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29 Oct 2008

How to Infiltrate a Toy Fair

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It doesn't sound so hard to sneak into a toy fair. It's not like breaching the G8 summit or attending a meeting of the Bilderberg group. Essen Spiel is, as we've repeatedly been told, a family event – something that is open to everyone from toddlers to grannies. Everyone that is, except us.

Our initial plan was just to go as visitors. Meet people, talk shop, take a look around, all that stuff. But as soon as we arrived and saw what else was on offer, a whole new plan started to take shape. After all, we may be banned from exhibiting War on Terror, but no one said anything about anyone else.

For the first three days, we moved like networking ninjas in shadows, stealthily picking our way from one covert meeting to the next, gathering intelligence with all the zeal and determination of an Iraqi prison officer working on commission. We had very promising chats about our next game and about the possibility of both French and German versions of War on Terror but best of all we persuaded ten shops around the fair to trial WoT on the last day of Spiel.

Until then, our genial host and new best friend, Holger from the Fantasy En'counter games shop in Essen was acting as trailblazer, being the only trader selling War on Terror from day one. The lack of heat from The Man was encouraging and in fact War on Terror was Holger's single biggest seller. Would we, we wondered, be able to replicate Holger's success all over the fair?

Sunday rolled around all-too-quickly. We had our intelligence list, a little trolley and a van full of games parked outside. All we had to do was race round the halls delivering games before we got caught and thrown out.

Amazingly no one noticed anything suspicious. We even pushed our trolley full of War on Terror right under Dominique Metzler's (Spiel boss) nose as she gave a radio interview. Seems as if everyone was too occupied to notice our shennanigans.

By the time we'd completed a single round, it was time to check on the first shop again. Everyone was happily reporting lots of interest. One Dutch shop who had immediately set about making a War on Terror pyramid had already sold 9 games and needed re-enforcements for a larger foundation.

It wasn't until half way through the day, as we were pushing around open boxes of WoT, turning heads whenever we trundled past, that we realised we had a kind of mobile stand. A bit of sellotape, a few postcards and literally dozens of seconds later and we pimped out our very own 'TerrorCart' - striking ridiculousness and sickness into the heart of what is traditionally the 'family day' at Essen. And then imagine our mischievous delight when we found that one exhibitor had packed up early and left an empty booth just ripe for squatting. We did it. We got our stand at Essen.

While we hardly broke the bank (they're doing that well enough themselves right now), we did feel a little surge of triumph as we ended the day, collecting cash and chatting to happy shop owners who all promised to carry on stocking WoT. Against the odds, we infiltrated the largest game fair in the world, escaped unscathed, no man down.

We'd like to extend our sincere and heartfelt thanks once again to Holger for allowing three strange Brits to sleep on his floor and for all the kindness, support and help he gave us. It's the unequivocal geneoristy of these random friends we meet and make around the world that keep us going and make it all worthwhile.

Onto Lucca!

Posted by TerrorBull Games on 29 October 2008 - 0 comments

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