Nuremberg Toy Fair opens for business

1st February 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 February 2007, Nuremberg, Germany (dpa) - The Nuremberg Toy Fair opened for business Thursday, with chief organizer Ernest Kick predicting 79,000 trade buyers from 100 nations would check out the latest toys during its six-day run. An axiom of the world toy industry is that half the top products on offer have been on the market less than a year, prompting professional toy designers to constantly alter and update. With battery-powered electronics familiar throughout the toy range, that often means reprogr

1 February 2007

Nuremberg, Germany (dpa) - The Nuremberg Toy Fair opened for business Thursday, with chief organizer Ernest Kick predicting 79,000 trade buyers from 100 nations would check out the latest toys during its six-day run.

An axiom of the world toy industry is that half the top products on offer have been on the market less than a year, prompting professional toy designers to constantly alter and update.

With battery-powered electronics familiar throughout the toy range, that often means reprogramming the chips that make many of the toys walk, talk and squawk and demonstrating them to wholesale buyers.

US manufacturer Hasbro showed up at the annual fair, the toy industry's biggest worldwide, with a prototype of its next robotic pet, a back-chatting parrot: though the wires were still hanging out the back, Macaw's bright coloured plumage was complete.

But changeless toys, ranging from teddy bears to wooden blocks, also fill the catalogues of more than 2,700 exhibitors at the fair.

Experts estimated the companies were offering about 1 million separate products, with about 60,000 all new. Industry economists say about half of toy sales in western nations comprise these new products, with traditional toys of long standing making up the rest.

Meanwhile, plans by Maerklin, one of the world's leading model-train brands, to lay off factory staff and shift some of its manufacturing to low-cost Asian nations, were assailed Thursday by demonstrating workers at the Nuremberg Toy Fair.

However Ulrich Wlecke, chief executive of the German company, which is owned by Kingsbridge Capital of Britain, defended the cost-cutting plan as "unavoidable."

The protesters belonged to a workforce of 60 at Maerklin's factory in Nuremberg making Trix trains, a sub-brand which is especially popular among US toy-train collectors.

They said they were upset that 30 jobs were to be scrapped, with staff in Hungary and China to take over their functions.

Maerklin's main factory is in the German town of Goeppingen. It plans to close outright a plant at Sonneberg, Germany with 220 staff.

Wlecke said he did not dispute that the Sonneberg and Nuremberg sites had become very efficient, but the company had to cut costs overall, as other model-train manufacturers were doing, and aimed to ultimately produce 20 to 25 per cent of output at Asian factories.

DPA

Subject: German news

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