In a year where CK noticed a large influx of manufacturers presence in Essen Spiel, we give you a quick rundown of some of the manufacturers who were there at last year’s edition of Spiel.
Essen Spiel 2019 – Manufacturing Galore!
Event: Spiel 2019
Location: Messe Essen, Germany
Dates: 24-27 October, 2019
When I first got into the boardgaming hobby back in 2005, all the games were still produced in Germany (or other parts of Europe). Made in China for Euro boardgames have not happened yet.
Not too long after that, some of the larger publishers started to explore the option of having their titles manufactured in China. The early years (2006-2007) were full of teething problems. The perception was that quality was a step-down from those made in Germany.
Fast forward 10+ years and today you can hardly find any board game produced in Germany (or Europe). All of them have (comfortably) became “Made in China”.
In our first trip to Essen Spiel back in 2012, you can hardly find any Asian manufacturers setting up booth in the Messe Hall even though (at that time and from my guesstimates), more than half the board games were produced thru China. I did see Ludo Fact’s booth then but other than them, hardly any other manufacturers.
I suppose the lack of presence could be attributed to 1) most of these productions were handled by proxy publishers/producers who were Europe-based (hence there was no need for the manufacturers to set up camp thousand of miles West to promote their services), and 2) the board game industry has yet to enter the recent BoomTime where the demand for production has risen exponentially that it now makes good biz sense to go where the
spice flows source is to grab more direct biz!
But it seems every manufacturers here in Essen now!
A bit of exaggeration I know but from last couple of years, I did notice there’s a large influx of manufacturers (mostly from China) setting up booth in Spiel.
I suppose Good Times are here now! 😀
Here let me give you a quick pictorial tour of the manufacturers I came across on our 2019 Essen Spiel trip. There are a number of notable ones I did not get their pictures – Ludofact, Broadway, Panda etc. Hopefully this gives you an idea of how much that manufacturing landscape has evolved for the boardgame industry.
Boardgamecafe.net makes no endorsement of any of the publishers or manufacturers mentioned in this article. 😛
MPC otherwise known as MakePlayingCards.com – part of the QP Group – specializes in printing playing cards. I’ve checked out the sample cards at their booth and quality’s good (disclaimer: this is not an endorsement).
They’ve been around since 1982 (seems like they are around the longest among all those I’ve met) and they claim they can even do small print runs which is a boon for startup game designers, no?
EFKO is one of the few who are not based in China, but from the Czech Republic. They started off in toy production and have now ventured into the boardgame industry.
If you are wondering how’s their boardgame production quality and capability, then let’s just say the recent Spielworxx titles – Yinzi, Auf der Walz, Throne of Allegoria and die Macher – were all produced by Efko.
Gameland (China) is one of those hybrid manufacturer/publisher who also produces their own line of toys/games. They do have their own factory so they’ll be able to do manufacturing-only if that’s what you need.
If you are a game designer/developer, do ask for their Game Developer Sample Kit, which provides samples of their work for you to check out. They also claim the Sample Kit is not just a sample but it’s also a “Game fo Game Designer“! Curious much? 😛
Based in China, Starry Games does dice and miniatures so if your game requires these do check them out. They count Disney and Mattel among their customers so you are in esteemed company. tsk tsk.
Whatz Games is from Shanghai but has an office in Paris. They are of the newer batch of manufacturers who didn’t start with toys/classic games but went straight into the boardgame manufacturing line.
Here are some of the games produced by them
Hmm.. ok this one’s a little different. They are not manufacturers per se but more of a community of makers and designers where their members share their 3D models for others to peruse / buy.
Some are free (see ROOT Miniatures) and some are paid items. What they do promised is “guaranteed 3D printable”.
Above: These are the unofficial ROOT miniatures (free digital file) to replace your cardboard tokens. Looks cool eh? Now who can print me a set? 😛
Above: This Cadaver Collector is one of those “paid” 3D model. There are a lot more of these. Check them out here.
MyMiniFactory has an interesting proposition especially if you are a game designer/developer or maker in the 3D model space. Do check them out
“Enable a decentralized ecosystem for 3D creatives that promotes freedom through our shared values.”
Sky Game – based out of Shanghai – manufactures for Giochix (Italy) and Compass Games. They are relatively new – having been formed in 2011 – but are certainly riding on the wave of the recent boardgame boom to grow their business.
Started with production of playing cards, poker accessories and now boardgames. They are one of the newer batch of manufacturers coming onboard the boardgame train.
Royalwill from Ningbo, China is one of the few manufacturers I came across in this Spiel that offers low MOQ (min order quantity) as low as 500 sets. This is certainly helpful for the starting game designers.
Hongsheng Printing. Another manufacturer who’s okay to do low MOQ for your game production. Just 500 sets will do. hopefully this will see more designers encouraged to get their 1st print run to the market. 🙂
Lijia Games have been around since 1995. They are one of the few who also does metal miniatures ie metal coins (ooh!). Now I know where those metal tokens from Monooply came from. 😛
Longpack. One of the more established – and earlier-to-Essen – manufacturers. They are ever-present in Essen Spiel and other major boardgame conventions.
Note: These are not ALL the manufacturers who were present at Spiel19. There were some I didn’t manage to snap a picture and the notable absentees were Panda Game Manufacturing, Broadway Toys and Ludofact.
The composition of Essen exhibitors are continuing to evolve (from our first drop-in back in 2012). While it’s still very much a boardgaming convention (over 1,500 new games were introduced here in 2019 attested to the gaming side), it’s also going back to become more of a business fair where publishers, distributors, retailers, designers, developers and now manufacturers gather over 4-day to do business.
Next Essen is set for 22-25 October, 2020. Mark these dates down in your calendar. I hope this write-up has been informative for you. Stay tune for more Essen Spiel 2019 reports from us.
For more Essen Spiel reports:
For more photos of our Essen Spiel 2019 trip, visit our Flickr Spiel19 Collection.
Next Essen Spiel
22-25 October, 2020
Categories: Essen Spiel
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