News & Views From the Toy Fair
This blog post was supposed to be: News & Highlights from the Nuremberg Toy Fair; but, as it reached 4000 words in draft, we did a little pruning, and we're left with News! For Highlights check each new brand-related post on the blog, or simply read the Doll In-Site magazine. News without the best bits can seem a bit bleak; nonetheless, we wanted to provide updates on all the brands that were at the fair that you might reasonably expect to see in stock at My Doll Best Friend.
Here we have a group of three: Paola Reina; D'Nenes, and Kidz 'n' Cats.
Paola Reina was at the fair but we didn't visit the booth this year. Whilst their dolls are lovely we discovered a difference in objectives over the course of the three years working together. Paola Reina expressed that My Doll Best Friend limited their international business opportunities because of the fact that we sent dolls overseas. The very nature of how the website is set up means that we sell all brands to international customers. We could not stop orders from overseas for a single brand - and we didn't intend to stop our export business across the multi-brand website to satisfy their objective, so we pulled out of working with them. After this event, they wrote to us to offer certain destination countries as open for business, but without a full change in objectives we couldn't go back to working with them as we can't pick and choose which customers get to buy our stock. We have been very effective in marketing Paola Reina dolls and know that a lot of our customers will be disappointed. We hope that Paola Reina quickly grows their international business to serve these new customers, and we wish them well with this goal.
We didn't buy more D'Nenes stock this year, although we very much like the stock. Last year we had stipulated that we needed barcoded model numbers and were promised this, therefore we placed a huge order with the brand; however none of the stock arrived barcoded. This means that the stock cannot be identified at the speed of a scan which really needs to be the case for any high volume low value dolls where margins are lower and speed is of the essence. Add to this that we were not sent what we ordered, but quite different versions, so it was a bit of a task to put our inventory right - and we did not receive any financial compensation for their error, although they did apologise. Therefore, we're having a break from buying D'Nenes this year! Still plenty of gorgeous Marieta dolls are on the website - and we assure you we have correctly catalogued all the dolls now!
Simply, what does it make you think when a brand is not taken along to the toy fair, by its parent company? Is Hape no longer interested in its acquisition of Kidz 'n' Cats, just three years after it bought the company? The Toy Fair is the best opportunity for a business to market its brands; write orders, launch new collections; do some market research on new prototypes etc. For Hape not to show the goods at all suggests that it has no interest in doing those things for the Kidz 'n' Cats doll brand. We're all wondering what the future can be for Kidz 'n' Cats.
This is pure speculation, so take it no more seriously than that please.
Perhaps with the 2017 Kidz 'n' Cats collection arriving so late in the year there wasn't chance to manufacture a new collection of Kidz 'n' Cats dolls for 2018, and without new dolls and clothes, Hape and Kidz 'n' Cats decided there was no news, and best not to show. Space is always limited in these booths even though Hape has a large area including courtesy refreshments. Nonetheless, it's a huge company with a vast array of products and undoubtedly they are all vying for attention. If this is the case, then we should see Kidz 'n' Cats back at the fair in 2019.
Here's theory number two: possibly Hape does not want to continue Kidz 'n' Cats - either in its current form - or at all. This would explain the apparent disinterest. This might come down to personnel, profitability or Hape taking a new direction with its overall business such that smaller brands are squeezed out. In such case what might happen to Kidz 'n' Cats is that the business might close, or move to another part of the business - perhaps to where Kruselings is under Kathe Kruse; or it might be sold.
Oh to be a fly on the wall sometimes!
What do doll buyers want from Kidz 'n' Cats? We'd like to see a boost to the brand with new dolls and cats, new faces, new clothes. How about some marketing? We want the dolls to have the pizzazz that Kidz 'n' Cats is renowned for that comes from Sonja Hartmann's special flair for designing exquisitely detailed doll clothing, and working painstakingly to bring it to market. Kidz 'n' Cats without the designer togs would be a distant cousin who we barely know.
So, with three of the brands we have in stock not providing us with Highlights this year, who did?