It seems like only yesterday I was reporting from Autumn Fair 2009, but yesterday I was back at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre to see its big sister, Spring Fair International 2010.
For the first week every February, Spring Fair takes up all 20 halls of the NEC to become the UK's most important showcase for the greetings, gift and homeware industries. Exhibitors and buyers from all round the world congregate to do millions of pounds' worth of trade and show off the very best in contemporary design.
Due to its size, it's impossible to go round and see everything in one day, so I just stick to my main areas of interest, which are greetings, art and contemporary gifts. Okay, maybe a few toys...
Over the next few days I'm going to share my pick of the best new products with you. Without a doubt, I've ticked off far more names on my exhibitors' list to follow up than I've ever done before.
For today, though, the blog's about something that I know will get many hearts a-fluttering. The excitement started as soon as I stepped into the piazza, got handed my show guide and saw this bee-you-tiful sight on the back cover...
Wow! Stuff are a Wolverhampton-based company that specialise in scientific toys, gadgets and puzzles themed around great British institutions such as The Science Museum, Mensa, Top Gear and Wallace and Gromit. To tie in with Matt Smith taking over the lead role, they now have a licence for Doctor Who merchandise, which is so new it isn't even mentioned on their website yet!
The new range was debuted at The Toy Fair at Olympia, London, in January, and is expected to hit the shops in October.
- Desktop Patrol Dalek: With inbuilt sensors to stop it bumping into things or falling off the edge of the table. A bit of a throwback to the classic Rolykins Dalek from the 1960s that my brother used to torment me with when I was a kid, to the point where our Mum made him get rid of it. Years later they were selling for hundreds of pounds. Serves him right. Sorry, I digress.
- Adipose Stress Toy: Self-explanatory, a squishy Adipose doll.
- Sonic Screwdriver: An accurate replica of the new one that Matt will be using but I'm afraid I wasn't able to get a close enough look to confirm whether it's the gadget version or the rumoured pen.
- Following Cyberman: A Cyberman's head whose eyes have the effect of following you round the room.
- TARDIS Emergency Fund: A small TARDIS on a keyring, that you can keep some folded up money in.
- Also, not on the Doctorwhotoys list, I saw a Spinning TARDIS, which seems to be some sort of magnetic repulsion toy that makes the model TARDIS spin above its base.
I should point out that I only saw them in their boxes, they weren't out on full display or being demonstrated. So I can't totally vouch for the details and there may have been other products there that didn't catch my eye as readily.
No photographs have been issued of these items, but I can tell you they look extremely classy indeed. They nearly all have an unpainted chrome finish and seem very durable.
This will also be the first time we'll get to see the new series' logo being used in packaging and, on this range, it comes across as very sophisticated. The box is in a simple blue, black and white colour scheme with the logo running across the top and a section cut away so you can see the product. There's no picture of Matt on the front.
I imagine these will be aimed squarely at the dads and elder children (that's not to say there aren't plenty of women who'd have fun with them, of course!) If you're lucky you may find an official Wow! Stuff product demonstrator and/or promotional video in your local stockist this autumn.
I'll update you with any information that appears on the Wow! Stuff website. You may also like to read the Drwhofigures verdict on this and the other new Series 5 merchandise promoted at the Olympia Toy Fair.