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Toy Festival(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 10,2007)

Tip Top Toy Time



The Chinese mainland is a growing market for Hong Kong toy manufacturers, who have a well-deserved reputation for quality and innovation

A record 17 companies and 24 brands - many making their Chinese mainland debut - participated in the third edition of the recent Hong Kong Toys Festival 2007 in Shanghai.

The show at Shanghai's Grand Gateway from August 3-5 provided a graphic illustration of the ongoing evolution of the Hong Kong toy industry, which continues to spearhead industry and consumer trends.

For example, Hong Kong toys have retained their design integrity and put greater attention to educating and teaching children to think, so they can learn while they play.

These toys, which stimulate the mind and also satisfy children's physical and intellectual needs at different stages of development, were the highlight of the show.

Typical of the genre were the scientific solar energy series of toys produced by Toto Toys Ltd, which allow children to learn about and experiment with solar energy, and embrace an awareness of environmental protection and sustainable development by assembling toy models.

The small balls and the rods connecting the solar games are not easy to assemble, as each ball has 26 holes and can be connected to the rods at different angles.

They involve more than mere assembly as they require children to interact and think creatively while they play, encouraging them to use their imaginations to create all kinds of innovative possibilities.

Visitors were clearly impressed with these innovative toys, as well as the Micky Ball from Biba Toys, the only fitness ball in the world marketed for babies.

The Micky Ball's world-patented design allows babies to exercise safely and play games that could develop their intellectual faculties, the producers claim.

Elsewhere, visitors at one booth were encouraged to discover "miniature" cosmetics on a small beetle-shaped dressing table, while another exhibitor allowed them to design cartoon characters and have them printed on T-shirts with a click of the mouse.

Buyers believe a major advantage of Hong Kong toys such as these is their safety features, as Hong Kong manufacturers strictly adhere to international safety standards and most enjoy ISO 9000 certification.

Compared with foreign-imported toys, Hong Kong products suit the aesthetic tastes and psychological needs of Chinese mainland children, producers claim.

Hong Kong toys also lead mainland products in design, colour and production in the perception of consumers, and are extremely popular in Shanghai.

Indeed, some of the VSmile TV Learning System line of products from VTech (China) Trading Ltd were sold out on the opening day of the show, while the 1:24 die-cast cars produced by May Cheong Toy Products Fty Ltd and the Hornet digital helicopters produced by Silverlit Toys Mfy Ltd were also in demand.

The fair organisers set aside a hands-on area and a performance area for the three days of the show, dividing products from the 17 participating companies into three themes - Daily IQ Gains, Discovering with Fun and Hand-Brain Hyperlink.

Shanghai television children's show hostess Xiao He introduced the functions and features of different toys while child psychologist Dong Qing answered parents' questions on how to choose suitable toys.

The organisers also employed an English-language teacher who encouraged children to sing popular English songs and nursery rhymes like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Parents and children also came on stage to take part in a "Create a Soccer Star" competition.

Hong Kong is a major supplier to the mainland toys market, which is expected to grow at an annual rate of 40% with consumption predicted to exceed RMB100bn by 2010.

Hong Kong shipped toys worth US$1.15bn to the mainland in 2006 - a 104% increase over 2005 that made the mainland Hong Kong's fourth-largest export market, accounting for 11.6% of total toy exports.