Spielwarenmesse: The industry takes off! Toy retailer offers Zoom toy challenge

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Die Branche hebt ab! Zoom-Online Event im Spielwarenhandel
  Movers & shakers

Movers & shakers

The industry takes off! Toy retailer offers Zoom toy challenge

from Ulrich Texter

The Spielwarenmesse was the last big highlight in the toy industry's 2020 calendar. Then came SARS-CoV-2. The result? No more appointments, no face-to-face meetings, no round tables, no networking. And instead? Cold turkey, Zoom, Skype and the podcast. Now, in order to meet up with friends in the toy industry, the German Association of the Toy Industry (DVSI), the German Association of Toy and Game Retailers (BVS), Spielwarenmesse eG and the trade journal planet toys are inviting the whole industry to the first ever virtual and free-of-charge VIP world tour.

Germany’s first toy events venue, idee + spiel Hannover, was hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic. The fun stopped overnight. However, the inventor of the cult “Männerabend” (guys’ night) events, Heinz Lehmann, continued on during the lockdown. He pulled the next crazy idea out of his sleeve – the virtual TOY Challenge World Tour – and took it online. On the TOY Challenge World Tour – which is a virtual live event, not an online game – up to five aeroplanes take nearly 500 games fans on location to Dublin, Rio, Las Vegas, Sydney and Marrakesh to play games, gamble, play poker, guess and draw.

The idea, concocted by students, is one of the most creative answers cooked up in times of corona. Alongside DVSI and BVS and Spielwarenmesse®, planet toys is now offering a break from the everyday for all those who want a breather and a chance to catch up with colleagues. On 8 September, three planes chartered by DVSI, BVS and Spielwarenmesse® will take off carrying up to 270 industry guests to the five hotspots. Anyone can take part; the tickets are free and there are no visa requirements. The two-and-a-half-hour programme includes games such as the world touring game “Weltreise” (Ravensburger), “Pictionary” (Mattel), “Pandemic” (Asmodee) and pub quiz game “Kneipen-Quiz” (Moses). VIP seats are limited.

Mr Lehmann, since May, your answer to the lockdown has been to offer the virtual “TOY Challenge – World Tour Party”. Who came up with this crazy idea?

Heinz Lehmann

Heinz Lehmann: In actual fact, I already produced a world tour for children several years ago. After the lockdown, I made the decision to keep paying my games masters, who help me carry out the events and who are all students, but said to them they should reformulate the events that we offer in the shop into virtual versions that we could then make into a world tour. We sat together for a good six weeks, then the virtual Toy Challenge was ready.

So, what's it all about, what does it cost and how long does a world tour with you take?

H. L.:  The world tour lasts 2.5 hours and it's a real live event, not an online game. One tour guide and 10 games masters take part in a trip from our team. The ticket normally costs €20 but is only €12 during the pandemic. Companies can even book separate aeroplanes with their own design. This is possible starting from 10 players and up to 90 people fit in one of these company planes.

What are the minimum technical requirements to be able to take off with you?

H. L.: PC or laptop is all. It is also possible to do the world tour on a smartphone, in which case you should download the Zoom app. After registration, a link is emailed to the passengers for check-in. We generally open our toy shop – or, rather, travel agency – at 18:45 to greet the guests. Then it’s off to the airport.

What awaits the passengers? After all, they are going to five cities on five different continents!

H. L.: The participants are welcomed by a team of tour guides in each city. The fun begins in a typical Dublin pub with a quiz; in Las Vegas they play roulette and cards. In Rio, the aim is to solve a picture puzzle as quickly as possible, while in Sydney they get to try their hand at Pictionary. At the last stop in Marrakesh, guesstimation questions are on the programme. Whoever collects the most points will be awarded with a prize in our toy shop following their return.

Toy Challenge

Your games events thrive on emotion. Does that not go down the drain sitting in front of a computer?

H. L.: That’s what I also thought at first because I couldn’t imagine being able to elicit the same kind of emotions on the net as we evoke in the shop. But it works! The world tours are almost like a party, with drinks and all the trimmings. Some people even dress up.

In September, planet toys, together with BVS and DVSI and the Spielwarenmesse® is offering the industry a free world tour for “VIPs”. How did this come about and who is allowed to join them for take-off?

H. L.: So far this year, all official industry meet-ups have fallen through. We were all missing out. When they got wind of our virtual Toy Challenge, planet toys enquired about whether we might be able to put something together jointly…and here we are. 270 people can come with us on a world tour on 8 September. In principle, anyone from the toy industry can take part, regardless of what country they are in. Note, however, that the crew will speak German.

For further information see TOY Challenge Facts & details


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spielwarenmesse eG.

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