A Visit to the Nuremberg Toy Fair

Cynthia Compton - February 6, 2019

Welcome to Nuremberg, Germany, and the 2019 Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair! This year I was thrilled to be invited to join a group of colleagues from the American Specialty Toy Association in an “exchange visit” of sorts to the world’s largest Toy Fair — some 12 FULL HALLS of toys, games and the magical stuff of play. If you have visited the Javits Center (and back in the day, the Fifth Ave. Toy Building) for New York Toy Fair, you know how enormous and overwhelming that show can be. The Nuremberg event, held from Jan 30 to Feb 3, hosted 70,000 visitors from 130 countries, with exhibitors grouped into 12 product categories ranging from infant play to high technology, from trains to dolls, games and building sets. The sheer size and scope of the event is both inspiring and exhausting, and while we walked for what seemed like miles of aisles each day, I am very sure that we only sampled a portion of the event. I thought I would share a few photos, to entice you all to join me next year!

Greeters at Spielwarenmesse


The New Exhibitor Center.

TrendGallery of new and noteworthy – WOW factor.

Additional special exhibits are created each year to highlight particular play themes or trends, and as this year was the 70th anniversary of the event with much celebration of its history, it was particularly lovely to see a “Toys Meet Books” exhibit front and center in the first hall. Displays in this area included sideline product suggestions for bookstores, and those exhibitors interested in working with booksellers. Educational sessions, “speed coaching” appointments, and display and merchandising examples were all well thought out and presented — this was an idea that I would recommend to other events.

Toys Meet Books.


Many of our familiar brands in the store are European, so it felt like running into old friends on vacation to visit their showrooms. It became quickly obvious, however, that we only know a small part of their lines here in the colonies.

A “little” bit of Hansa.

And a “prehistoric” photo opp I couldn’t resist.

Merchandising and displays at this show are simply magical, and reflect such respect for design and the imaginative power of toys:

Even high tech playthings were presented with a focus on play, which seemed very different than the battery-powered aisles at many trade shows.

Pai Technology Limited.

Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. KG.

Certain themes appeared throughout the show, in a variety of product lines and play experiences. Without proclaiming the end of the “Era of the Unicorn” yet (long may its mane and sparkly horn grace our cash registers and Z-tapes) there are a few contenders for its spot as the icon of 2019. We shall definitely see more of:

and more than a few of:

Traditional play themes and pretend were beautifully presented by many manufacturers throughout the show, and thoughtfully grouped by age level in the passageways between exhibit halls. Without packaging or shelves, these toys “came to life” like the playrooms of our dreams.

Hallway tableau highlighting baby and toddler toys.

Note the hanging sausages on this grocery counter!

An entire world of play food.

Did I mention LLAMAS?

More magic in the plush pavilion.

Any post about my adventure would be incomplete without a nod to the corner bakery that provided both breakfast and lunch on my trade show floor days. So if the toys don’t tempt you to visit Spielwarenmesse with us next January…. perhaps the bread will.


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About Cynthia Compton

Cynthia is the owner of 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Indiana, a 2600 sq. ft. childrens store founded in 2003. She serves on the board of the American Booksellers Association, is a past president of the Great Lakes Bookseller Association, and is a former member of the American Specialty Toy Retail Association board of directors. 4 Kids was honored with the Pannell Award in 2013 and has received numerous "best of" awards in the Indianapolis area. The opinions expressed in her posts are her own, and sometimes those of her english bulldogs.

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