Hong Kong prepares for Asia's largest toy fair

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The Independent Online

Asia's largest toy and game fair will open in Hong Kong on January 11 hoping to lift the spirits of an industry that has experienced wildly mixed fortunes over the past 12 months.

The Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair 2010 will run from January 11 to 14 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and its organizers, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, are saying there will be more than 2,000 toy and game makers showing off their wares.

This year's event is, for the first time, running concurrently with the Hong Kong International Licensing Show (http://hklicensingshow.hktdc.com) with the hope being that, combined, the two events can ignite an industry that has been hit hard by the world's recent economic turmoil.

The Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, in February is considered the largest toy fair in the world but China's southern Pearl River Delta (PRD) - of which Hong Kong is a part - is the main manufacturing base for the international toy trade. It has seen factory numbers dwindle from around 8,000 to 3,200 in 2009, according to trade figures.

However there are success stories out there too. The Zhu Zhu Pet (also known as Go Go Hamsters) - a basic-model robotic hamster - sold more than 10 million units in the US alone after being launched at the 2009 Hong Kong Toy and Games Fair and was manufactured in the PRD's Guangdong province.

Such was pre-Christmas demand for the toys that they were being offered on the internet auction site eBay for US$30 (€21) each when they had first appeared on the market for us US$8 (€5.50).

Meanwhile, the game industry - particularly the online variety - was one that appeared to be bulletproof during the worst of the world's recent economic decline and the Hong Kong Fair is seen as a gateway to the mainland Chinese market, which has been forecast to almost triple in size from 26 billion yuan (2.6 billion euros) in 2009 to more than 73 billion yuan (7.4 billion euros) by 2012.

Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair 2010

January 11-14

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition, Wan Chai