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Episodes

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Towards More Effective Communicate: Matt Abrahams O
December 1,,2023

 

Listen in on this great conversation as Chris talks to Matt Abrahams, author of Think Faster, Talk Smarter. Abrahams discusses the book and how people can be more effective communicators, whether as managers, colleagues...or pitching a product.

 

Matt Abrahams is a leading expert in communication with decades of experience as an educator, author, podcast host, and coach. He teaches at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and he has his own podcast Think Fast, Talk Smart: The Podcast.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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Remembering Richard Gottlieb: A very special Playground Podcast episode, O
November 25,,2023

 

Richard Gottlieb's death on October 26 from ALS was a blow for the people who knew and loved him, the toy industry, and, of course, this podcast.

 

In this short segment, Chris remembers and honors Richard and all his contributions, his amazing spirit and kindness, and much more.

 

We also talk a bit about continuing this show both to serve the industry and to honor Richard's memory.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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John Tong: Hong Kong, Opportunities and the Future, O
October 13,,2023

 

Chris talks to John Tong, chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council Toys Advisory committee. (Just one element of his diverse career.) They talk about Toy Fairs, opportunities in Hong Kong and how Hong Kong is coming back as a business center and gateway to Asia coming out of the pandemic.

The conversation was recorded at New York Toy Fair, and Richard and Chris divided and conquered to see as much of the show as possible...and find new guests for the rest of the season.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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A Change in the Era: A Chat with Litzky PR
October 7,,2023

 

Richard and Chris talk with Michele Litzky and Josslynne Welch about the history of Litzky Public Relations, the evolution of PR over the past quarter century, and the transition as Josslynne takes over the reins of the company.

It's a great conversation about toy industry history, succession planning, and much more. Listen in as we talk to two major players in the toy industry.

(Apologies for the cellphone going off. We didn't want to edit that out. Just pretend you're at a Broadway theater and annoyed. That's what Chris would do.)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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Mary Couzin: Creating a Community in The Toy Biz
September 28,,2023

 

Chris and Richard talk to Mary Couzin about her career, the creation of People of Play, the upcoming 21st edition of the Chicago Toys & Games Fair, and the Young Inventors Challenge.

It's an energetic conversation, and you'll see why from her passion for play and the business to all she does why she's joining the Toy Industry Hall of Fame this year.

Listen in...and get as excited as we are about Mary and her work.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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25 Years of Winning: Eric Poses of All Things Equal Games
September 18,,2023

 

Chris talked with Eric Poses of All Things Equal Games about the 25th Anniversary of Leading Questions and his repeat of the cross-country car trip he did to launch the game in 1997. We caught up with him just as he was leaving. for 22 cities, with a stop at New York Toy Fair.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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Gaming the Industry: Elan Lee of Exploding Kittens
August 28,,2023

 

Richard and Chris talk with game inventor Elan Lee about his hugely successful game Exploding Kittens, developing great games, and his new line of Kitten Games, which Elan developed with his 4-year-old daughter.

This high-energy conversation will have you thinking about what makes a good game in the current market. Elan is also hugely entertaining and thoughtful about the role of games in our lives.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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Innovation & The Playful Life: Brendan Boyle of Fuse London
August 5,,2023

 

Serial inventor, professor, inveterate innovator and advocate of play Brendan Boyle of Fuse London joins us for a lively and wide-ranging conversation.

From his early career to his current gig with Fuse, Brendan has been a joyful advocate of play for kids, for organizations and for enhancing life overall.

Join us for a super fun episode.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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Toy Zone: Alex Prieto, Director of Fun on The Company, The FUture of Play... and More
June 20,,2023

 

Chris and Richard talk to Alex Prieto, who calls himself director of fun for Toy Zone. Of course, he does much more than that. Listen in as the wide-ranging conversation covers current issues, running a global company, AI, and what may be ahead for this company as we come out of the pandemic.

Toy Zone defines itself as a 360° Toy & Entertainment Agency… we truly cover all areas of creative, design, development and sourcing a Toy Company or Entertaiment Brand needs to bring their products or IP to market. In just 4 years Toy Zone has grown from 3 including Alex, to a team of 35 creative minds, app game developers, product engineering, 3D animators, motion graphics and marketing specialists. Check them out here.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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Tik Tok, Innovation, and a Millennial-run Company: Jessica Kalichman of WowWee
June 8,,2023

 

Chris and Richard, with Richard on the keys, have a conversation with Jessica Kalichman, director of marketing for WowWee about her career, the company's use of Tik Tok both to market and create community. They talk about why it works, what social media reveals, how a company run by Milliennials is different, and how engaging consumers with the real folks behind the scenes at a toy company (and behind some very popular toys) has been a winning strategy.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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AI, Invention & More: Dan Klitsner, Inventor of Bop-It
April 25,,2023

 

Join Richard (on the keys) and Chris as they talk with inventor Dan Klitsner, creator of Bop-It about his newest puzzle Free Fall from ThinkFun. They talk about this new innovation, the challenges and rewards of inventing and delve into the topic of AI and what it might mean for creatives and everyone in the toy business. You won't want to miss this lively conversation.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, and Beacon Media Group

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Madame Alexander Turns 100! A Chat with David Morgenstern
March 10, 2023

 

We kick of season five of The Playground Podcast with Madame Alexander's VP of sales, David Morgenstern. Richard, Chris, and guest host Chris Bensch from The Strong Museum of Play chat about this history, the legend, and what's new for the next chapter in the life of this iconic brand.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Beacon Media Group and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

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Report from Hong Kong: Direct from the Toys and Games Fair
January 13, 2023

 

Chris was back in Hong Kong for the 49th annual Toys & Games Fair… for the first time since 2020. Listen to what’s going on at the Fair—and hear the folks who are making the most of this transitional edition.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Beacon Media Group and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

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Getting Ready for Nuremberg: Christian Ulrich of Spielwarenmesse
January 6, 2023

 

Richard and Chris talk to Christian Ulrich from Spielwarenmesse about the upcoming Nuremberg Show. What’s new, what to expect, and the general excitement of gathering once again at the world’s largest Toy Fair.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Beacon Media Group and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

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2022 In Review: Our 4th Annual Discussion
December 29, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk with John Baulch from Toy World UK and James Zahn from The Toy Book for our 4th Annual year-end conversation. From inventory levels to new challenges, to the potential for the revitalized Toys "R" Us, to, of course, the issue of Toy Fairs, the panel looks back at 2022 and ahead to 2023 and beyond.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Beacon Media Group and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

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Slaying Social Media: Josh Loerzel & Sky Castle
December 13, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk to Josh Loerzel of Sky Castle Toys about his career and his ongoing success in using social media to create hits. From his early days at Zing where he made a monster hit out of Stikbot, Josh talks about how he did it and the three important elements of building a social media strategy. Moreover, how has social media changed the landscape for the trade? Josh will clue you in.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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100 Years of Fun: Jim & Donna Pressman on Their New Book
December 7, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk with Jim and Donna Pressman about their new book, A Century of American Toys & Games: The Story of Pressman. They talk about the  company's colorful history over the past century. It was a labor of love, and it's an important book for anyone who loves toys...the process all started with an elephant.

After you listen, you'll want to buy the book. It makes a great holiday gift for anyone who loves toys. Click here to buy it on Amazon!
 

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Price Protection in a Competitive Environment: Ron Solomon of MAPPTrap
November 9, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk to Ron Solomon, creator and CEO of MAPPTrap, an online software service that allows manufacturers to monitor compliance with minimum advertised pricing policies across all distribution channels (even ones they may not know about.) They discuss how it works, why it's important, and why the "race to the bottom" on pricing hurts manufacturers and retailers.

It's an important conversation that can help everyone in the merchandising area and an intriguing look at how Solomon and his team have effectively countered price cutting...and where everyone wins.

 

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Isaac Larian: The Interview. Building a Life and a Business with a Passion for Play
October 25, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk to Isaac Larian, founder and CEO of MGA. From his earliest days to having unprecedented success in the industry, Isaac talks about his vision, how he's built the company, worked with his team, and what the toy industry means to him. In this exclusive conversation, Isaac shares what it takes to make it in the toy industry, how it's a non-stop challenge, and why it's actually good to be paranoid. (It's a business strategy that drives non-stop innovation.)

 

 

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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ASTRA: Toy Boats and the State of Specialty
October 14, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk to Sue Warfield, president of ASTRA and board members Tom Rushton and Cassidy Smith about ASTRA's Toy Boat next February. Find out why this actually is a great opportunity to cost-effectively reach the specialty trade. Also, they talk about the state of specialty, particularly coming out of COVID, what specialty means today and the terrific opportunities for both retailers and manufacturers.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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More than a Blip: Building a Business on Classic Play
October 6, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk to Bill Nichols and Peter Cmiel co-presidents of Blip Toys about their careers, their strategies, the benefits and challenges of just being a "Blip" on the radar of the toy industry (despite major successes) and how they manage to keep the company lean, creative, and successful. Plus, they chat about Chris's favorite active play toy of 2022.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Update on Toy Fairs: Kim Carcone of the Toy Association
September 7, 2022

 

Richard and Chris have a lively chat with Kim Carcone, EVP of the Toy Association about the current state of Toy Fair, the upcoming Dallas show, what's ahead for 2023, and new initiatives to make the show more useful and relevant than ever.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Validating STEM & STEAM: A Chat with The Good Play Guide
August 22, 2022

 

Amanda Gummer and Frances Cain from The Good Play Guide talk with Richard and Chris about their scientifically based accreditation program for evaluating toys for their potential to support STEM and STEAM learning. Beyond marketing buzzwords, this insightful conversation talks about the value of play, its role in learning...and why fun is an essential element of any toy that they validate. 

With sound methodology and a dedication to children, they talk about what this can mean to parents, children, and manufacturers, including a new storefront on Amazon.com that will help consumers find toys that are appropriate for their kids. 

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Strategies for Growth in a Dynamic Market: A Conversation with Didier Pietri, CEO of Luki Lab & Strottman
July 11, 2022

 

Richard and Chris have an engaging Q&A with Didier Pietri, CEO of Strottman International and their new toy division Luki Lab.

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Showcase Comes to the U.S.: A Conversation with Samir Kulkarni, CEO
June 28, 2022

 

After a successful 10-store pilot, the Canadian trend retailer Showcase is coming to the U.S., and that is big news for the toy industry. Richard and Chris talk to the retailer's CEO Samir Kulkarni about the store, their growth, their U.S. strategy and the unique and powerful combination of high tech systems and a deep understanding of trends to create a retail destination in malls across the U.S. Twenty-seven stores are planned for 2022 alone, with more to come.

It's a dynamic conversation that you won't want to miss. (35 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Jeffrey Breslow: A Gamemaker's Life
June 14, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk with Toy Industry Hall of Fame designer Jeffrey Breslow about his career, his time with Marvin Glass and Associates, and the inspirations and tragedies that shaped his career. "Brez," as he's known, entered the toy industry when Marvin Glass hired him on the spot. He spent the next 41 years developing games, and ultimately leading the company.

The conversation covers all that and more, as well as advice for young toy designers looking to enter the business. Breslow's book telling the full story A Gamemaker's Life will be out in August, and The Playground Podcast has an exclusive first look. Listen in! (34 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Private Label, New Materials: A Conversation with Chad Gharring of Boley
June 4, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk with Chad Gharring of Boley about the dramatic rise of the company as a private label, brand building company and as an innovator in sustainability--and increasingly hot and important topic in the toy industry. They also talk about the advantages of being a Chinese/American hybrid company. You'll want to know more about this big and competitive company that, till now, has largely flown under the radar. (25 Minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Action Face CEO Kenny Davis on New, Interactive Virtual and Real World Platform
May 26, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk to Kenny Davis, CEO of the start-up Action Face about the new platform that allows users to create avatars, action figures and much more using advanced scanning technology, right on the phone. They discuss the evolution of the concept, Kenny's background, and how managers can maximize the new virtual world of work. (22 Minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Aaron Muderick of the Toy Association on Toy Fair & More
May 16, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk with Aaron Muderick, executive chairman of the Toy Association, about Toy Fair in New York in 2023, Dallas in 2022, and related issues. They also talk about the Association's efforts on lobbying and challenges and opportunities for the industry as it moves into a new era. Muderick's thoughtful and insightful comments make this a must-hear interview for this dynamic industry.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about a recent survey about price increases in the toy industry and what that may mean for the rest of the year ahead. (34 Minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Building a Global Brand: Star Stable Gallops Into the Toy World
May 9, 2022

 

CEO of Star Stable Entertainment Johan Sjöberg calls his game "World of Warcraft...for girls." The hugely successful game is now making its move into toys under a licensing agreement with Just Play. In this episode, Richard and Chris talk with Sjöberg about the development of the brand, how they engage with kids and the expansion onto iOS and Android platforms as well as the strategy that has made the game a hit in more than 180 countries.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard have a serious talk about animated characters...and have a bit of fun as well. (31 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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Toy Industry History: Barry Schwartz on 50 Years of Making Hits
May 2, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk to Barry Schwartz of Schwartz PR about his incredible career. From his start as a kid in vaudeville, Barry moved into PR (another kind of showbiz, he notes) and was the creative and PR force behind many hits of the mid-20th Century. From introducing LEGO and the Othello game to the United States, to launching Hello Kitty in America to the recent TOTY winner Create-A-Castle, Barry shares stories of how this happened and how the world of PR has evolved over nearly half a century. This is must-listen industry history, direct from someone who lived it and created it.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the potential demise of The Star Ferry in Hong Kong. It's a lighthearted, but heartfelt, conversation about a fixture of Hong Kong, which may be going away. (40 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Beacon Media Group.

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What Disney's Current Situation Teaches Managers: Eric Pliner of YSC Consulting
April 10, 2022

 

In this important and insightful episode, Richard and Chris talk with Eric Pliner, CEO of YSC Consulting about what today's managers can learn from the current political, employee and public image crisis at Disney. Pliner's insights on the changing nature of ethics and employment are essential for anyone who wants to function effectively in the contemporary market. Pliner previously appeared on The Playground Podcast to talk about DEI programs. Now, he takes all of that information to the next level to help managers understand what's coming...and be prepared.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard have some fun with a recent article posted on Global Toy News about the Top Retro Toys in the U.S. It's a lighthearted conversation in this serious time, and it reminds us of the joy of play. (35 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Next Gen Genius: Yanofsky & Wiseman of WowWee
March 31, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk to Andrew Yanofsky and Syndey Wiseman of WowWee, both second generation toy people. More than just a legacy, however, these dynamic professionals are at the forefront of product development, research, consumer knowledge and leveraging new media platforms to develop enthusiastic communities of consumers. Their great perspectives and insights and their passion for toys as a new generation of toy industry professionals make this a lively and informative conversation. You won't want to miss it.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the implications for the global toy industry from the ongoing war in Ukraine. Over and above the human tragedy of this war, which of course is the main story, businesses are facing challenges that will last for years. (35 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Jumping into the Toy Biz: An Interview with producer Brian Volk-Weiss
March 21, 2022

 

Producer Brian Volk-Weiss joins Richard and Chris for a second time. This time to talk  about the launch of his new toy company Nacelle Toys. Brian is the producer of the successful Netflix series The Toys that Made Us and A Toy Store Near You, now entering its fourth season. In this lively conversation, Brian talks about the decision to roll out toys based on The Great Garloo, Robo Force and others...and the old schools "let's put on a show" passion that's driven this new venture. From trusting his gut to building a network of distributors, Brian is a classic toy impresario who's just going for it. Listen into this fun and fast-paced chat.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the implication for Russia deciding to suspend IP rights for properties such as Peppa Pig and others and what that means for the global IP and toy markets. (25 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Jay Foreman: The Case for the September Toy Fair
March 7, 2022

 

In this special episode, Richard and Chris largely turn over the mic to Jay Foreman, chairman of the Toy Association Trade Show Committee. He lays out the case for the September Toy Fair in New York in light of the changing dynamics of the industry, the needs of manufacturers, buyers, and more, and the historic shift in the show that this move represents.

Foreman makes compelling cases and digs into the the benefits to the industry from the date and the venue. He adds that the change has been many years in the making as production and purchasing schedules shift along with the role of the show in the industry.

It's must-listen for people in the toy business. (36 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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The Power of Collecting: Christian Braun of hobbyDB 
March 2, 2022

 

Richard and Chris speak with Christian Braun of hobbyDB, the global hobby and collectibles database about collecting, what creates value, and best practices for companies that want to be in the collectible or limited edition business. They talk about what makes this sector different from traditional toy development and marketing, and such issues as "completion" and the reality that sometimes building long-term value means leaving money on the table.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard discuss recent news that the UN may limit petroleum-based plastic production, what that might mean, and a Spielwarenmesse survey of consumers in the EU about what is important to them in toys, particularly as the next generation of toy buyers confront and deal with the climate impact of plastics. (35 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Take 10 | September Toy Fair: What it May Mean
February 24, 2022

 

This conversation about the recently announced move of New York Toy Fair to September 2023 looks at the challenges, opportunities and the industry-wide implications of this move. Richard and Chris talk about what it might mean for companies of all sizes and how the move reflects the dynamic toy business.

(10 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Puzzling Out the Business: An Interview with Thomas Kaeppeler of Ravensburger
February 24, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk with Thomas Kaeppeler, president of Ravensburger North America about the puzzle business and more in this dynamic environment. From puzzler personas to the hit (non-puzzle) toy Gravitrax, Thomas provides insight, perspective and thoughts for the toy industry on the company's success.

In the Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the move of Toy Fair to September in 2023, what that means for the industry, the show, and companies of all sizes. (34 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Toy Fairs, Retail & More: An Interview with Steve Markey of Hog Wild Toys
February 14, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk to Steve Markey, newly named VP Sales and Marketing for Hog Wild Toys about the return of a Toy Fair in London, and what it means for the business, the emergence of alternative channels of retail, and the challenges and opportunities ahead in 2022.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the ongoing issue of the fate of New York Toy Fair. Will it stay in NYC? When will it be? (30 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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The Strong Museum: Game On
January 31, 2022

 

In the second of their conversations recorded last November at The Strong Museum of Play in Rochesters, NY, Richard and Chris talk with games curator Nicolas Ricketts. Listen in as they talk about the histories of some of the games in the collection. From great stories about how the games were acquired to their impact on the culture, this lively conversation is a must-listen for anyone interested in game history.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard discuss the 13 percent increase in retail sales recently reported for 2021 by the NPD Group...and what that really means in the context of the industry and inflation overall. (34 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Making Music: Sarah Baskin of Far Out Toys
January 24, 2022

 

Richard and Chris talk with Sarah Baskin, Vice President of Marketing Communications for Far Out Toys. She talks about the evolution of this "new type of toy company," their major investment in content and music, and has great tips fo companies looking to implement a content strategy in the current marketplace. Her insights and advice are invaluable, and you'll want to listen in.


In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the five-year decline in China's birthrate, the aging of the Chinese population, and what that means for the toy industry...and the world. (34 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Strong Museum: The Doll Collections & The Power of American Girl
January 11, 2022

 

The Playground Podcast begins its fourth season with the first of a series of conversations with curators at The Strong Museum of Play, Richard and Chris talk with Michelle Parnett-Dwyer who oversees the doll collection. From the Edison talking doll to the newly inducted American Girl dolls, they discuss the history, significance and evolution of dolls in the culture and the collection.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard discuss the new CEO at Hasbro, Chris Cocks, and how his arrival from the Pacific Northwest may impact Hasbro's culture and why his experience with Wizards of the Coast may be the ideal springboard for moving Hasbro ahead in a dynamic toy/entertainment environment. (28 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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2021 Year in Review: Second Annual Thought Leader Panel Discussion
December 20, 2021

 

Richard and Chris are joined by John Baulch of Toy World UK and James Zahn of The Toy Book to talk about the major issues of 2021: supply chain, consumer buying, inflation, toy fairs, and much more.

In this lively conversation, four of the toy industry's top thought leaders share their perspectives and insights on one of the most challenging years the toy industry has face and their outlook for what's ahead in 2022. (38 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Dan Yaccarino: Drawing on a Great Career
December 10, 2021

 

Richard and Chris talk with Dan Yaccarino, author, artist and creator of such shows as Oswald the Octopus and the Backyardigans. They talk about Dan's career, the state of kids' content and much more.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the new Toys "R" Us, its potential and what success could mean for the business and invite CEO Yehuda Shmidman to come on the show and talk about his vision for reviving the iconic brand. (37 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Spielwarenmesse Update: A Conversation with Christian Ulrich
November 12, 2021

 

Richard and Chris talk with Christian Ulrich, one of the directors of the Spielwarenmesse, aka The Nuremberg Toy Fair, about the fair, what's ahead, what's new, outlook for attendance and, of course, safety protocols.

In the Endcap, Chris has another One-Minute Toy Story. He tells how the classic game Twister almost didn't happen. (19 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Making Amazon Work for You: A Conversation with Ryan Rollo of Channel Key
November 1, 2021

 

Listen in as Richard and Chris talk with Ryan Rollo, COO of Channel Key as they discuss the evolution of Amazon as a merchandising and advertising program and the ways in which toy companies can maximize their Amazon selling and promotion strategies. Channel Key has helped companies of all sizes grow their businesses exponentially on the platform (and Walmart.com, too), and Rollo shares insights, information, and his views on how online retailing has transformed the toy business.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about California's new law mandating gender neutral toy departments. What might that mean not just for California but for merchandising nationwide? (37 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Take 10: Remembering Brian Goldner
October 18, 2021

 

In this brief, special episode Richard and Chris remember Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner and discuss his impact on the toy industry, past, present and future. (6 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Jennifer Caveza: Otis College Prepares the Next Generation of Toy People
October 7, 2021

 

Richard and Chris talk with industry veteran Jennifer Caveza who has just taken over as chair of the toy design department at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. In this lively and entertaining conversation, Jennifer talks about her career, the school's success rate, the dynamic internship program and much more. This is must-listening for anyone interested in hearing about the most comprehensive undergraduate toy design program in the U.S., and the only one offering a BFA in toy design.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the new deal between Amazon and LEGO, and what it might mean for the future of entertainment properties. (33 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Funko Games & Reuben Klamer: An Interview with Deirdre Cross of Funko Games and Remembering Reuben Klamer
September 22, 2021

 

Richard and Chris talk with Deirdre Cross, VP Funko Games, about the growth of the company, game development, licensing, and much more. In this spirited conversation, Deirdre talks about the hits, the misses and life in a game studio, now a part of Funko.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard remember industry icon Reuben Klamer, all he contributed to the toy industry over the better part of a century, and a great story about his involvement with Star Trek from the earliest days. (33 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Jim Pressman Talks About a Lifetime of Play & Being Named to the Toy Industry Hall of Fame
September 14, 2021

Richard and Chris talk to Jim Pressman about his career spanning multiple decades--and Pressman the family company begun by his father in 1922. This is essential oral history about the toy industry, about Jim and both his parents who were dedicated toy people as well as how the company evolved through its sale to Goliath. You won't want to miss Jim's great storytelling and the tales behind a 20th Century success story.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard keep the history going talking about the U.S. toy industry in the 1920s and how it grew and expanded. (36 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Trends in the Baby Business: An Interview with Rob Gardner of Joovy
September 2, 2021

Richard and Chris talk with Rob Gardner, founder and CEO of Joovy about the growth of his business, trends in the infant category and the changing marketplace as Gen-Z parents emerge as an economic force.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about Just In Time inventory management and how implementation since the 1970s may have played a role in the current supply chain disruptions...and what might be ahead. (31 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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The Power of Collecting: Jeremy Padawer, Part 2
August 11, 2021

In this In the second part of our interview with Jeremey Padawer of Jazwares, Richard and Chris talk about his role and passion as a collector. Understanding collecting as an investment and an asset class, Padawer has become one of the leading collectors of Pokémon in the world. He talks about his analysis of what to collect, how to project long-term value, and how companies can effectively develop collectible segments as a means of generating value and long-term engagement with a brand.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard discuss the changes in the sales function within companies and what it means that sales forces are aging and that fewer people are looking to sales as a career. (27 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Jazwares and The Emergence of Toy Powerhouse: Jeremy Padawer, Part 1
July 27, 2021

Jeremy Padawer, a partner in Jazwares, talks with Richard and Chris about his stellar career that began in a kids' store when he was 16, progressed through Mattel and Jakks Pacific and later in Wicked Cool Toys, which was acquired by Jazwares.

Padawer brings his unique sensibility and great personality to an insightful conversation that covers his career, the current market situation, and the Jazwares strategy for growth as the company aims to be a billion dollar toy powerhouse. From leveraging properties to strategic thinking, you'll want to hear this.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the conversation where Padawer will talk about the collectible business and his position as the world's largest Pokémon collector. (29 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Industry Update: An Interview with Steve Pasierb of the Toy Association
August 23, 2021

Listen to a frank conversation about the industry’s current status with Steve Pasierb, President, and CEO of the Toy Association. Richard and Chris discuss the situation of Toy Fairs in Dallas and New York (2022) and the growing importance of Los Angeles as a permanent and temporary location for the industry. Mr. Pasierb addresses the current shipping crisis and current legal and political issues that are having or could have implications for the industry as a whole. He also discusses the Toy Association’s efforts and its effectiveness with issues that may “fly under the radar” for many in the toy business.

In “The Endcap,” Chris and Richard talk about the Q4 holiday selling season and the challenges manufacturers of all sizes face as we confront another holiday season seriously impacted by the global pandemic. (37 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Social Media for Kids: Zigazoo is The Next Big Thing
July 6, 2021

Listen in as Richard and Chris talk with Zak Ringlestein of Zigazoo about this breakthrough platform that delivers a great social media experience for young kids. Too young for traditional social media? No worries. Zigazoo has kids covered in a safe, interactive environment where kids respond to challenges with videos of their own. Ringlestein has leveraged his experience as a teacher and tech entrepreneur to create a dynamic, engaging and age-appropriate experience where kids "feel big," and participate as creators. You'll want to know about this platform and what it means for tech-savvy kids.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about Chinese retailer Shein (pronounce she-in) as they stake a competitive claim in the U.S. market. (43 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Industry Veteran Andy Weiner on The Toy Foundation's Latest Initiatives and More
July 16, 2021

Richard and Chris talk with Andy Weiner, of Toy'n Around. Weiner is a 46-year veteran of the toy industry currently chairing the The Toy Foundation. They discuss the latest initiatives of the foundation, including diversity and outreach and talk about Andy's incredible career spanning four decades, the changes he's seen...and what he sees ahead.

In the Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about big changes at the Dollar Stores, what they mean for inflation, branding, and merchandising. (29 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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The Essential Element of Emotional Intelligence: Renée Adams on This Emerging Trend
June 23, 2021

Richard and Chris talk with certified Emotional Intelligence (EI) trainer Renée Adams about the importance of EI, how it contributes to child development, and what toy makers should know about building this learning into their toys. Adams talks about her newly launched line Hoppy & Poppie Pinkcheeks and how it helps children develop EI from the youngest ages. It's an important topic, particularly as we come out of the pandemic, and one which Adams says has many benefits for kids both socially and intellectually.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard continue the conversation about supply chain issues, particularly the recent boom in container and shipping costs. What does it mean for 2021 and 2022, and are there longer term implications? (36 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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New Generation, New Markets: The Evolution of Madame Alexander
June 14, 2021

Listen in as Richard and Chris talk to David Morgenstern, VP of Sales for Madame Alexander. Over his 25-year tenure with Madame Alexander, Morgenstern has overseen the transformation of the company from a collectible business to a broad-based play doll company, which Madame herself intended when she started the company in 1923. Morgenstern recounts the history of the company and how the new lines, designs, and distribution channels reflect the needs of the Millennial mom.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about a new Axios study that ranks companies based on their reputations among consumers. Is this a meaningful data point, and what could it indicate about strategies for companies in a dynamic marketplace? (30 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Mia Galison of eeBoo: The Art of Creating Positive Play
June 3, 2021

Richard and Chris talk with Mia Galison, founder, president and creative director of eeBoo. Listen in on a conversation that recaps her inspiring story of how a mom who wanted to be present to her kids built a company that has been a mainstay in the specialty market, her journey, creative process, and more. From thoughts on positive parenting to opening up a who new business in adult puzzles during the pandemic, Mia is a classic entrepreneur, and a dynamic toy industry story.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about companies that are responding to social issues, and in particular products launched by LEGO and Mattel celebrating Pride Month. They discuss what it means, what it reflects in the culture, and implications for future generations of children. (34 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Chris Heatherly on Club Penguin, Roblox, NFTs and How Media is Evolving
May 21, 2021

Listen as Richard and Chris talk to Chris Heatherly, one of the leading technology innovators in the toy business about what's ahead in the space. Heatherly was one of the guiding executives behind Club Penguin after the Disney acquisition, and he has continued innovating in kids' tech  developing and exploiting new platforms. He has powerful insight into what made Club Penguin the hit it was, its social impact, and how Roblox is picking up the engagement model. He also talks about the value and potential of NFTs and how entertainment and licensing will be impacted by all the current changes...and what lies ahead.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard discuss the phenomenon of Dollar Stores and what those mean for toymakers and consumers. (37 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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The Power of PANKs: Melanie Notkin of Savvy Auntie
May 10, 2021

Richard and Chris talk with Melanie Notkin about her mission with Savvy Auntie, and the economic, cultural and emotional power of PANKs (Professional Aunts, No Kids). This powerful demographic is often overlooked by the toy business, and yet it's one that represents outstanding potential for driving toy sales... if they are acknowledged and addressed. Listen in on this lively conversation, and we promise you'll be inspired to find new ways to reach and engage this market segment that spends more than $250 per year per kid in their lives.

In The Endcap Chris and Richard continue the conversation, discussing the implications of new figures showing declining birthrates and fertility rates, what that means for the toy companies and ways to thrive in this dynamic market. (43 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Maximizing YouTube Advertising: Precise.TV
May 10, 2021 | Sponsored Episode

In this special episode, Richard and Chris talk to Christian Dankl and Holly Gibb of Precise.TV about their data-driven approach to YouTube advertising. They discuss how toymakers can maximize the company's targeting, creative and data collection to drive greater awareness and sales. In a competitive market, Christian and Holly discuss how to make budgets go further and why their approach works. As the company moves into the U.S., this is an insightful and informative conversation for anyone looking to make the most of their YouTube presence.(24 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Take 10: Potential Implications for The Toy Biz from Declining Birthrates
May 10, 2021

This short segment first appeared as the Endcap on our conversation with Savvy Auntie, Melanie Notkin.

Chris & Richard talk about new numbers on declining birthrates, implications for the toy industry and some ideas of how toymakers might respond to the changing market. (9 minutes)


The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Fandom, The Big Deal: Julian Montoya of The Noble Collection
April 23, 2021

Join Richard and and Chris as they talk with Julian Noble, senior vice president of The Noble Collection about the impact and opportunities of fandom in the licensing business. From prop replicas to "toylectibles," Noble's trademarked terms, consumers of all ages are interacting in properties in significant ways to express their love for properties and build communities. Hear how The Noble Collection has grown to be a major player in this category.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about emerging product trends for 2021, after having reviewed numerous lines and spoken with industry leaders. (36 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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The Power of Audio: Drew Vernon of Tonies
May 3, 2021

Richard and Chris talk with Drew Vernon of Tonies about the phenomenon of audio and the Tonies audio platform that's quickly becoming an international hit. From developing content, to marketing a high-end, "durable goods" toy, as Richard calls them, to the power of building a community, Drew, whose background includes a stint at LEGO and a passion for developing outstanding play experiences for kids, talks about the role the Tonies product plays in entertainment and education.

In the Endcap, we introduce a new feature: 1-Minute Toy Stories. If you've got a minute, you can get the history of Crayola Crayons. (28 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Looking Back. Looking Ahead. Celebrating Two Years of the Playground Podcast
April 16, 2021

For their 94th episode, Richard and Chris take a quick look back at the podcast and the insights shared by people from all parts of the toy industry. Looking ahead, they draw on an attitudinal survey from Global Toy News to see what may be on the horizon as the industry emerges from the pandemic. (24 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Running the Game: A Conversation with Filip Franke of Ravensburger
April 8, 2021

Richard and Chris catch up with Filip Franke, CEO North America and Global Head of Games for Ravensburger. It's an insightful conversation about games, puzzles, the pandemic, management styles and what's ahead for this rapidly growing company.

In the Endcap Chris and Richard have a lighthearted conversation about a serious business...what's up with these large container ships, such as the one caught in the Suez Canaland what does that mean for the supply chain. (39 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Getting Your Mojo On: A Conversation with Billy Langsworthy, Founder of Mojo Nation
April 1, 2021

Richard and Chris talk with Billy Langsworthy, one of the founders of Mojo Nation about the creation of his site, the inventor communities he serves, creativity, and what he sees as trends in the toy business. It's an engaging talk about what it means to be creative in the highly competitive and uncertain toy industry.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the impact of Tik Tok as a communication and entertainment platform, how it's transforming marketing...and why some of the old rules still apply. (36 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy, Precise.tv and Chizcomm.

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Toikido Set to Launch: A Conversation with Founder Darran Garnham
March 24, 2021

Richard and Chris chat with Darran Garnham, founder of the new company Toikido about what it means to be "a new kind of toy company." They talk about Garnham's long experience in licensing, the current state of the business, and his highly anticipated launch of toys based on the social gaming phenomenon Among Us. Garnham's insights, passion, and experience, as well as his clear-eyed, strategic understanding of the current marketplace creates a lively and important conversation.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about an issue that's very much top-of-mind: sustainability. What does it mean for the toy business today...and moving forward? (43 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Toy Trends in China: A Conversation with John Tong & Jacqueline Vong
March 17, 2021

Join Richard and Chris as they talk with John Tong, managing director of King Bee Toys and Jacqueline Vong, co-founder and president of Playology International. The lively discussion covers the boom in online retail in China, the growth of streaming, and other trends shaping the dynamic toy industry in China currently. Both John and Jacqueline are deeply knowledgeable about what it takes to succeed in the Chinese toy market, and they share their experience and insight...including a revealing story about cultural differences.

In the Endcap, Chris and Richard look back at the year and how the toy industry has responded, changed and not only survived but thrived. (46 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Integrated Retail: Canada's Indigo Excels in Toys
March 8, 2021

Richard and Chris chat with Gail Banack, Chief Kids & Baby Officer at Indigo about the successful chain's integrated, omnichannel strategy that marries online and in-store to create a dramatic and profitable customer experience. Banack talks about her merchandising philosophies, why the company as been so successful and crafting a compelling, consistent brand presence that leads many consumers to call the retailer "their happy place." They explore how to balance specialty and mass-market toys in a dramatic, competitive and profitable offering.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard toss around the idea of "shrinkflation" and what that might mean for the toy industry in the current economic climate.(39 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Trends in Play, Pandemic & Beyond: A Conversation of David Kleeman
March 1, 2021

Join Richard and Chris for an in-depth conversation with David Kleeman of Dubit Limited, a premiere, global market research and development company. Kleeman's broad experience in education and entertainment and his role as SVP Global Trends for Dubit make him uniquely qualified to discuss the state of play during Covid and beyond. The conversation covers the role of connected play, the emotional experience of play, social platforms (such as Roblox) and much more, all with a view to what can inform toy development and marketing in our dynamic world. Kleeman speaks and writes extensively on these topics, and this is your chance to hear his insights firsthand.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the societal and play implications of removing the Mr. and Mrs. from the Potato Head brand. It may seem at first blush like a PR stunt, but it has much broader implications for kids and culture. (41 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Insights for Inventors and E-Commerce Marketers: A Conversation with Zack Pentecost of Zuru
February 22, 2021

Richard and Chris chat with Zack Pentecost, senior e-commerce manager at Zuru about the company's successful track record of building global brands and their impressive growth. Zack also heads up inventor relations for Zuru and talks about the company's approach to the inventor community and what they're looking for as the company continues to expand.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard discuss the phenomenon of "social commerce," what it means and implications for retail going forward. (41 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Listening & Understanding Kids Helps Build Brands: A Conversation with Joel Silverman, Co-Founder of Kids Know Best
February 16, 2021

Richard and Chris talk to Joel Silverman, co-founder of the research company Kids Know Best about his unlikely path to running one of the leading global companies tacking kids in real time. They chat about the process, insights and how the company helps IP owners and toy companies get an edge in our highly competitive market.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard toss around ideas about the potentially under-served convenience store retail channel? Are there untapped retail opportunities in the nearly 160,00 convenience stores in the U.S.? (36 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Technology, Media & Play: A Conversation with Gregg Stein, CEO of Skoog Media
February 8, 2021

Richard and Chris talk with Gregg Stein the CEO of Skoog Media about the company's first kid-facing, creative play platform and the co-development with Sesame Workshop. They talk about the growth of audio in children's media, how the product was developed and strategies for launch in a competitive market.

In the Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about Toys "R" Us withdrawal from the market and the opportunities for dedicated toy retail on a larger scale in the U.S., as well as the challenges of making it work. (24 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Behind the Scenes of a Streaming Series: A Conversation with Brian Volk-Weiss
February 1, 2021

Richard and Chris talk with documentary executive  producer Brian Volk-Weiss (“The Toys that Made Us”) about his new series, “A Toy Store Near You." Mr. Volk-Weiss’ film takes viewers inside some of the most interesting toy collector stores around the world. From an innovative production methodology created in response to the Covid pandemic to the challenges of creating streaming content, Volk-Weiss lifts the curtain on this challenging but rewarding process of telling a meaningful story in the 21st century.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about doing business with Amazon, based on a recent survey conducted by Richard and Global Toy News, and conversations within the industry. (27 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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A Conversation with "The Toyologist, " Peter Jenkinson
January 25, 2021

Richard and Chris chat with Peter Jenkinson of Toyology. In a conversation recorded last December, they talk about the British toy market, Jenkinson's innovative marketing programs and what he sees as the trends shaping 2021 for toys and play.

In the Endcap, recorded January 25, Chris and Richard discuss the NPD report that the toy industry grew 16 percent in 2020, what that means and how this performance may shape the year ahead. (24 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy and Chizcomm.

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Dimian: A Family Company in the European Market
January 18, 2021

Join Richard and Chris as they speak with Michele Roethling, vice president of Dimian about the 60-year old doll and plush company, the European market and current conditions. Michele is "toy industry royalty," born into the business his parents founded. Listen in to a conversation that covers design, production and the challenges of the current marketplace.

In The Endcap, Chris and Richard discuss the impact of returns on the marketplace and retail overall in 2020.(25 minutes)

The Playground Podcast is supported by Global Toy Experts, The Toy Guy