Toy Fair was particularly fun as I had a chance to step out of my education/product development bubble and see the real impact of the games I help create through the eyes of the people who buy and sell them!
As the bulk of my communication is with educators, the only regular interactions I have with buyers come during my own “reconnaissance missions.” As my very patient husband will attest, regardless of where we are or what we’re late for, it’s impossible for me to walk by a toy store without stopping to ask how ThinkFun is selling, jot down feedback, requests, critiques, etc., share new developments– and more often than not end up playing a few challenges!
For me, Toy Fair was a rare opportunity to connect with hundreds of our retailers from all over the world (without a tired, hungry husband in tow)! I’d expected to meet almost exclusively with buyers purely interested in stocking their shops with ThinkFun product, and I was pleasantly surprised to be completely wrong! I met so many people who know our products inside and out and have identified all sorts of new uses and populations to target with them!
A sampling of the various buyers and fans who visited our booth these last 4 days…
- A non-profit that donates games to sick children at NY hospitals. I learned that the 40 challenges in games like Rush Hour and Hoppers make them well suited for these kids who often tire quickly or are interrupted frequently. This progression allows kids to complete as few or as many challenges as they can handle at a time and feel a sense of accomplishment, tackling the next when they’re ready.
- A reporter who downloaded our new Rush Hour Android app in the booth was so engrossed he took a seat and played challenges on his phone until forced to leave for his next appointment!
- A Temple bookstore that can’t keep bilingual Hebrew Zingo on the shelf!
- A speech and language pathologist who reviews games for a blog! She lit up on the improvements to our What’s GNU? game and gave me new insight on new ways to use this in a theraputic setting!
- A consultant who uses our games as adult team building exercises
- A hobby shop in Pennsylvania that hosts the Pinewood Derby event each year for local boy scout troops was thrilled to see Knot So Fast! He felt this competitive knot tying game would be a perfect challenge for these scouts!
- The Director of a summer camp program looking for new enrichment activities and interested in using ThinkFun games as part of a game invention unit.
- The developer of a new web site interested in linking ThinkFun games to specific types of learners and their strengths based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory.
- A buyer looking for products suited for children with autism. She really lit up on our new Zingo To Go, explaining that the push-to-flip action on the playing boards is a manageable, non-overwhelming task that provides appropriate tactile and visual stimulation.
- A retailer searching for games for a nursing home community that would to keep older adults’ minds sharp with fun, appropriate challenges. He felt the leveled challenges and chunky pieces in many of our spatial games like Brick by Brick made these a good fit.
Returning from Toy Fair I’m even more energized to continue doing everything I can to make our games the kinds of products that make our customers and buyers stretch their own thinking and see the potential that these games have for use in a huge range of settings!
Before closing down the booth, a few of my ThinkFun buddies and I couldn’t resist seeing how we measure up on the ThinkFun Games to Grow with display… I came up a bit short