Turing Tumble Progress Update #12: NY Toy Fair
We just got back from the best convention we’ve ever attended. It was fun, exciting and a bit overwhelming. We met people from all over the world and all walks of life: toy store owners, inventors, manufacturers, press, distributors, sales reps, publishers, and (most importantly!) some of our Kickstarter backers. Turing Tumble was received with a LOT of enthusiasm.
(In case you are noticing a different voice in this update, you are right! It is me, Alyssa, writing the update this time. Toy Fair highlighted my role in our company more than I expected. We both do a wide variety of tasks, but I have been handling more of the business relationships and that was a big part of our trip, so we decided I should be the one to tell about it.)
Before the main Toy Fair starts, there is a “product preview” day. That’s where someone from each company pitches their toys to representatives of the Toy Association so that they can see what might interest the press throughout the week. The preview got us off to an amazing start. Turing Tumble was chosen to be highlighted in a presentation on toy trends that was attended by about 300 people. A presenter spent time with Paul learning all about it and then on Sunday it was highlighted as one of the trends in the learning toys category. We were really proud to see it on the stage alongside LEGO, Mattel and Hasbro products.
The first day was really fun, but overwhelming. Our booth was hopping and the four of us were pretty much busy all day. I was apprehensive leading up to Toy Fair because I had corresponded with many people, and I wasn’t sure I’d know what I was looking for in the face to face interactions. I also wondered if I would be able to hold my own as I’m totally new to business, save for the couple books I’ve read and some friends who have generously answered my questions. My apprehension was warranted. It was incredibly hard to distinguish good business opportunities from not such good ones.
After some insights from an industry veteran and mulling it over, I had a clearer head and went into day two with a list of the business opportunities I wanted to solidify: 1. Companies that have toy catalogs that catered to more educational products, 2. A few international distributors and 3. Buyers for toy stores. The list helped me prioritize and gave me clarity as I met new people. By the end of the show we had solidified some plans and brought home three notebooks full of leads!
One thing I didn’t expect was the number of people who seemed fishy. Some would avoid answering questions, some would promise you the moon, and others just used a lot of confusing acronyms and name dropping. Some walked up to the booth with their name tag flipped around and you couldn’t tell right away if they were trying to remain anonymous because they held a high position or if they were trying to get by with something. Going into Toy Fair someone advised us to treat everyone the same. We stuck to that for the most part…except when that guy from The Tonight Show stopped by. After I showed him the binary demonstration he told me our game was “smart Plinko”. I sure hope he tells Jimmy Fallon about it!
One of the highlights of Toy Fair was Paul being interviewed by Make48, a show on PBS where teams compete to develop a new commercial product idea in a 48 hour invent-a-thon weekend. Bob Coulstron, the host, is a Kickstarter creator and enthusiast who followed our campaign. Some part of the interview will be aired in season two of their show this fall.
We are so grateful that we got to be a part of Toy Fair 2018. Thank you for believing in us from the beginning! It was intimidating to introduce it to the retail market, but with the support of all of you, we felt very confident. It says a lot to buyers that 4,198 people wanted the product when it was just a prototype.
Production of the plastic parts begins the first week of March. Next time you hear from us, Paul will be home from China with news on how the production is going!
Our sincere thanks,
Alyssa and Paul
Here are some additional pictures: