Most trade associations aren't known for fun and games, but most trade associations aren't the TIA. Around since 1916, when it got its start as Toy Manufacturers of America, the Toy Industry Association has represented the interests of producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America. It represents over 500 manufacturers and vendors comprising over 85% of the United States toy market.
The TIA's membership, which includes toy manufacturers and vendors, as well as members of peripheral areas like testing laboratories, promote the growth and image of the toy industry through trade shows and philanthropic organizations like the Toy Industry Foundation.
Its signature annual trade show, the Toy Fair, celebrates its 109th year in New York in February 2012. The TIA expects some 1,100 exhibitors from over 100 countries. The show, open only to industry professionals and vendors, is a fantastic opportunity to show off the latest in toys and games, and to network with others in the business. To help ensure success for exhibitors, the Fair's website features a free exhibitor's guide, and additional promotional opportunities such as signage, on-site sponsorships, advertising in the Toy Fair Times, and even costumed characters. The opportunities are huge at this premier showcase.
The night before the show opens, the TIA hosts the Toy of the Year awards, which it calls the "Oscars" of the toy industry. Out of some 500 products submitted for consideration, 12 will receive awards in categories such as Boy Toy and Girl Toy of the Year; Preschool Toy of the Year; Outdoor Toy of the Year; and Innovative Toy of the Year.
In addition to the Toy Fair, the TIA plans to host the PlayCon (formerly ToyCon) in Washington, DC, in May of 2012. PlayCon promises to offer a "shared networking and educational experience for toy and youth product decision-makers" with networking events, presentations by successful vendors, and interactive breakout sessions.
But the TIA's activities clearly aren't child's play. The Association has long advocated responsibility for toy makers, and developed the first toy safety standards. As part of its commitment to safety, the TIA's website features a wealth of safety information for both parents and industry professionals. You can link to sites devoted to toy safety standards, including the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, and the International Council of Toy Industries' comprehensive listing of worldwide toy safety and manufacturing standards. For parents and caregivers, the TIA offers the sister website ToyInfo.org, with the latest news and information on the toy industry. The "Safety 24/7" link provides tips for choosing safe, appropriate toys for the kids in your life, and you can check the toy recalls link to make sure you don't have a recalled product in your home. You can also download free the brochures Fun Play, Safe Play; Let's Play: Toys for Children with Special Needs; and Play is Forever: A Playbook for All Ages.
In keeping with the TIA's mission of advocacy of the industry, their website also offers education sessions for aspiring toy vendors and manufacturers. TIA's website offers a variety of education sessions that will help with everything from "Developing Media and Marketing Strategies," "Preparing for a Product Recall or Crisis," "Communicating to Kids," and "Toy Fair Safety and Legislative Update," all designed to keep industry professionals up-to-date and prepared for success.
With the United States toy industry estimated to be worth over $21 billion annually, and the worldwide market worth some $80 billion per year, toy manufacturers, vendors, and importers need optimum support to reach the broadest market possible. TIA has proven itself as a premier advocate of toy industry professionals, and offers numerous opportunities for marketing and sales.