Hybrid Hour: Playing for Keeps

Kim Carcone on The Toy Association’s Launch of a New Digital Subscription Service and 10 Virtual Markets by Product Category

By Danica Tormohlen, Host of Hybrid Hour


Kim Carcone, Senior Vice President, Global Market Events, The Toy Association. Kim has worked at the association for 14 years, and she was promoted to this position after Marian Bossard retired in June. Most recently, she served as Vice President Market Events for four years.


She has been leading the charge in the digital space. The Toy Association was already active in the virtual world before the pandemic, but since then they have upped their game by launching three virtual markets in 2020 and then rolling out 10 virtual markets by product category in 2021, as well as an annual subscription service in February.

Ramping up digital in 2020:

“We launched a 24/7 tool years ago to have an b2b online presence. The idea can be there and the tech can be there, but the interest and buy in might not be ready.” But that changed in 2020. “We were able to bring three very successful digital events in summer 2020. We offered a low price point and tried to offer a transitional participation to help bridge the move into this change. We had over 200 companies with more than 10,000 products. We also had some guest speakers, trend predictions and robust content. It made it a place that buyers would want to come.”

White-glove service for exhibitors.

“For very little money, companies had the opportunity to have a digital marketplace. We repurposed our staff. Everyone on the team became a white glove service manager to help get exhibitors onboarded. Right now we are really designed for small and med-size companies, but we absolutely have some extremely well known brands and companies there, as well. We made ourselves available for nights and weekends and gave out cell numbers because so many smaller companies keep irregular hours. We wanted to be available to the industry we serve.”

Return to IRL:

Next up is the the Dallas Toy Fair Preview, which returns to October, but The Toy Association’s offices have been shut down since March 2020. “This will be the first time our team be producing a live event having been apart for so long. Being remote makes it challenging, but everyone is very positive! Our New York event is slated to happen in February 2022 in the newly renovated Javits Center. We are currently selling exhibit space. We are actively assigning space hoping to get back to February 2020 numbers!”

Timing is everything.

“Our market events are scheduled to reflect the buying market needs. For our product focused two-week markets, the price is $1,500 for members $2500 for nonmembers. They get a two-week move in period and two-week market participation. We have bundles to participate in two markets for $2700 for members and $4700 for nonmembers. Right now, there are more than 6,000 products from 77 brands with 70+ countries represented. We have over 2,000 unique buyers on the platform.”

Digital sub service.

“We opened up Toy Fair Everywhere, a revamped market with e-commerce capabilities, on Feb. 13 with an annual subscription that provides access 24/7. “The nonmember fee is $9500 annually and $7500 member fee. We offer discounts for those who participate in other events. It equates to a little over $30 a day to do business. We think it is very well positioned for the access we provide.”

Advice for others:

“If you have identified that digital is important to your industry, take a look at the providers out there who can support your goals with their technology. Talk to peers, talk to vendors, just talk! No one is saying that they’ll never do a live event again. Everyone is excited for live again, but digital is the No. 1 tool to bridge the international gap and keeps things moving.”

The future of hybrid:

“For us, digital isn’t an either/or. Digital is not a passing solution. It’s part of the future. We are currently looking to infuse digital into all of our live events. We just need to figure out the best way to do it. We are COMMITTED to this. We haven’t finalized our full digital infusion plan but since today’s the season finale of Clubhouse, I’ll leave this as a cliff hanger, and we can come back after the break and see what we do!.”

Feel like you missed out? Listen to the full #HybridHour with Kim Carcone.

For more background, read More Than Child’s Play: The Toy Association Launches Three Virtual Market Weeks.

Stay tuned for Season 2 of #HybridHour with Juno. Coming later this summer!

Danica Tormohlen is an Award-Winning Journalist, Content Strategist and Omnichannel Media Pro. For trade show industry news and analysis, follow her on Twitter @DanicaTormohlen.