Please introduce yourself and your company:
I’m the MD of Halilit, we are specialist distributors of pre-school toys probably best known for our accurately-tuned musical instruments but also offering fabulous brands such as Edushape Sensory and Bath toys, Battat pre-school & role-play, Taf Toys, developmental Baby toys, Terra animal figures, Doron Layeled wooden puzzles and Interstar construction.
What products are you launching at Toy Fair?
Lots! Edushape have had a big re-brand to help shout out about their focus on Sensory Play – it’s visually stunning and we are looking forward to introducing lots of new items from this outstanding range. One of the key items is Tub Sub, a fantastic bath toy that can be played with as a boat or a submarine so introducing STEM to teenies too! Our music range has lots of new designs and we are delighted to be unveiling Koala Daydream, the gorgeous new collection from Taf Toys.
How did you get into the toy industry?
Completely by accident & totally unplanned! I was dragged reluctantly into the family electronics business after graduating as a temporary fix to help earn some money to travel and take my mind off a recently broken heart! Through a family connection, my dad had offered to help out the owner of Halilit Israel who was struggling to establish his infant export business. Having made the offer, my benevolent father decided that although he didn’t have a clue how to go about doing this, he could pass the responsibility on to me and pretty much washed his hands of the whole affair leaving me to learn all about buying, selling, marketing, managing stock, picking & packing all on my own as I went along. I wore many hats in the early days!!
What was your favourite toy growing up?
The ones that stick in my mind are Sindy, Tressie (I was never a Barbie Girl), Teeny Tiny Tears, Tippy Tumbles, Spirograph & Plasticraft but most of my pocket money went on Galt craft kits & I can remember spending hours in my local toy shop picking out which one to choose.
What is the one “special ingredient” that makes a great toy?
A great toy has to have play appeal that is obvious to both child and parent at first glance. It must deliver on promises of great play and not cause disappointment because the hype on the packaging fails to materialise once the box is opened.
Other than your own, what toy brand really stands out to you today?
It has to be Orchard Toys, they have fabulous ideas, great quality products and packaging and a great mix of price points. They seem to be universally loved & a really nice team too!
What was your best memory of Toy Fair?
My second Toy Fair on a tiny, pretty basic stand, tucked away at the back of the hall. it was about 2 minutes before the end & everyone around us was packing up. I was hanging on until the bitter end but it had been a very quiet day and I wasn’t looking forward to the long drive home. Just as I was about to begin packing away, a woman rushing by, coat in hand, threw her business card at me, pointed out about 6 items and asked me to send samples to her – it was the start of our business relationship with W H Smiths! It taught me that it really isn’t over till it’s over & NEVER pack away before the end!
What’s your top tip for surviving Toy Fair?
Comfortable shoes, lip salve, lots of water & SMILE!