The Playground Podcast

The Playground Podcast

By Chris Byrne & Richard Gottlieb
Join Chris Byrne, The Toy Guy® and Richard Gottlieb, president Global Toy Experts on their new podcast
Two industry experts will tackle the topics of the toys, culture, toy history and talk with some of the leading people in the business of toys and children’s entertainment. Designed for anyone interested in toys, play and great stories, each weekly episode will feature engaging, entertaining conversation, useful information, insights, tales of the toys that we’ll never forget and so much more.
As they say, if it concerns toys and play, we’ll be kicking it around in The Playground.
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo
Breaker Logo
Google Podcasts Logo
Overcast Logo
Pocket Casts Logo
RadioPublic Logo
Spotify Logo
Stitcher Logo
Currently playing episode

Inside the Strong Museum of Play, A Conversation with Head Curator Chris Bensch

The Playground Podcast

Go to next audioGo to next audio
Go to prev audioGo to prev audio
1x
Mattel During COVID-19: A Conversation with Steve Totzke, Mattel CCO
(26 minutes) 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. This episode is brought to you by our lead sponsor KidStuff Public Relations.
26:00
May 21, 2020
Music, Play and More--Josh Shriber of Jammin With You
(18 minutes, 30 seconds) 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.
18:30
May 15, 2020
Robots, Electronics and Toys--A Conversation with Davin Sufer of WowWee Toys
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. 
22:21
May 7, 2020
University Games: Bob Moog on the Company's History and the Future of Games, Retail and Engagement
(23 minutes) 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.
23:28
April 28, 2020
Inside the Strong Museum of Play, A Conversation with Head Curator Chris Bensch
Length: 32 minutes 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. 
32:38
April 21, 2020
Inside The Learning Journey : From World Book to World Class (24 minutes)
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. 
24:13
April 13, 2020
Patents, Trademarks & Protecting Your IP, Part 2 (22 minutes)
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 jafarco@narris-law.com or 917.369.8865
21:38
April 8, 2020
Patents, Trademarks & Protecting Your IP, Part 1 (33 minutes)
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.  You can reach Joseph at jfarco@norris-law.com or at 917.369.8865.
33:23
April 8, 2020
Coronavirus Toy Industry Update with Steve Pasierb, CEO of The Toy Association (20 minutes)
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)
20:34
April 1, 2020
Current Toy Issues: Coronavirus, Plastics and Predictions
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. 
31:31
March 30, 2020
Arnie Rubin: A Look Back, A Look at Current Issues & His Secret of Long-Term Success
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. 
33:55
March 21, 2020
Transmedia Storytelling: What You Need to Know for IP & Licensing
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. 
30:11
March 3, 2020
Toy Fair New York 2020: Past, Present and Predictions
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!
29:19
February 20, 2020
A Groundbreaking New Platform for Inventory Management: Alloy.ai's Matt Hansen
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.
20:42
February 18, 2020
Nuremberg 2020: Wrap-Up Trends and Conversations with Hog Wild and Lottie Dolls at Spielwarenmesse
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.
21:41
February 12, 2020
Nuremberg 2020 Day 3: Overall Trends, German Market Insights And How Exhibitors Can Maximize the Show
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. 
27:25
February 2, 2020
Nuremberg 2020 Day 2: The Value of Toy Fairs, One Company's Sustainable Structure, and Timeless Dolls
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.
21:59
January 31, 2020
Nuremberg 2020: An Interview with Mark Foster of Playmobil, Strategy, Expansion & More
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.
21:09
January 30, 2020
Toy Fair New York: What to Expect, What's New...And What's Ahead
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. 
31:43
January 23, 2020
The Decade in Review-Part 2: The Trends
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.
27:59
January 13, 2020
The Decade in Review-Part 1: The Toys
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. 
22:45
January 6, 2020
Year-End Conversation with Steve Pasierb Part Two
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. 
20:12
December 27, 2019
Year-End Conversation with Steve Pasierb-Part One
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. 
21:00
December 27, 2019
FAO's David Nigli Talks about The Iconic Store and Brand--The Original Experiential Marketer
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. 
30:01
December 17, 2019
A Conversation with Keith Meggs of Far Out Toys
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.
38:04
November 25, 2019
Barbie, YouTube, Dallas and More: Current Toy Industry Issues
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. 
36:20
October 30, 2019
The Inside Story: Content, Entertainment, Kids & More. A Conversation With the Head Writer of Paw Patrol--Part 2
Chris and Ursula Ziegler, head writer of Paw Patrol, continue their conversation about bringing the world of Adventure Bay to to life, what makes a powerful story, the need for bad guys and how children relate to entertainment and, hopefully, take it off the screen in the form of toys. Chris is then joined by writer Andy Guerdat, who writes for Paw Patrol as well as Fancy Nancy and other shows, to talk about reaching kids through entertainment.  If you're considering creating content for your products, you'll want to hear what these two, award-winning children's entertainment veterans have to say. 
17:39
October 15, 2019
The Inside Story: Content, Entertainment, Kids & More. A Conversation With the Head Writer of Paw Patrol--Part 1
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. 
26:45
October 15, 2019
Staying Safe, Avoiding Counterfeits and More for Q4: A Conversation with the Toy Association
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. 
25:33
October 2, 2019
A Conversation with Charles Albert, CEO Creativity, Inc.
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. 
23:55
September 24, 2019
Tariffs, China & The Dynamics of an Uncertain Market: A Conversation with Jay Foreman CEO of Basic Fun
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. 
32:51
September 12, 2019
Industry Check-In: Tariffs, Hong Kong, Entertainment & More
Richard and Chris discuss the current, dynamic state of tariffs, implications of the situation in Hong Kong and entertainment. Is Hasbro's purchase of Entertainment One, besides being a strong, strategic move for Hasbro, a game changer for the the industry? Listen in as they discuss these issues. 
17:36
September 6, 2019
Innovation, Creativity and Transforming Businesses with Jamie Gallagher
Chris and Richard talk with Jamie Gallagher, CEO of Faber-Castell about the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment and how the Four C's (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity) can provide a new path forward for toy companies, and many others, in the current economy. Jamie, Richard and Chris discuss the transformative power of creativity at all levels of business. This is the first in our series on innovation. Join us as we discuss creative learning, what quality means and much more. This one's a little longer than our usual episodes, but we hope it will get you thinking about what creativity means and its practical application in any business. 
41:33
August 20, 2019
Live From Sweet Suite, Part 2: More Conversations from the Floor
Richard and Chris talk to Lisa Orman, founder of KidStuff Public Relations about new products and trends in marketing and PR. Then they chat with Jerome Dureau of Namco Bandai about a breakthrough, new learning and creativity software package called Tori that adds collaboration and family engagement to dynamic play. 
14:57
August 5, 2019
Live From Sweet Suite: Conversations with Industry Leaders
Listen in as Chris and Richard go live to the Sweet Suite event and talk to James Zahn, The Rock Father; Ashley Maddy of Basic Fun and Women in Toys; Lisa Wuuenneman from Play Monster, Ryan Birkhardt from Pacific Cycle and Erika Merklinger from Crayola. Find out what's new and hot, and how these executives are responding to trends and the changing toy industry. 
30:42
July 31, 2019
The Changing Entertainment Landscape & What It Means for the Toy Biz
Join us for a conversation about the changing world of movies and children's entertainment and what it might mean for the toy industry. How has streaming changed the game? And what about kids as their own programmers? What new challenges and opportunities does that present to toy manufacturers and everyone in the business. 
24:05
July 18, 2019
Toys "R" Us and the Future of Toy Retailing
Richard and Chris discuss the current state of toy retailing. Is there a need for a national chain? How has the current market changed for manufacturers, consumers, and kids? And what about the planned relaunch of the Toys "R" Us brand? Is it viable? How can it compete in this dynamic market. The hosts explore these ideas and more. 
26:04
July 8, 2019
Living in "What Is" vs. "What If": A Chat with Lenore Skenazy of Let Grow
Chris talks with Lenore Skenazy, founder of the Free Range Kids movement, author and blogger at Let Grow. It's about giving kids freedom and not worrying and how kids are, and can be, self-reliant and fearless from an early age.
19:54
June 26, 2019
Britain, Brexit & Baulch: A Conversation with John Baulch, Founder and Managing Editor of Toy World
Richard and Chris talk with John Baulch of Toy World about the state of the UK toy market, implications of Bexit, retailing in the UK, the sate of innovation in the toy business and what may be ahead in the dynamic toy market. 
30:07
June 20, 2019
A Conversation with The Hong Kong Trade Development council
Richard and Chris talk tariffs with Ralph Chow, Regional Director, Americas, Hong Kong Trade Development Council. They talk tariffs, the changing face of the toy supply chains and how Hong Kong is continuing its leadership position in the global toy industry. Plus, a special event coming in September, 2019 seeking to foster greater partnerships between U.S. and Hong Kong companies. Join us!
25:31
June 11, 2019
Licensing in 2019: A Conversation with Maura Regan, President Licensing International Part 2
Richard and Chris continue the conversation with Maura Regan, president of Licensing International, talking about the state of the business, the power of character and more on the power of licensing as a profitable business strategy in 2019. Plus, how companies can work with the newly re-branded Licensing International to make the most of their licensing efforts. 
24:57
June 3, 2019
Licensing in 2019: A Conversation with Maura Regan, President Licensing International Part 1
Chris and Richard talk with Maura Regan, president of the newly re-branding Licensing International. Listen as they discuss the state of the licensing business in 2019 and insights into the power of licensing to build and expand brands.  
24:32
June 3, 2019
Tariffs: Implications & Predictions. A Conversation with the Toy Association
With the release of List 4, tariffs of up to  25 percent appear increasingly likely on finished goods, as soon as July. Richard and Chris talk to Ed Desmond and Rebecca Mond about the tariff issue and its implications for the toy industry. We talk about what the Toy Association is doing, the current climate in Washington, and how members of the industry can get involved. 
32:17
May 22, 2019
A Conversation with Tech Expert Robin Raskin - Part 2
Richard and Chris continue their conversation with Robin Raskin from Living in Digital Times. In this episode, they talk about the demise of Anki and its implications for toys and play, STEM in tech, changes in the family dynamics around tech and some best parenting practices around tech and kids. 
24:43
May 15, 2019
A Conversation with Tech Expert Robin Raskin - Part 1
Richard and Chris sit down with family technology expert Robin Raskin, founder and president of Living in Digital Times. They talk about current technology, CES, and the role of tech in family entertainment and, of course, toys. 
21:26
May 15, 2019
Stem Toys Substantive Learning...Or Marketing Tool?
Richard Gottlieb and Chris Byrne talk about the hot issue of STEM and STEAM in toys and play and their role in development. From the foundational to the curricular, they talk about how all play for kids is learning based and what makes a good STEM/STEAM toys.
21:24
May 8, 2019
Talking About the China Toy Market (and more) From the Guangzhou Toy & Edu Fair
Richard and Chris talk about developments in the domestic Chinese toy market, implications for the broader international toy business, and, of course, some fun stuff. Recorded on the floor of the show in Guangzhou, China. 
20:54
May 1, 2019
Toy Fair & 2019 Trends, Continued
Richard and Chris continue the conversation about Toy Fair and product trends, with a (very) brief conversation about the evolution of the New York Toy Fair. 
20:21
April 26, 2019
2019 Trends & Toy Fair Wrap-Up
Richard and Chris talk about news coming out of the Toy Fairs as the toy year heats up. Plus, a conversation about some of the trends that will be shaping the business in 2019. 
31:30
April 22, 2019
Introduction to The Playground! Come play with us!
Richard Gottlieb and Chris Byrne introduce The Playground Podcast, and you're invited to join us!
07:42
April 22, 2019