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Editor Imogen Bailey reflects on her experience at Toy Fair Digital. 

It was the first of its kind in 56 years - a 100% digital toy fair. 

Awards, meetings, business and info sessions all conducted digitally across thousands of kilometres, instead of in one place. 

And for the first go at a digital show, I'd say overall it went pretty well. 

According to the ATA's stats, over 70 exhibitors showcased their new products to over 3,500 buyers and visitors from the UK, Europe, US and Asia-Pacific. 

As I've previously written, the awards stream was conducted in an efficient and professional manner, with winners able to give a quick thanks to their team and partners. 

The information sessions were abundant and easy to access. 

Toy & Hobby Retailer's own stream with the Rising Star finalists went off without a hitch and had 40 viewers tuning in throughout the course of the chat. You can catch up on the stream here. 

While I did encounter some technical glitches throughout the week – although I think that was my patchy internet (of course it goes on the blink the one week I needed it not to!) – for the most part, my meetings on the platform went smoothly.

As we've become accustomed to over the past year, technical glitches tend to happen with any video conferencing software. It's almost standard now; we've all experienced drop outs, audio or video lag and a weak connection, and we're pretty desensitised to it. 

But one of the things we took for granted about physical events in general, is the lack of a need for a communication backup. 

That will always be the chink in a digital show's armour; if there are problems, people can switch to a different channel easily.  

When it comes to feedback from exhibitors, I was thrilled to hear that the platform helped them connect with new customers. 

In fact, nearly every exhibitor I met with had mentioned that they had made new connections on the platform. 

I was also wowed by the high standards of virtual presentations and showrooms. 

I got to 'walk' through showrooms, watch animated videos of products and view product presentations from some familiar faces. 

This commitment to investing in high-quality presentations shows me that the industry has embraced the digital way of doing things. 

But, I think it's safe to say that we're all itching to get back to an in-person show. 

While a digital fair is a great substitute and much better than no fair at all, the buzz of an in-person show is difficult to replicate in a digital environment. 

So, it's music to the ears to hear that the ATA is hoping to hold the Sydney Mid-Year Preview as a face-to-face event. 

Everyone I spoke to throughout the digital show expressed their interest in attending that Fair if it were held in-person, meaning that the traditionally smaller Mid Year Preview may have a larger footprint this year. 

So, fingers crossed to actually see you in June!

In the meantime, my inbox, phone, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Skype etc. are open for news.  

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