandise to us in a most professional and enthusiastic manner. We stayed for two hours, but realised that if we were buying, we’d need to attend for at least a whole day, just to get around and take a good look at what each exhibitor had to offer, (never mind about deciding what to order!).

2024 Australian Toy Hobby and Licensing Fair, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sunday 11th February 2024 by Mary Boukouvalas

The concept of the trade fair has been around probably since the inception of the very first World’s Fair (though they were open to all), and although they’re a brilliant idea and save buyers an inordinate amount of time, we came away thinking that the big companies were hiding something. There was at once plenty of new product, but just nothing innovative. Were the powerbrokers waiting for the mega-stage to present something awe-inspiring and different? If nothing truly different is waiting for its red-carpet moment, maybe we can conclude that the playing-it-safe game is the manufacturing philosophy of the day. In uncertain times people turn to the traditional to make them feel grounded perhaps. If a successful fair is not measured by cutting-edge creations, then it must be measured by the amount of business the fair generates. The adults present delighted in the colour, sound, textures and happy vibe that a room full of toys creates, and they seemed able and willing to let loose their inner child and potentially fill shelves with what they believe will bring in a healthy amount of cash, (which is actually a very adult thing, but don’t tell the toys).

2024 Australian Toy Hobby and Licensing Fair, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sunday 11th February 2024 by Mary Boukouvalas

About Sharon Brookes 67 Articles
Sharon is a freelance music journalist with 20 years experience writing for street press, web publications and blogs. She specialises in reviewing gigs, books, CD’s, and theatre productions.