by The Bloom Report | 17 Feb 2022
Biographies and Interviews
What do you do in the industry?
I am the quintessential toy guy. I started as a liaison manufacturing engineer for Kenner Products in the 70s fell in love with industry and have been active in the industry ever since. My last corporate job held was Vice President for Hasbro. I have worked at Kenner, Tonka, Sega and Hasbro. I founded Cultural Toys, a toy company focused on diversity and non-violence and have developed toys and games over the years. I am now developing toys and games that are integrated with blockchain technology and the metaverse.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
Being in the room with Bernie Loomis and George Lucas as one of the original Kenner Star Wars toy engineers. Being an internal industry, advocate for diversity in toys and responsible for the first African American Baby-Alive doll being made. Launching of Cultural Toys and getting the support of the Toy Association, Target, Toys R Us, WalMart and others when everyone said it was impossible.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
Because of a bridge game. I was working in Cincinnati at a machine tool company as a liaison engineer and asked my VP how I could get a job like his. He said it probably was not going to happen in the Machine Tool industry because it was slow, conservative, and declining. I asked him what I should do. He said he did not know. I asked what would he tell his son to do? He smiled and later introduced me to the Steiner’s, the founders of Kenner who he played bridge with. They asked if they could speak with me, and the rest is toy industry history.
What are you working on now?
I have a new property and toy line that we will be launching at the 2023 Toy Fair that marries collectables, esports and the metaverse.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
Worrying is part of being in the toy industry, You have to be trend forward which leads to misses, but as Joe Mendelsohn used to tell us, You are always going to have products that do not work, the key is to get off of them early and focus on the successes and of course new ideas. I am most excited about the integration of blockchain, VR, AI, technologies into physical toys.
What advice would you give inventors?
Go Big! Let your imagination go. The engineers will take care of bring the idea down to what’s doable today.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Take a job doing what you love, what you would like to do the rest of your life.
What does your typical day look like?
Daily briefing from the Economist magazine, review of schedules, followed by important emails, followed by working through my To-do list for the week. Incorporating scheduled meetings in-between.
What’s your workspace setup like?
Traditional with desk large screen and work table off to the side.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Discussing ideas and developing new products/businesses.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
City worker – picking up trash along the highway during the summers.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
Bridging the Digital Divide, making sure disadvantaged at-risk youth have access to technology and career opportunities.
What and/or who inspires you?
Kids with nothing working hard to rise above their circumstances.
How do you recharge or take a break?
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Marbles and baseball cards.
Where were you born?
What was your life like growing up?
Poor on welfare in Millvale Housing projects. Dangerous, exciting, loving family although father was a happy alcoholic.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
See previous question.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I have made many mistakes as a kid and some as an adult. I learned to trust my instincts, follow my gut and remember the lessons and truths my parents and grandparents told me.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?
Old toy catalogs from major toy companies and Hong Kong Trade Association.
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
All the time! My wifes jokes, my siblings.
Are you named after anyone?
My father and grandfather I am the third.
Do you have any kiddos?
Do you have any pets?
Smokey our dog passed.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?
What’s your favorite cereal?
What’s the first thing you usually notice about people?
What is your eye color?
Do you prefer scary movies or happy endings?
Summer of Winter?
Fall and spring.
Hugs or Kisses?
What’s your favorite TV show?
What is your favorite night out?
Dinner and art gallery.
Favorite movie of all time?
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
Do you have any special talents?
Communications, reading people.
The toy and game industry clearly has….
Changed my life.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Who I am now.
Taking my toy and game knowledge and products to the blockchain and metaverse.
Thank you for taking time to answer our questions thoughtfully and with a sense of play!
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