A Postcard from Nuremberg

Cynthia Compton - January 30, 2020

Guten tag from Germany, where this week I am attending Spielwarenmesse, the world’s largest toy fair. The enormous footprint of this show is hard to describe, so I will begin with the numbers, which while seem tangible and solid, in no way capture the vastness of this event. Over 67,000 attendees representing 132 countries are registered as I write this, and I am certain that the final numbers will increase. There are over 2800 exhibitors, housed in 12 separate convention halls, representing companies from over 68 countries, and showcasing over 1 million products. 120,000 of these products are NEW – and will be seen by buyers from around the globe. The entire city of Nuremberg seems filled with toy people, and this event is so large that public transportation, including an excellent integrated municipal train, tram and bus system, is free for all badge holders during the show. (New York City, are you listening?)

Let’s just pretend I stuffed you all into my suitcase, ok?

I’m writing this ShelfTalker post mid-way thorough my first day on the floor, and so will simply share some initial impressions and a few photos, so that you can shop and marvel with me. I’ll follow up with a second post about trends and innovations in play, and hopefully some helpful insights into opportunities for maximizing sideline space in our stores, or simply adding the best of the best playthings to your collection. There is a lot of data and content to absorb, but the most remarkable part of this event is the level of respect and care given to the design and display of toys, reflecting a true regard for the value of play throughout people’s lives. It’s inspiring, both in presentation and content, and I am once again reminded of the responsibility we have to curate the very best selection of products for our customers.
Here’s what has caught my eye so far:

The very visually appealing “TOYS MEET BOOKS” section of the fair combines specialty toys in curated displays with kids’ titles – lots of inspiration here.

Everything at the Nuremberg show is “larger than life”, including this plush displayed in a full sized vehicle.

A bit easier to imagine in our window, but always inspirational visual merchandising.

Charming vignettes demonstrate the high level of respect for pretend play, and the use of natural display materials is perfectly complementary.

Tegu magnetic building block display incorporating sets for multiple ages, showing the adaptability of heirloom quality toys.

Innovation and inclusion in an old standard: a Braille version of Uno.

PRETZELS! (nothing really new, but they’re my favorite treat in Germany and I didn’t see any toy beer)

One of the bonuses of this show is the opportunity to meet game inventors and designers. Here’s Raf Peters at Smart Games, demonstrating his 2020 new releases.

There is no shortage of dream rides for young auto enthusiasts (with better gas mileage).


Food, glorious (pretend) food.

Environmental awareness and natural products are a key trend in 2020,

The entire hall of model trains was a welcome reward for my patient husband today.

Bookstore favorite vendor Eeboo introduce a new puzzle highlighting the climate change movement.

As always, opportunities to pose with life-size toys are abundant at this show, and I will leave you with this new friend as I scour a few dozen more aisles today, and look forward to sharing another play date with you very soon.


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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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