Toy and Game Expo 2014
Hello there! Last weekend Patrick and Eleanor flew to Sydney to attend the Toy and Game Expo 2014 – one of Australia’s only public expos with the latest in toys, games, and hobbies. We had a lot of fun and would recommend it to anyone in the Sydney area around July next year. Also, congratulations to the winners of our little competition from the last article, and a big shout out to Phoebe Netto from the TAGE crew for supplying those cool prizes!
Upon entering the expo, we were met pretty much straight away by an amazing Meccano display just inside the main entrance. To name just a few of the amazing structures built by extremely dedicated hobbyists, there was a Hammerhead Crane (Scale model of the Garden Island Naval Dockyard Crane), a steam train, a carousel ride and number of different engine structures. Almost all of the structures were moving. We also met John Thompson, a Meccano aficionado, who has been building Meccano since 1946 and now is part of the NSW Meccano Modellers Association. He built the steam train pictured.
RC crew, a radio control hobby store in Sydney also had a massive stall towards the back of the expo featuring model trucks, cars, and helicopters. At some point during the day they took a couple of models outside for a demonstration – a very skilled RC crew member was able to pilot the model helicopter upside down, perform tricks and exercise some very fine control!
We located the miniatures table fairly quickly and chatted with the staff there about X-Wing Miniatures, War Machine and Warhammer, all of which were featured in their stall. We also had the pleasure of witnessing a twist on usual Warhammer convention where the staff hosted a mock-battle using Lord of the Rings Lego instead of regular warhammer. Thanks to Eric and Gerard for all of the displays and for actually convincing Pat to buy X-Wing miniatures!
The largest proportion of the expo was dedicated to boardgames, with exhibits by Treefrog, Mayfair, Indie Boards and Cards, Plaid Hat Games, and more, all featuring boardgames available for play!
In addition, there were quite a few stalls featuring their own made game, like Ortuga – “The Most Exciting Family Board Game on the Seven Seas!”. Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to test this claim, but the staff there were definitely a strong contender for the best dressed exhibitors.
At one point, we got invited up to the stage to play a timed round of Viewpoint (93 Made Games) with a few other people, including a 9 year old. The game played a bit like Sopio but with a theme of vision and perspective (with cards like Spectacles, Blind Spot, and Blurred Vision). Viewpoint involves playing cards into your own score area (with effects targeting other players) with the aim of getting to 100 points first. The youngling blew everyone else out of the water at 95 points when the buzzer went off!
Finally, we arrived at the games library. Boy, what a sight for sore eyes. Tables and tables of people playing games and having fun, shelves and shelves of classic, new and boutique boardgames. The library included but was in no way limited to: Settlers of Catan (all expansions), Pirates Cove, Connect 4, Race for the Galaxy, Acquire, Days of Steam, Dominion, Small World, Hive, White Water, St.Petersburg… the list goes on.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Melissa Rogerson, Co-Chair of Boardgames Australia, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to promote gaming as a hobby in Australia, and also to build the games and game design industry. They take a strong interest in the Protospiel at the expo, a channel for game designers to bring new games for play testing and critique. The organisation also hosts annual boardgame awards at the Expo (inspired by the Spiel des jahres) for best children’s game, best Australian game and best International game.
This year, the awards went to:
- Best Kids Game: Tales and Games: The Three Little Pigs (2013)
- Best Australian Game: Relic Runners (2013)
- Best International Game: Bruges (2013)
TOYS & DISPLAYS
The expo is a big hit for kids, with lots of fun activities, games and toys available for testing and purchase (usually at some expo discount). We tended not to pay too much attention but for those interested there was a fantastic Nerf play pit which was basically the Hunger Games with nerf guns: A bunch of kids and adults running around shooting darts at each other in a blow up battle arena. Also featured at the expo was a small go-kart arena, a Lego stall, foam swords, and Microchargers.
There were a number of great performances on stage, but our favourite was Alekasam! a young performance magician. His stage personality was fun, comical with a satirical twist – child-friendly but also very accessible for adults. He made a full coke bottle appear out of thin air, resuscitated a dead Lion King balloon and even ate a balloon to get a card with someone’s name on it out of his stomach – the “most dangerous card trick ever”.
Overall, the Toy and Game Expo was a magnificent demonstration of Australia’s toy, hobby and game enthusiasm and game design talent with many incredible displays of new games and fun activities. For people thinking of going next year, we suggest going in groups of about 5 or 6 to make the best possible use of the games library and new game demonstrations. Once again, thanks to Steve Rohan-Jones and the rest of the organising committee, we had a lot of fun.