Please introduce yourself and your company:
Hi I’m Mark Slater-Hyndman and I am the UK & Ireland GM for Alpha Group UK.
Here at Alpha we not only create excellent products, we also produce our own content and animation series, plus we partner with licensors and media companies to create some great collaborations and JV’s.
We are a Chinese owned business, and as part of our International expansion program, I was fortunate to be invited to set up the UK business in 2017. To be able to bring my own team and business to Toy Fair for the first time is the proudest moment of my career.
What products are you launching at Toy Fair?
Well you could say we are launching all our products at Toy Fair! As this is our debut year at our industry’s blue riband event.
In actual fact we are showcasing our Series 3 range for Super Wings, our new Global line for Spongebob and our latest innovation in R/C called Grrrrrumball. We are also launching the master toy for DHX’s Massive Monster Mayhem, we also have a super cool rage of fun role play items from WWE, all of which you will see at our stand.
How did you get into the toy industry?
Well, this is actually my 25thToy Fair, having joined the Industry back in 1993 when I joined Clive Jones and Barry Groves at Cowan de Groot/Dekker Toys! I joined from Puma, the sporting goods brand. I thought about moving back to the sports industry a number of years later, then the Teletubbies arrived and once in toys, always in toys I guess!
What was your favourite toy growing up?
I have to say my favourite toy(s) have to be Action Man, (I know some will have a wry smile at this!) but it was! Unlike boys now when we lose them after 6 or 7, we were still playing with Action Man at 10 and 11! I had everything, eagle eyes, diver, ninja, aww and the one with the parachute from the bedroom window! The tanks (British & German), the jeeps, the helicopter . . . I could go on, great fun!
What is the one “special ingredient” that makes a great toy?
I still think that a toy, or any plaything for that matter, that is able to get a child to think & play imaginatively & creatively is that special ingredient. There is nothing wrong with prescriptive play, but seeing your child having fun and playing with imagination has to be one of the most rewarding experiences.
Other than your own, what toy brand really stands out to you today?
I really like what Dave & Mary are creating at Addo, they have a bright future there I hope. Also Lego have done a great job with their Harry Potter range, well designed and once again highlights the strength of the brand.
What was your best memory of Toy Fair?
One I can repeat in public? (Steve Alexander you know what I’m thinking)
Not sure about my best memory, but certainly my first memory was from my very first Toy Fair. As a young 27 year old I arrived, looked around and thought aww no, what have I done, who are all these old men walking around in dark grey mono tone suits! Have I arrived at an OAP’s convention!
One look at Steve Richardson changed that view!
And how has our event changed over the past quarter of a century!
What’s your top tip for surviving Toy Fair?
Do NOT wear new shoes! Or go drinking with Andy Laughton!