While in San Francisco for the Disney Pixar Cars 3 press event, I had the pleasure of previewing the premiere of the new show The Toy Box, a brand new show premiering on ABC on Friday, April 7th at 8 PM EST.
The Toy Box is the ultimate toy-competition series, providing toy designers with the chance of a lifetime…an opportunity to bring their toy concept to life with Mattel and to the shelves of Toys ”R” Us the day after the series finale.
Hosted by Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”), the toys – and their inventors – are put through a series of trials and tests before facing the ultimate judges – a panel of no-nonsense, toy-loving kids.
In each episode, inventors present their toy concepts to a group of mentors that include Dylan’s Candy Bar owner Dylan Lauren, toy guru Jim Silver and Pixar Creative Director of Consumer Products Jen Tan.
If the toy maker gets past the mentors, they will move on to The Toy Box where a panel of young, no-holds-barred judges that include Sophia Grace Brownlee (“The Ellen Degeneres Show”), Aalyrah Caldwell (“Uncle Buck”), Toby Grey (“The Unexpected John Cena Prank”) and Noah Ritter (“The Ellen Degeneres Show”) decide which toy moves on to the finals and eventually crowned the winner. That winning toy will be sold exclusively at Toys ”R” Us after the series finale.
We watched Episode 101, which airs TONIGHT!!! Friday, April 7th, 8-9 PM EST on ABC, in which 5 toy designers went before the mentors and the judges and hilarity ensued. I wasn’t expecting to like this show as much as I do, seeing as how I am almost 40 and don’t play with toys. But I loved it, the host is funny, the designers are so passionate that you take an interest in them, and the kid judges are just HILARIOUS. I swear, they should all do stand up comedy!!
This week’s toy inventions include: the Arya Ball, a reimagining of the soccer ball with special surprises inside by inventor Babak from Carlsbad, California, the Wacky Worm Racing Game, a racing game where players dressed in a worm costume race to cross the finish line by inventor Cedric from Orlando, Florida, the Niya Doll, a multicultural doll collection who sings and speaks in multiple languages by inventor Darla from Columbia, South Carolina, the Swurfer, a backyard swing inspired by a surfboard by inventor Rob from Charleston, South Carolina, and the Party Cannon, a party game that launches toys, prizes and candy by inventor Rick from Miami Springs, Florida.
Now…I cant tell you who wins because it’s top secret information being as it’s the series premiere, but I am rooting for Rick and his Party Cannon, because DUH. He’s from South Florida too. We Floridians have to stick together!
You can catch the trailer here, and meet the judges too!
Meet Noah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMR7kkpYylE
Meet Aalyrah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laD7gTcU1s0
Meet Sophia Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PO69uMucbM
Meet Toby Grey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BYXO19vP4Q
We had the opportunity to meet with Jen Tan from The Toy Box and she was such a delight, it made me become even more excited for the show to premiere!
One it was established that the mentors and kid judges were the same on each episode, we delved into why it was such a great dynamic having the two rounds for toy designers to go through.
JEN TAN: Yeah, yeah. I think you have a great combination, all the different components. I really appreciated the two phases, where it’s first the adult. You know what I’m saying. And it’s kinda like the parents’ point of view of what kids could be or should be playing with. And then you’ve got the real kids level perspective.
A few other points to note is that each winner of an episode, that toy will be available online THAT NIGHT and in Toys R Us stores the next day!
There will be a total of seven finalists, and at the end of the eighth episode, the series finale, the kids will chose one overall winner…and while the judges don’t know who that is yet, the kid judges do!
We also asked Jen, what do you look at in the toy? Everything is about the story, right? And I guess the toys need to relate to a child, right? But what exactly additional element that you actually evaluate when you take a look at the toy?
JEN TAN: Sure. There’s a lot of different things, in a really good toy. And it’s hard ’cause as an adult, sometimes you forget what it’s like being a kid. And how to play – which is why I love this show. But I always look for something that is not a one trick pony. So you can play with it multiple times and there’s like various ways to play with it. You know, I have a 2-year-old now and it’s really important like, whatever I give her, she can play with it for a good amount of time.
You know, and something that I think allows a child to be creative. Or allows them to have a lot of fun. I mean, I think there’s a lot of different aspects of any kinda toy. But anything that sparks some creativity. And imagination, that’s what I personally look for. And I feel if I’m in a lot of classic, simpler toys. And there’s a lot of tech stuff now. And it’s fun too. But sometimes it can get a little bit, in my opinion, repetitive. But that’s why I love this show, because a lot of these toy makers, their inventions are kind of – they’re not necessarily tech related. You know, they’re kinda just fun classic toys.
Now, Jen Tan works at Pixar as well, so we asked: Did you have a background in toys before you came to Pixar?
JEN TAN: Yes. I went to school for toy design, actually. I went to FIT, Fashion Institute of Technology. They have a two year toy design program. And it’s very specific. I think there’s only two or three new programs in the country. And so I started off as a toy designer. And I got a job at Disney Consumer Products, out of school. And then I worked at Spin Master for a little bit, and worked on some actual toy designs and I came here to work on more toys.
We also asked: So we saw that you gave them criticism at the beginning, on like the best [INAUDIBLE], baseball, track, [SOUNDS LIKE: heavier]. Are we gonna see changes made to those products before the final episode?
JEN TAN: No, I don’t think so. That was part of, yeah, it was part of the questions we had as mentors, was, are we changing this for what it is for right now as it is? Or the potential? And it was kind of what it is right now. But it was hard because as a really good idea, you’re like, there’s so much potential, it just needs…tweak it a little bit, and get there. But in this show you don’t see it kind of get improved upon or changed. You just kind of pick them as they are. And then I’m sure whoever won, that toy would have to have gone through the whole process. Actually be manufacturable.
ABC’s The Toy Box is so funny and really cool too, make sure to tune in tonight, April 7th at 8PM EST!
You can get social with ABC’s The Toy Box too!