Toy Fair 1999 – Part 1.
10 years ago was the last time I went to Toy Fair. As you may know, Toy Fair is kind of an insiders look at upcoming toys. As a Hasbro employee, I had gone a few times, but only to Hasbro’s portion of it. To get into all of it, you need to be a buyer or a member of the press. Sure, you can wander around and look in the windows, and some sales folks wander the halls giving out free samples (I still have my "Tangles" from one of my prior trips), but without the badge, you don’t get into any of the showrooms.
In 1999, I made a deal with the local paper to cover Toy Fair for them if they gave me the credentials to get in. A story for paper in exchange for getting in to see the show. The upcoming NYCC / NYTF blitz reminded me of this trip 10 years ago. Although I am sure the rights to the actual story that was printed still belong to the Kent County Times in Warwick, RI, I think I can give a few highlights.
I started out my calling the paper and explaining who I was, why I thought they would be interested in the story, and why I needed their help to get it. The conversation went something like this: "Do you have anyone going to New York in February to cover New York Toy Fair?" "No, we don’t have the staff and its not a local enough story." "Hasbro employs a lot of people from the towns your paper covers, and they will be unveiling their new toys for the year there. I’d like to offer to go myself, pay my own expenses, and bring back the story for you." Fortunately, they were receptive of the idea. "I cannot get into the show unless I have press credentials. I would like to go. In exchange for your vouching for me, I will write you a story for the paper." This led to an interview. And an agreement of basically the above.
The paper decided to introduce me to their readers in advance. The weekend edition before Toy Fair included an article on the front page about me, my family, my obsession with toys, and explaining that I was going to Toy Fair to report for the paper. And there was a big picture of my family, each of us holding a toy of some kind that was easy to see.
Come back soon for part 2.