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31 Jan – 4 Feb 2018
Spielwarenmesse®: The sale of party items for carnival and other celebrations is generally very seasonal. What recommendations can you give to toy retailers if they want to spread the season out successfully?
Manuela Steiner: They should play on themes that are not linked to a particular season. Nowadays nearly every child has got a dressing up box in their bedroom. Princesses are always a favourite with girls and for boys it's pirates or cowboys.
And there are so many different family celebrations that can also be given a motto. Local events such as mediaeval fairs, pirate pageants or even an "Oktoberfest" organised by virtually every little German village or the local pub nowadays offer another possibility.
In the toy department, matching costumes should be displayed all year round alongside Frozen, Cinderella, Batman, Transformers, Spiderman and StarWars products. Kids love dressing up as their idols and heroes.
Licensed products are becoming increasingly important in the carnival business. What are the current trends for the next carnival season?
M.S.: This year StarWars is one of the big favourites for boys. Star Wars 7 is coming to cinemas in December and Star Wars has been the top seller among licensed articles for years so that everyone is dying to see the next sequel and the new characters.
Frozen is an absolute "must have" among the younger girls, and for older girls it has to be Monster High. Apart from that it's always the new films or television series that set the trends every year.
Sometimes it's not easy deciding whether accessories need a license. The carnival section of the German Toy Manufacturers' Association recently obtained a ruling before the German Federal Court of Justice that basically says: Not every red wig with two plaits has to be licenced by the copyright holders of "Pippi Longstocking". A lot of carnival themes probably hover around in this grey area. How can manufacturers and retailers be sure they're on the safe side?
M.S.: This "character" has caused a lot of problems in our industry over recent years. Dealers were constantly being warned about such costumes, however little they had to do with the real "Pippi" - the main thing was the wig. Our customers and the industry felt so unsettled that the "Cheeky lass" or "Tomboy" or whatever other names she was given, more or less disappeared from the stores.
The victory in this lawsuit will bring about a revival in costumes and wigs and has settled all the uncertainties about other costumes, too, for example the traditional witch or Red Indian. What is important is that the costume does not depict a particular character - that would really be a violation of copyright and would make the dealer open to attack.
International perspectives: Rubie´s is successful all over the world. What are the main differences to be taken into account in the markets for party and carnival articles, for example in South and North America, Europe and Asia?
M.S.: The most important difference between America and Germany, for example, is that carnival as we know it doesn't exist in America. And in America Halloween costumes aren't restricted to scary themes but include the whole range from witches and vampires right through to clowns. In Germany, Halloween costumes will probably always be dark and scary - we can wear the other costumes for carnival.
Another big difference is the fundamental affinity for dressing up. In the USA people dress up all year round on all sorts of occasions, for example lots of cinema audiences dress up to match the film they're watching. That's very rare in Germany. But as I said above, dressing up outside carnival and Halloween has become much more popular in Germany over recent years and I'm sure this trend will continue.
The classics are the basis for the development of new trends. What does Rubie's have in the pipeline?
M.S.: As you have already said, the classics will always be with us and I think that's a good thing. We don't have to and don't want to re-invent or re-define carnival. Nevertheless every year there are lots of new ideas, both in the historical, authentic sector as well as in the fantasy and crazy sector. Rubie's naturally have lots of new licensed costumes in the pipeline and they are in tune with the scheduled new films, games and events.
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