BrettSpiel is a blog about board game design, written by game designer Brett J. Gilbert.

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Report: UK Toy Fair 2009

The UK’s annual Toy Fair ended today after a four-day run at the ExCeL centre in London’s Docklands.

Although the fair has plenty more toys than its does actual games, it’s still worth a visit for the game enthusiast, and anyone interested in the industry. I went along on Thursday and here are just a few of the things that caught my eye…

LEGO board games

High atop the large LEGO stand was an intriguing black-box meeting room, which was clearly hiding some important business secrets. The not-so-cryptic decoration suggested some very interesting possibilities.

No-one on the stand would tell me exactly what was hidden up there, but I was told that all would be revealed in August. Well, the news has broken rather sooner than that and it’s clear that LEGO are moving into the roll-and-move family board game market. And those LEGO dice sure look neat!

Army of Zero

I had a really nice chat with Steve Mainprize (what a great name for a gamer!), who is the designer and publisher of the new Army of Zero card game. I had spotted the game only a few days before attending the fair on BoardGameGeek and BGDF so was on look out for his stand.

Steve has very much taken the game-publishing bull by the horns and has single-handedly brought his game to market. As someone harbouring a similar dream it was inspiring to hear about his experience and see his game in the flesh. Steve said that getting this far had been twice as much work as he’d thought and that he knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to get the game marketed and distributed (that’s the bit that gives me nightmares!) but he was clearly passionate about his product.

Win, lose or draw, it’s a great story. Good luck Steve!

Richard Edward — UK playing card printers

And speaking of producing my own game, I also had a really productive chat with a very helpful and informed rep for Richard Edward, a UK-based playing card printers. They are based in south London and call themselves the UK’s only ‘wholly integrated card manufacturer’ — which I think means that unlike their competitors they can do everything in house, including packaging.

It was fun talking to them and also very educational — I learnt a new phrase: ‘integrated euro hook’. That's what the ‘cardboard sticky-out bit with a hole in it’ part of a card game tuckbox is called by those in the know.

Qb Word Game

And last but not least I also spoke to John Chambers of JC Games Ltd, who was there to promote his new twist on the dice-based word game, succinctly called Qb. It looks like a really nice package and deserves to do well.

Hi Brett, thanks for the kind mention, and nice to meet you last week. When we were chatting at the Toy Fair, I had a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that there was already an adage about stuff taking longer than you expected, so I looked it up: it's actually called Hofstadter's Law:

"It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take Hofstadter's Law into account."

How true, how true...

Steve Mainprize
Point Zero Games

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