A few weeks ago was the annual London Toy Fair showed off in January what many people will be buying this coming Christmas, including some railway toys.

Anyone who has been to a trade show will know what was going on, loads of stands, lots of standing around, lots of walking, and lots of looking at a map of the exhibition arena trying not to get lost, again. Much of the railway stuff is already in the shops, and without naming names, a few familiar faces from a certain railway retailer were seen eyeing up some of the goodies on show.

The most impressive stand came from long-standing tube collectables, The London Toy Company, who had the front of an actual tube train on their stand. In a hall filled with companies trying to attract attention, the company picked up the award for “Best Self-Build Stand” thanks to the tube train on their patch of Olympia’s exhibition hall.

The company’s co-directors Darren Rickles and Joel Berkowitz told ToyNews that the build involved “two site visits, a lot of trips to the shops, and a LOT of hard labour. We finished at 9.59pm on set-up day, one minute before the 10pm deadline.”

Eagle-eyed readers might think it looks slightly familiar — as it was in Hamley’s basement until The London Toy Company bought it and turned it into a portable office. Just the front bit, although the use of a rear wall mural certainly makes it look a lot larger than it is at first glance.

They were showing off a lot of authorised TfL goodies, from their train soft toys (including a certain purple train coming soon), their existing model railway kit, and something that’s going on sale this summer – a LEGO-compatible S-Stock train and the railway track.

Elsewhere, University Games showed off a Harry Potter steam train model that’s sold as a cardboard kit that can be popped out and assembled. Made from 180 pieces, the model includes a platform 9¾ and the flying car from the movies.

A new board game was being shown off by Tactic games which is a version of that classic Dominos, but this time London or New York railway-themed, although the lady confessed that they were so new she hadn’t been shown how to play them yet.

Something else that caught my eye was the Rokr clockwork models of steam trains, and many other items, being sold by Fountasia in the UK. If you’re a toy shop, they were keen to explain that if you buy a minimum quantity of them, they will provide a powered working model of the steam train. I suspect that’s something they could sell to many train geeks as well.

Toy fairs are a strange thing to visit – they are serious trade shows full of people buying, selling and haggling, and yet all surrounded by the sights and sounds of childish fun.

A very long time ago, your correspondent worked for a large toy store and while the director and senior staff planned their visit to the London Toy Fair visiting all the big suppliers placing orders for Christmas — in January — I was meeting with an early Games Workshop company to set up a dealership. However, we would all meet for lunch at one of the big manufacturers, and this was the time that the Cabbage Patch Dolls were a huge thing — and in the middle of the lunch meeting, we were all hustled off to watch a Cabbage Patch Baby being “born”. No sniggering was allowed.

I was quite pleased to be let out eventually and get back to the Orks and Warlocks. After the cabbage patch doll, they seemed quite sane.


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