Diversity & Inclusion: Understanding The Need and Implementing Programs. A Conversation with Eric Pliner, CEO of YSC.
July 2, 2020
Chris & Richard have an important conversation with Eric Pliner, CEO of YSC, an international leadership consulting firm. In the conversation, Eric discusses what constitutes effective inclusion, how to integrate diversity in the fabric and values of a company, and the ways in which these programs can significantly enhance a company's performance and profitability.
Eric goes beyond the so called "performative" actions many companies are engaging in today and shows how effective, sensitive and skillful authenticity are both the "right thing to do" and competitive advantages in contemporary business.
You will not want to miss this rich, thoughtful and wide-ranging conversation.
In The Endcap, Richard and Chris discuss the changes in the movie business, what it means for licensing and companies like Disney.
Catching Up with WIT (WOMEN IN TOYS): A Conversation with Janice Ross & Mary Kay Russell
June 26, 2020
We sit down with Janice Ross, president of Women in Toys (WIT) and executive director Mary Kay Russell for an insightful conversation about that organization, how it is actively developing and supporting women in the toy industry, and a variety of programs that are having worldwide importance in the age of Coronavirus.
Janice and Mary Kay also talk with Chris and Richard about issues of race, diversity, and how the industry can transform to address a changing world. It's an exciting, frank, and heartfelt conversation you won't want to miss.
In The Endcap, Richard and Chris discuss the trend of resale and rental in the luxury good business and whether it may have relevance to the dynamic toy biz.
The Playground Podcast is sponsored in part by KidStuff Public Relations.
Bryan Stockton, Former CEO of Mattel, on The Past, Present and Future of Toys
June 19, 2020
Richard and Chris have a lively conversation with Bryan Stockton. The former CEO of Mattel has remained engaged with an industry he loves. Stockton shares his insights on current business topics, what's working and where he sees the business is going. The hosts also catch up with Bryan's current life as a professional photographer and musician.
You won't want to miss Bryan's insights based on a long career in senior management at Kraft and other companies that have made him a particularly thoughtful and insightful executive who understands both the challenges of management and the creative mandate to delight children.
In The Endcap, the hosts talk about the future of trade shows, and what may be ahead. (32 minutes)
Current Issues in the Dynamic Toy Industry; A Conversation with James Zahn
June 12, 2020
Richard and Chris talk to James Zahn, The Rock Father about issues in the toy industry, including Q4 outlooks, how to look at various statistics and what may be ahead. In the second part of the conversation, James, Richard and Chris look into the recent confusion about LEGO's actions in suspending promotion for toys reflecting law enforcement heroes to respect the current political climate. The three talk about race and diversity in the toy industry and thoughts on how the industry can do better. (44 minutes)
The Playground Podcast is sponsored in part by Kidstuff Public Relations.
A Conversation with Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun!
June 4, 2020
Coronavirus, Bankruptcies and Challenges in the Toy Industry 2020
Chris and Richard welcome back Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun! for a frank and insightful conversation about the state of the toy industry, including the impact of Coronavirus on all aspects of sales, the supply chain and retail. Plus, a look ahead at some of the issues that will impact Q4. This is the first of a two-part conversation. You'll want to hear what Jay has to say, as one of the most informed and thoughtful senior executives in the toy industry.
Click here to listen to Part 1 of this episode
Toy Fair, Licensing and What's Going on with Hong Kong (Part 2)
In the second part of their conversation with Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun!, Chris and Richard continue the frank conversation about the state of the toy industry, including a lengthy conversation about the viability of toy fairs. Jay is also the Chairman of the Toy Association's Trade Show committee, and he has some valuable information about planning for upcoming events. Then, the conversation turns to the impact of streaming on licensing and consumption patterns and concludes with a clear-eyed assessment of the current situation in Hong Kong as it relates to the toy industry.
In The Endcap, Richard and Chris talk about the history of Toy Fair, why it was cancelled during World War II, but not during the pandemic of 1918.
Click here to listen to Part 2 of this episode
The Playground Podcast is sponsored in part by KidStuff Public Relations.
The Story of Pictionary: A Conversation with Game Inventor Rob Angel
May 28, 2020
Chris and Richard talk with game inventor Rob Angel about Pictionary, how the phenomenon happened, and the evolution of games. thirty-five years after the launch of the game in a Seattle restaurant, Rob has published a new book, Game Changer that provides the amazing backstory of how this now-iconic game got its start. In a lively conversation, Rob tells many of the stories that should inform and inspire game lovers and would-be game inventors of all types. Order the book from Amazon.
Chris and Richard are also professionally connected to the game. During the period when the game was taking off, Richard was working at Western Publishing, and Chris led the team at Pezzano+Company that did the marketing with game industry marketing wizard Linda Pezzano.
In The Endcap, Richard and Chris discuss the current state of the games business and what may be ahead in this dynamic market segment, one that's feeling some pressure right now.
Lead sponsor for The Playground Podcast is Kidstuff Public Relations.
Mattel During COVID-19: A Conversation with Steve Totzke, Mattel CCO
May 21, 2020
In this episode, Richard and Chris talk to Steve Totzke, Chief Commercial Officer of Mattel. In this lively conversation, the three discuss Mattel's response to the pandemic, changes in sales processes, the future of manufacturing in Asia, how technology is amplifying the sales process, and much more. Totzke, a Mattel and toy industry veteran, draws on his global experience, and his love of play in talking about these issues.
In The Endcap, Chris and Richard talk about the economic impact of COVID-19 on the culture, the toy industry and thoughts about life returning to "normal," whatever that may be. (26 minutes)
This episode is brought to you by our lead sponsor KidStuff Public Relations.
Music, Play and More: A Conversation with Josh Shriber of Jammin With You
May 15, 2020
Chris and Richard chat with Josh Shriber, musician and creator of Jammin With You, a music school in Boston and New York. Listen in as they talk about the challenges of taking music instruction online during COVID-19, the value of music education as play and much more.
You can find out all about Josh and his innovative, interactive and totally fun approach to music education at the Jammin With You site.
Plus, Richard and Chris introduce a new feature for The Playground Podcast. It's a new feature called The Endcap where the hosts talk about current issues in the toy industry. In this episode, they talk about a new survey from Global Toy Experts about how the industry is responding to the Coronavirus crisis.
The Playground Podcast is also very proud to welcome our lead sponsor: Kidstuff Public Relations. (19 minutes)
Robots, Electronics and Toys: A Conversation with Davin Sufer of WowWee Toys
May 7, 2020
Richard and Chris talk to Davin Sufer, chief technology officer at WowWee. They talk robotics, designing toys and how even as technologies advance, the complexities and costs of toy manufacturing create new challenges. You'll also hear about the "moon shot" that WowWee created in the robotics category. They didn't hit the moon, but in the process developed technologies that have helped propel hits like Mip Robots and Fingerlings. It's a great story of market-responsiveness, creativity, fun and innovation at its best. (23 minutes)
Bob Moog on the Company's History and the Future of Games, Retail and Engagement
April 28, 2020
Richard and Chris chat remotely with Bob Moog co-founder and CEO of University Games. From the 35-year-history of the company to its role at the forefront of consumer engagement, the conversation highlights the enduring power of play and the new ways that consumers, especially Millennials and Z-ennials are shopping and engaging with media.
Moog and his company have been at the forefront of changing retailing, pioneering online shopping, and with the launch of UGN (University Games Network), the company is talking directly to a new generation of consumers. Hear how University Games has done it...and their vision for the future in a post-Coronavirus world. (23 minutes)
Inside the Strong Museum of Play: A Conversation with Head Curator Chris Bensch
April 21, 2020
Chris and Richard talk with Chris Bensch, head curator, about the amazing Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. From its history to some of its most famous acquisitions, to the experience of visiting the museum, join us on a a wonderful tale of history and a virtual tour. Plus, find out what highly unusual toy is always the last item on a private tour.
After listening, you'll want to book a trip to Rochester...at least once we can all travel again. (32 minutes)
Inside The Learning Journey: From World Book to World Class
April 13, 2020
Richard and Chris talk to JB and Debbie Frere of The Learning Journey. Starting as a multi-level marketing company owned by World Book, this husband-and-wife team turned the company into an international player in educational toys. Hear how they did it, where the category is now, and how they're coming through the current challenges with Coronavirus. (25 minutes)
Patents, Trademarks & Protecting Your IP: A 2-part conversation with IP Attorney, Joseph Farco
April 6, 2020
Chris and Richard talk with Joseph Farco, patent and IP attorney with Norris-McLaughlin. Join us for a conversation on the importance of protecting IP and an in-depth understanding of how different patents can protect you, as well as copyrights and trademarks. Joseph recently visited Toy Fair in New York and became concerned that toymakers and IP owners are not sufficiently protecting their works. Here's what you need to know.
Richard and Chris continue their conversation with Joseph Farco about the tools for protecting your IP through patent, trademarks and copyrights. They discuss the importance of international protection, necessary research, and options for the inventor community seeking to protect its work prior to pitching to toy companies.
Together, these two parts provide an essential primer for anyone in the toy industry concerned about protecting ideas.
You can reach Joseph directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 917.369.8865
Coronavirus Toy Industry Update with Steve Pasierb, CEO of the Toy Association
April 1, 2020
Richard and Chris talk with Steve Pasierb about the current impact of the Coronavirus on the toy industry. The conversation includes information on how the Association is supporting its members, news, perspective, and updates and resources for companies in the business as we all try to negotiate the situation. As Pasierb says, "hope is not a strategy," but there are reasons to be hopeful as the business makes its way carefully through the crisis. (20 minutes, 34 seconds)
Current Toy Issues: Coronavirus, Plastics and Predictions
March 30, 2020
Richard and Chris talk about current topics in the toy industry, including: The impacts of the Coronavirus on the industry, changing retail, sustainability, and the expansion of LEGO in China. What's happening now...and some predictions for what may be down the road.
Arnie Rubin: A Look Back, A look at Current Issues & His Secret of Long-Term Success
March 20, 2020
Chris and Richard talk with Arnie Rubin. Rubin was a co-founder of Imperial Toy Company, and later went on to found Funrise. He's a 2012 inductee into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, and one of the most loved and respected industry leaders of the latter part of the 20th Century.
In this conversation, he shares some of his stories about coming up in the toy business, and the creative and management practices that have helped build is 50-years-plus success.
Arnie, Chris and Richard also have a candid conversation about one of the major product issues facing the industry in 2020, the challenge of private label.
Listen in as one of the icons of the industry (We'll say it because Arnie won't.) shares his experience and insights.
Transmedia Storytelling: What you need to know for IP & Licensing
March 3, 2020
Richard and Chris sit down with Jeff Gomez, CEO of Starlight Runner, and Danny Simon, founder of the Licensing Group, Ltd. Listen in to an insightful conversation about "transmedia storytelling" (utilizing multiple media platforms to develop characters, properties, and narratives and compellingly engage audiences) and how Gomez and Simon are leveraging their expertise in the relaunch of Ultraman, a 50-year-old property generating $50 million annually in Japan and poised for a U.S. re-entry.
Find out what makes a viable licensing platform and a great story in this hotly contested and very crowded content arena. Get inside views and tips from two succesful industry veterans. This is a must-hear episode for anyone working with content and licensing.
Toy Fair New York 2020: Past, Present and Predictions
February 20, 2020
Richard and Chris share stories about past Toy Fairs, trends that will be affecting the business in the year ahead, and a look at the TOTY awards and much more. Start your Toy Fair adventure here!
A Groundbreaking New Platform for Inventory Management: Alloy.ai's Matt Hansen
February 18, 2020
Richard and Chris talk with Matt Hansen, client engagement manager for the start-up Alloy.ai. This data-driven platform helps toy companies manage inventory, track sales and forecast demand and supply down to the individual store level. Aggregating all data and putting it in a user-friendly dashboard, Alloy's cloud-based solution is a dynamic resource for everyone in the supply chain. Hear how and why it works and how businesses in our data-driven market can use this productively.
LIVE from Nuremberg 2020 - Wrap up
Wrap-Up Trends and Conversations with Hog Wild
and Lottie Dolls
February 12, 2020
Chris provides some perspective on the emerging trends at Spielwarenmesse. Plus conversations with Ian Harkin of Lottie Dolls and Josh Loerzel of Hog Wild. They talk about the unique benefits of the Spielwarenmesse and what's ahead for their companies in 2020.
LIVE from Nuremberg 2020 - Day 3
Overall Trends, German Market Insights And
How Exhibitors Can Maximize the Show
February 2, 2020
Richard and Chris discuss the trends emerging at the Spielwarenmesse. A chat with Jerry Kallman provides insight for would-be exhibitors, Lisa Hilbert discusses trends in the German and Austrian markets, and Chris sits down with Jorg Meister, trade editor and CEO of Little Big Things to talk more in depth about the German market and trends.
LIVE from Nuremberg 2020 - Day 2
The Value of Toy Fairs, One Company's Sustainable Structure, and Timeless Dolls
January 31, 2020
Chris and Richard talk the present and long-term value of international toy fairs with Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse, sustainability with Alain Derauw of Plan Toy and the challenges and opportunities of launching a high end doll line with Frances Cain, plus more on the world's largest toy fair.
LIVE from Nuremberg 2020 - Day 1
An Interview with Mark Foster of Playmobil, Strategy, Expansion & More
January 30, 2020
Live from the Playmobil booth at the Nuremberg 2020 Toy Fair, Richard and Chris sit down with Mark Foster, general manager of the U.S. and U.K. for Playmobil. Mark talks about current strategies, the company's successful expansion into licensing, entertainment and new launches for 2020. It's an engaging conversation about how a nearly 46-year-old brand holds onto its classic roots and expands to meet the demands, consumption and communication patterns of the audience in 2020.
Toy Fair New York: What to Expect, What's New... and What's Ahead
January 24, 2020
Richard and Chris sit down with Marian Bossard, EVP Global Market Events for the Toy Association to talk all things Toy Fair. From innovative educational programs, assistance for first-time attendees and the evolution and history of the show in response to a dynamic marketplace, this lively discussion gives you special insight into the opportunities and importance of this show on the eve of its 117th edition.
The Decade in Review
January 6, 2020
Richard and Chris talk about the toys that shaped the decade from Sing-A-Ma-Jigs, to Monster High, to the revolution in play ignited by the iPad, this freewheeling conversation covers some of the hits, and misses, of the past 10 years.
Richard and Chris finish the first season of The Playground Podcast with a look at the trends that shaped the decade and their implications for the industry as we move into the 20's. From the changes in demography to trends in toys, to ecological developments. Listen in as they approach these issues and more from a variety of perspectives.
Year-End Conversation with Steve Pasierb -
CEO of the Toy Association
December 27, 2019
In the first of a two-part conversation, Chris and Richard sit down with President and CEO of the Toy Association, Steve Pasierb. Listen in as they discuss tariffs, counterfeits and the ongoing work of the association to work with Congress and promote the toy industry.
In the second part of their conversation with Toy Association President and CEO Steve Pasierb, Chris, Richard, and Steve discuss the ongoing importance of a Los Angeles presence for toy companies, the need for, and benefits of, the Dallas Show, the evolution of New York Toy Fair, and the renewed emphasis on industry education. Plus, a look forward to the 2022 expansion of the Javits Center in New York, and much more.
FAO's David Nigril Talks about The Iconic Store and Brand
December 17, 2019
Richard and Chris talk with David Nigli about the return of FAO Schwarz and its role as an iconic American brand. From its founding in 1862 to today, FAO has a special place in the hearts of toy lovers worldwide. What makes that success? And while "experiential retail" may be the new buzzword, it's been the essence of FAO for 157 years. Listen in as Chris, Richard and David talk about this beloved toy institution.
A Conversation with Keith Meggs of Far Out Toys
November 24, 2019
Richard and Chris talk with Keith Meggs of Far Out Toys about building a company from the ground up, the importance of a solid business model, the process of innovation in the toy business and what it means to be a toy company created in the post-TRU toy business..
Barbie, YouTube, Dallas and More: Current Toy Industry Issues
October 30, 2019
Listen as Richard and Chris engage in a wide-ranging conversation talking about current issues in the toy industry. They'll discuss the state of Barbie and what's behind her resurgence, marketing, what the changes at YouTube might mean for toy companies, and the changes in the selling process as Los Angeles emerges as a destination for showrooms and buyers.
The Inside Story: Content, Entertainment, Kids & More. A Conversation With the Head Writer of Paw Patrol
October 15, 2019
Chris sits down with Ursula Ziegler, head writer of the smash hit Paw Patrol. Recorded in June, this episode talks about kids' entertainment, creating powerful content, the role of toys in entertainment and much more. Listen in and hear about what makes content that kids return to...and that drives toy sales.
As Paw Patrol's seventh season is in development, hear about what makes this a success as well as important things to consider for anyone who wants to create successful kid-directed content.
Staying Safe, Avoiding Counterfeits and More for Q4:
A Conversation with the Toy Association
October 2, 2019
Richard and Chris chat with Adrienne Aappell and Rebecca Mond of the Toy Association. They talk about battling aggressive NGO's and their "dangerous toy" lists, the consumer safety site Play Safe (www.playsafe.org), a new white paper on avoiding online knock-offs The Real Threat of Fake Toys, and a bit of fun coming up in the holiday season.
A Conversation with Charles Albert, CEO Creativity, Inc.
September 24, 2019
Join Richard and Chris as they talk with Charles Albert of Creativity, Inc. In an expansive discussion, Charlie shares his thoughts on dealing with the dynamic toy industry particularly with regard to the role of his company as a bridge between the digital and the analog worlds of toys. He shares insights on innovation and success stories about adding sounds and technology including what's worked in the past and how to be prepared for the future.
Tariffs, China & The Dynamics of an Uncertain Market: A Conversation with Jay Foreman CEO of Basic Fun
September 12, 2019
Chris and Richard sit down with Jay Foreman, industry veteran and CEO of Basic Fun. With more than 30 years of working with China, Jay has a unique perspective on the current trade situation. Listen as he shares his unfiltered, unabashed opinions and insights into the reality of what's going on and its implications for the toy business and the economy.
Jay's bold point of view needs to be heard by everyone not just in the toy industry but who is doing business in China. Jay shares his clear-eyed assessment and straightforward approach to the realities of an industry facing uncertainty and turmoil.