International Toy Fair Nuremberg 2007
Internationale Spielwarenmesse Nürnberg 2007


I was planning to go to Nürnberg (Nuremberg) by car, but the week before the fair would start the weather conditions in Southern Gernany suddenly changed with heavy snow fall hindering traffic, even on the high ways. With no winter tires, I thought it would not be safe to go by car, apart from the illegal side of it as a new law requires these when winter conditions occur. The ICE (International Train Express) brought me comfortably from Amsterdam to Nürnberg in about the same time (7 hours), with a speed occasionally up to 170 kilometers per hour on the day before the fair would start. No changing trains was necessary for the whole 700 kilometers, I could just relax and enjoy the German landscape till Nürnberg, where I had to take a local train to a small village some 10 kilometers away where I had booked my hotel. Having checked in in the early afternoon, I decided to go back to Nürnberg and see something of the town itself, something I had no opportunity for on earlier occasions.

Nürnberg has a really nice Altstadt, an old city center, with a large shopping area. The overall atmosphere is very friendly, and coming to speak of it, I must confess it always feels a bit like coming home when staying in Germany. There is a lot of tradition and values that the Dutch have lost or are neglecting, so it feels good to see that there are places that still have these. The city still has many old buildings, and the most prominent might be the medieval castle near the center on walking distance from all the shops.
This imperial castle is one of the most important castles of the Middle Ages. Between 1050 and 1571 it hosted the gatherings of the court and juridical sessions of all German emperors and Kings of the Holy Roman Emire. When playing games with an ancient theme, and looking at the illustrations, one might think that these kind of buildings are mainly fantasy and made up. They probably are, but here, you can look around and see ample proof of their existance, serving as an example to the illustrators!
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Of course the fair does not go by unnoticed in the town itself. Major shops have their windows adjusted to the Toy Fair, and next to the entrance to the old city banners are hanging from one of the medieval towers. The importance of the fair can be taken from the fact that the ceremonial openening on the eve of the fair was done both by the mayor of the town, as well as the Bayern Prime Minister dr. Stoiber. The mayor held a very lively and humorous speech and gave the result of a query where he stated that the fair is mentioned as number two by the inhabitants of Nürnberg when asked what they thought most representative of Nürnberg. On number one however was the local Bratwurst, ‘3 im Weckla’, a three sausage with mustard bread roll. But the mentioning of the Toy Fair was way ahead of number three, the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus, the still present house in Nürnberg where the famous German painter Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) lived, also famous for his copper drypoints and wood carvings.

The mayor more seriously hoped that the human interaction in toys would not disappear, and asked the industry for business with a social conscience, as it would be a very weird thing to have a kid play with a toy made in China that would be made through child’s labour. Prime Minister dr. Stoiber held a more tedious speech, touching the issue of employment, and trying to boost his damaged image by introducing the proposal for a law that would forbid selling toys containing agressive topics (video games) to youngsters. How he thought such a law could be implemented, remained unspoken after the ensuing applause. Ah, politicians!

On the way back to the hotel in the U-bahn (subway) a young lad told the girl next to him how he would disguise himself for Fasching, the yearly carnival that this year is held from the 16th to the 20st of February. His choice was to go as Harry Potter, but looking at him and saving make-up it would be more advisable to use the invisibility cloack...
German television offered the 'usual' German plays, with always very good acting and with nice plots. Also there was the German Golden Camera Award, a real great event in Germany. Another great event occurred during the weekend, as Germany unexpected qualified for the World Champion Final in handball, which they subsequently won in a very exciting match against Poland! More on a local level, television also covered a short item on a championship ‘imitating deer sounds’ with Waldhorns and Röhre, with the winner getting a rifle!

...and the Fair
When on the Spielwarenmesse, it is wise to focus only on the things you came for. Otherwise you would get lost by the massive information brought to you by the 2800 exhibitors from 60 countries and the 60.000 new toys, all neatly organised in an 800 page catalog that these days will act as your Bible! From the 17 large halls of the Toy Fair only two and a half were visited in two days time, as these were the halls were the board games publishers had their stands. As it was pleasingly quiet in the hallways, the stands itself where quite crowded. Many of the publishers had lots of employees around to help and inform you on any of the games. Overall, personal preference prevailed; therefore this is not a complete report but efforts are made to be as extensive as possible on the games covered.
The publishers:

Californian Products
Days of Wonder
Hans im Glück
Huch & Friends
Identity Games
Pegasus Spiele
Phalanx Games
Pro Ludo
Queen Games
Schmidt Spiele
The Game Master
Winning Moves