More than 70 years of Spielwarenmesse eG – a success story
Join us as we look back at the most important milestones in our company history.
... a world-leading trade fair in the starting blocks
After the partition of Germany, toy manufacturers no longer have a suitable platform for presenting their products. Several bold and far-sighted entrepreneurs establish a German trade fair exclusively for toys in Nuremberg. The founders (from the left): Carl Ehmann (Märklin), Ernst Theodor Horn (Managing Director of Arbeitsgemeinschaft Spielwarenindustrie), Arno Drottboom (Director of VEDES), Hans Mangold (GAMA).
... premiere, logo and internationalisation
Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Ludwig Erhard, opens the first German Toy Fair in Nuremberg. From 12 to 18 March 1950, 351 companies exhibit to an audience of 4,300 buyers. Following a successful debut, the exhibition committee and 46 firms establish a cooperative. The members of the management board: Ernst Theodor Horn and Fritz Drescher. Max Scheerer is appointed Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
For the 2nd event, the German Toy Fair appears with a new logo. Graphic designer Viktor Kaltenbach creates a logo that unites the world of toys through the rocking horse and the city of Nuremberg, which is symbolised by the tower. Having undergone just a few layout changes over the years, the exhibition rocking horse has been the global trademark for the leading fair ever since.
In the continuing debate over whether to open the trade fair to an international audience, Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs Ludwig Erhard has the final word. In his speech at the opening ceremony of the German Toy Fair in 1957, he states: "I don’t want to see the word “German” here again next year!"
"I don’t want to see the word “German” here again next year!"Ludwig Erhard
When the "International Toy Fair Nürnberg” also invites international exhibitors to participate, 60 foreign companies are immediately recruited, bringing the overall total to 830 exhibitors. The number of foreign companies doubles the following year and subsequently continues to grow. A third of the 12,000 visitors wend their way to Germany from abroad.
... the trade fair grows and grows
In the 1960s, the toy fair continues to experience rapid growth. Following further expansion into the newly constructed exhibition buildings, the temporary and secondary buildings and lightweight halls, all available capacities are completely exhausted in and around the site near the city park. Negotiations over the construction of a new exhibition centre begin between the trade-fair management and the city of Nuremberg.
In 1963, the organiser supports its exhibitors with the first-ever Press Innovation Show. The special show gives journalists the opportunity to view the selected products of participating toy manufacturers. The media event becomes a regular feature in the years that follow. Now known as the “PressPreview”, it still takes place the day before the Spielwarenmesse.
... new exhibition centre and new visitor records
The International Toy Fair moves into the newly constructed exhibition centre in Nuremberg-Langwasser which was built in record time. The exhibition area climbs to 52,000m², providing enough space to organise the companies in product groups for the first time.
Dr. Benno Korbmacher assumes the role of Managing Director of Spielwarenmesse eG from 1974 to 1996. He negotiates with Messehallen GmbH, the precursor to today’s NürnbergMesse GmbH, for a further extension to the exhibition centre. The expansion of the fair also enables him to strengthen its global standing.
In 1977, visitor levels cross the 30,000 threshold for the first time. 1,567 toy manufacturers – 644 of which are international companies – show their wares at the fair, turning Nuremberg into the "Mecca" of the toy industry.
... party, more space, silver coins
On 14 December 1984, the “Frankenhalle” is opened as a multi-purpose hall. This adds an extra 10,000m² to the toy fair’s exhibition area.
The Toy Fair celebrates its 40th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the company has 100 commemorative coins minted in silver. The fair is opened by Bavaria’s Minister-President Max Streibl.
... more international, permanent stand concept, 50th anniversary
The toy fair becomes increasingly international, and the number of exhibitors exceeds the 2,000 mark: 938 of the 2,078 companies are from abroad. Of the 51,140 visitors, 15,737 come to the fair from outside Germany.
Gerd Bise is the first trade-fair expert to take the helm of Spielwarenmesse eG from 1996 to 2002. During this period, the company modernises its marketing activities, expands its international network of representatives and extends the cooperative’s business operations.
As the fair steps up its global marketing activities, a modified event name and logo are required. In all communications and public relations work in 1998, the leading trade fair refers to itself as "Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg".
In 1998, an innovative permanent stand concept in Hall 12.2 adds a totally new dimension and quality to stand design. Around 30 international companies, including world-renowned brand leaders, rent the stand space all year round, using it, among others, as a showroom.
The Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg celebrates its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, it publishes the book “50 Years of the International Toy Fair Nürnberg. A History of Success.”
... new head, innovations and partnerships
Over the years, many guests of honour have graced the fair with their presence. Gerhard Schröder becomes the first-ever Chancellor of Germany to appear at the event, opening the 52nd Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg in 2001.
Ernst Kick becomes head of the fair, bringing to the company many years of experience in the exhibition business. He pushes on with the internationalisation of business operations by forging partnerships, acquiring company interests and founding subsidiaries. Under his leadership, the company strengthens its world-leading role.
The exhibition team launches a strategy to enable exhibitors to showcase their innovations more effectively. The existing innovation show – the PressPreview – is complemented with the InnovationCenter in Hall 4 and the InnovationGuide. Exhibitors can also enter the ToyAwards for the first time. A jury of experts awards the accolade to the most innovative products across several categories.
The cooperative launches World of Toys by Spielwarenmesse eG, a unique international exhibition programme designed to enable Spielwarenmesse eG’s customers to show at exhibition pavilions in the most alluring toy markets around the world. A cooperation agreement is forged with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, paving the way for the programme’s launch at the Hong Kong Toys & Games 2009.
The Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg celebrates its 60th anniversary with more than 3,000 guests at the CCN Ost and in the city centre.
... subsidiaries, foreign fairs and a new exhibition format
Spielwarenmesse eG announces plans to stage its first own trade fair on foreign soil. Kids India, an exhibition for toys, baby products, licensed products, sports goods, leisure and hobby articles, debuts in Mumbai from 24 to 26 October 2013.
The term “Spielwarenmesse” is listed as a registered brand in Germany and becomes the only name for the leading trade fair.
In June 2014 year, Spielwarenmesse eG announces plans to open Insights-X, a new expo for paper, office supplies and stationery, in response to demand from the stationery industry.
In October 2015, Spielwarenmesse eG celebrates the successful debut of Insights-X, featuring 188 exhibitors dealing in office supplies, back-to-school and hobby products.
In 2016, Spielwarenmesse eG steps up its presence in India. The exhibition organiser opens Spielwarenmesse India Pvt. Ltd. in New Dehli on 1 April 2016, establishing a subsidiary in a growth market of global significance. At the same time, the new company is tasked with organising Kids India in Mumbai, which continues to grow.
In July 2017, Spielwarenmesse eG moves into its new headquarters in the business park “Gewerbepark Nürnberg-West”. The team and the subsidiary Die Roten Reiter find a new home in the listed and renovated building on the former site of the Em-Eukal cough sweet factory.
The Spielwarenmesse celebrates its 70th anniversary with a plethora of events at the exhibition centre.
... new leadership trio, digitalisation, portfolio expansion
In spring 2020, SEG Beteiligungs GmbH was founded to bundle various participations by Spielwarenmesse eG. Jens Pflüger has since acted as managing director of SEG Beteiligungs GmbH, which also includes the building investment in the company's headquarters, the Westpark.
New Executive Board: The new three-strong team comprising Florian Hess, Jens Pflüger and Christian Ulrich (Spokesperson) are taking over the helm of Spielwarenmesse eG on 1 July. All three Executive Board Members have gathered many years’ experience at the company, having been involved in important decision-making processes along the way.
In October 2021 Spielwarenmesse eG announces that the successful "Internationale Spieleerfindermesse" will move from Haar to Nuremberg. Under the addition of the "Game Inventors Convention", it will be held in future as part of the Spielwarenmesse on the Friday of the fair. Thanks to the close exchange between the two cooperation partners, the typical character of the event, at which game designers present their prototypes to experienced game editors in an exclusive atmosphere, is retained.
Spielwarenmesse eG takes over the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL event in Essen on 1 January 2022 and maintains its traditional focus.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Spielwarenmesse Digital will be held for the first time at the familiar exhibition date at the beginning of February 2022. In addition to new product innovations, the digital networking platform offers interesting livestreams and is set to digitally supplement the on-site fair in the future.
In October 2022, Spielwarenmesse eG expands its activities in the licensing business and rounds off its portfolio with BRANDmate. Eva Stemmer and Christian Ulrich are Managing Directors of the newly founded BRANDmate GmbH.