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The Playground Podcast

88 EpisodesProduced by Chris Byrne & Richard GottliebWebsite

Join Chris Byrne, The Toy Guy® and Richard Gottlieb, president Global Toy Experts on their new podcastTwo 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 inter… read more

88 Episodes | 2019 - 2021

Just Play: Co-Presidents Charlie Emby and Geoffrey Greenberg Talk Trends & 10 Years in Business

January 11th, 2021


Richard and Chris talk with Just Play co-presidents Charlie Emby and Geoffrey Greenberg about the 10-year history of the company, the changing world of licensing and product strategy as well as how they've managed …

Maximizing Digital Marketing: Cheyn Crangle of Margle Media

January 4th, 2021


In the first episode of Season 3, Richard and Chris sit down with Cheyn Crangle of Margle Media, to talk about the white-hot topic of digital …

2021--Preview of the Year Ahead, Part 2

December 28th, 2020


Richard and Chris continue the conversation  with James Zahn of The Toy Book and John Baulch of Toy World UK as they look ahead at implications for …

2020 -- Year in Review, Part 1

December 28th, 2020


Richard and Chris talk with James Zahn of The Toy Book and John Baulch of Toy World UK about the year just passed, implications for the toy business, …

Supply Chain Deep Dive: Gene Seroka of the Port of Los Angeles

December 21st, 2020


Richard and Chris talk to Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles about the supply chain, port operations and how the toy industry can approach shipping and distribution more effectively. From …

Take 10: What's Behind Rising Costs in China?

December 14th, 2020


In this brief conversation, Richard and Chris talk about rising costs in China, how they'll affect the toy business, and what a new administration may mean for Chinese/American trade relations. What's causing the …

Geoff Walker: The CEO of KidKraft on Innovation & Passion for Toy Making

December 14th, 2020


Richard and Chris talk with Geoff Walker, CEO of KidKraft about the evolution of the company on his watch, the power of, and need for, innovation in …

Trends, Insights & Powerful Research: Nick Richardson

December 7th, 2020


Join Richard and Chris as they talk with Nick Richardson, founder of Kids Insights as they talk about trends, the current kids' landscape, and Richardson's comprehensive approach to research. From global perspective to …

Take 10: Independent Toy Stores & the Pandemic

November 23rd, 2020


In this brief conversation, Richard and Chris discuss the implications of a survey suggesting that as many as, 1,800 independent toy stores in the …

Gerrick Johnson: Inside The Analyst's Process

November 23rd, 2020


Gerrick Johnson, Toy & Leisure Analyst for BMO Capital Markets, is one of the most insightful, accurate and knowledgeable analysts covering the …

Jim McCafferty of JMP Creative: Talking Invention at the Magic Workshop

November 16th, 2020


In an episode recorded back when we could still travel, Chris visited the Magic Workshop at JMP Creative in Irvine, California and spoke with …

David and Goliath: Mr. Norman on How You Play the Game

November 9th, 2020


Listen in as David Norman, president of Goliath Games, talks with Richard and Chris about his career, Goliath Games and its history, and some very …

Crazy Aaron and an Empire Built on Putty

November 2nd, 2020


Join us for an insightful conversation as Richard and Chris talk about entrepreneurship and the growth of Crazy Aaron's Puttyworld. From an idle …

Kim Culmone: The Ultimate Designing Woman for Barbie and Mattel

October 26th, 2020


You'll want to listen to this lively discussion as Richard and Chris talk with Kim Culmone, SVP, Global Head of Design Barbie & Fashion Dolls at …

Take 10: Hong Kong, Shenzhen and What Changes Mean for the Toy Biz

October 20th, 2020


In the wake of the postponement of the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, Chris and Richard discuss in this short conversation the implications for buying and the toy year, as well as what impact the rise of Shenzhen as …

The Toy Hall of Fame: Chris Bensch of the Strong Museum

October 19th, 2020


Join us for a lighthearted and informative conversation as Richard and Chris welcome back a favorite guest Chris Bensch of the Strong Museum in Rochester to talk about the Toy Hall of Fame. Get some backstage stories of …

Take 10: No Schoolyard Play & Implications for Toys: The Conversation

October 12th, 2020


Chris & Richard talk about the implications for the toy business with the loss of word-of-mouth among kids in the schoolyard as education is …

Richard Dickson, President & COO, Mattel: Insights on Play, Products and the Corporation

October 12th, 2020


Richard and Chris talk to Richard Dickson, President & COO of Mattel and get his unique, inspiring and informative take on toys, play and the opportunities and responsibilities for Mattel in this dynamic time. From …

Alan Dorfman of Super Impulse: Building a Big Business on Tiny Toys

October 6th, 2020


Richard and Chris chat with Alan Dorfman about his career, how he became the biggest guy in miniature toys, and, of course, coping with the pandemic. Listen in for his insights on the power of creating and building a …

Richard North CEO of Wow Stuff" Innovation, Licensing and Thriving in the Pandemic World

September 28th, 2020


Richard and Chris catch up with the busy Richard North, one of the founders of Wow Stuff from his car on a busy London street and they talk about the growth of the company, the challenges and opportunities of working in …

Alex Tongue: CEO of Vango Toys. Entrepreneurship, Innovation & the Power of Social Media

September 21st, 2020


Join Richard and Chris as we continue our series on Upstarts and Innovators with a conversation with Alex Tongue, CEO and founder of Vango Toys. Hear …

Chris Down, CDO Mattel on the Strategies of a Design-Led Company & More

September 14th, 2020


Join Richard and Chris in an engaging and lively conversation with Mattel's Chief Design Officer, Chris Down as they discuss Mattel's evolution into …

Ken Lewis: An Industry Veteran Talks about the Past, Present and Future of the Toy Industry

September 8th, 2020


Richard and Chris talk to industry veteran Ken Lewis, CEO of 4Kidz, Inc. Ken is a second-generation toy executive who literally grew up in the business and shares his insights about how the business has changed, what …

Jo Hall, CCO, Toys "R" Us Asia: An Inside Look at a Merchandising Powerhouse

August 31st, 2020


Join Richard and Chris as they talk with Jo Hall, Chief Commercial Officer for Toys "R" Us Asia. Jo, a highly respected industry veteran, shares her insights on what's made TRU Asia such a success over so many years, …

Mastermind Toys New CEO Sarah Jordan: On Leadership, Innovation, Service and Excellence

August 24th, 2020


Richard and Chris speak with Sarah Jordan, the new CEO of Canada's Mastermind Toys. Taking the reins in January of 2020, Jordan has had to deal with …

Ronnie Frankowski, CMO Moose Toys: Innovation, Insight and Coping with Covid from Down Under

August 17th, 2020


Join Richard & Chris for a light hearted, but substantive conversation with Ronnie Frankowski, CMO of Moose Toys. Hear how the company has …

Dr. Lisa Willams: The Fresh (Dolls) Interview & her Incredible Journey from Academia to Walmart

August 10th, 2020


Chris and Richard speak with Dr. Lisa Williams PhD, founder of Fresh Dolls. Here the amazing story of this trailblazing professor, researcher and …

ASTRA Goes Virtual: The Association Deals with COVID-19

July 31st, 2020


(33 minutes)

Chris and Richard talk with Kimberly Mosely, president of ASTRA and board member, owner of Angelina's Toys Shop and education consultant …

Anatomy of a Mega-Hit: The Story of Zuru's Rainbocorns

July 27th, 2020


(32 minutes)

In this special episode, Chris interviews senior executives at Zuru about how the international hit Rainbocorns evolved from a crazy …

From Kitchen Table to Hit Product: The Eggmazing Story, A Classic Toy Tale

July 20th, 2020


(32 minutes)

Chris talks with the inventors of the  hit product, The Eggmazing Egg Decorator. It's an amazing, funny story of a classic toy biz …

Playing with PlayMonster: A Conversation with Bob Wann & Tim Kilpin

July 13th, 2020


Richard & Chris talk with Bob Wann, chief Play Monster for PlayMonster, and the new company president, Tim Kilpin. In this lively conversation, they discuss PlayMonster's newest product entry, Snap Ships and the …

Diversity & Inclusion: Understanding The Need and Implementing Programs

July 3rd, 2020


Chris & Richard have an important conversation with Eric Pliner, CEO of YSC, an international leadership consulting firm. In the conversation, …

Catching Up with WIT: Janice Ross & Mary Kay Russell

June 26th, 2020


(31 minutes)

We sit down with Janice Ross, president of Women in Toys (WIT) and executive director Mary Kay Russell for an insightful conversation …

Bryan Stockton, Former CEO of Mattel, on The Past, Present and Future of Toys

June 19th, 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 …

Current Issues in the Dynamic Toy Industry: A Conversation with James Zahn

June 13th, 2020


(44 minutes)

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 …

Toy Fair, Licensing and What's Going on with Hong Kong: A Conversation with Jay Foreman, Part 2

June 5th, 2020


(26 minutes)

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 …

Coronavirus, Bankruptcies and Challenges in the Toy Industry 2020--A Conversation with Jay Foreman, Part 1

June 5th, 2020


(23 minutes)

Chris and Richard welcome back Jay Foreman, CEO of Basic Fun for a frank and insightful conversation about the state of the toy …

The Story of Pictionary: A Conversation with Game Inventor Rob Angel

May 28th, 2020


Chris and Richard talk with game inventor Rob Angel about Pictionary, how the phenomenon happened, and the evolution of games. thirty-five years …

Mattel During COVID-19: A Conversation with Steve Totzke, Mattel CCO

May 21st, 2020


(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 …

Music, Play and More--Josh Shriber of Jammin With You

May 15th, 2020


(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. …

Robots, Electronics and Toys--A Conversation with Davin Sufer of WowWee Toys

May 7th, 2020


Richard and Chris talk to Davin Sufer, chief technology officer at WowWee. They talk robotics, designing toys and how even as technologies advance, …

University Games: Bob Moog on the Company's History and the Future of Games, Retail and Engagement

April 28th, 2020


(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 …

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

April 21st, 2020


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 …

Inside The Learning Journey : From World Book to World Class (24 minutes)

April 13th, 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 …

Patents, Trademarks & Protecting Your IP, Part 2 (22 minutes)

April 8th, 2020


Richard and Chris continue their conversation with Joseph Farco about the tools for protecting your IP through patent, trademarks and copyrights. …

Patents, Trademarks & Protecting Your IP, Part 1 (33 minutes)

April 8th, 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 …

Coronavirus Toy Industry Update with Steve Pasierb, CEO of The Toy Association (20 minutes)

April 1st, 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 …

Current Toy Issues: Coronavirus, Plastics and Predictions

March 30th, 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 …

Arnie Rubin: A Look Back, A Look at Current Issues & His Secret of Long-Term Success

March 21st, 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 …

Transmedia Storytelling: What You Need to Know for IP & Licensing

March 3rd, 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 …

Toy Fair New York 2020: Past, Present and Predictions

February 20th, 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!

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A Groundbreaking New Platform for Inventory Management:'s Matt Hansen

February 18th, 2020


Richard and Chris talk with Matt Hansen, client engagement manager for the start-up This data-driven platform helps toy companies manage inventory, track sales and forecast demand and supply down to the …

Nuremberg 2020: Wrap-Up Trends and Conversations with Hog Wild and Lottie Dolls at Spielwarenmesse

February 12th, 2020


Chris provides some perspective on the emerging trends at Spielwarenmesse. Plus conversations with Ian Harkin of Lottie Dolls and Josh Loerzel of Hog …

Nuremberg 2020 Day 3: Overall Trends, German Market Insights And How Exhibitors Can Maximize the Show

February 2nd, 2020


Richard and Chris discuss the trends emerging at the Spielwarenmesse. A chat with Jerry Kallman provides insight for would-be exhibitors, Lisa …

Nuremberg 2020 Day 2: The Value of Toy Fairs, One Company's Sustainable Structure, and Timeless Dolls

January 31st, 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 …

Nuremberg 2020: An Interview with Mark Foster of Playmobil, Strategy, Expansion & More

January 30th, 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 …

Toy Fair New York: What to Expect, What's New...And What's Ahead

January 23rd, 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 …

The Decade in Review-Part 2: The Trends

January 13th, 2020


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 …

The Decade in Review-Part 1: The Toys

January 6th, 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, …

Year-End Conversation with Steve Pasierb Part Two

December 27th, 2019


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 …

Year-End Conversation with Steve Pasierb-Part One

December 27th, 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 …

FAO's David Nigli Talks about The Iconic Store and Brand--The Original Experiential Marketer

December 17th, 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, …

A Conversation with Keith Meggs of Far Out Toys

November 25th, 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 …

Barbie, YouTube, Dallas and More: Current Toy Industry Issues

October 30th, 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 …

The Inside Story: Content, Entertainment, Kids & More. A Conversation With the Head Writer of Paw Patrol--Part 2

October 15th, 2019


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 …

The Inside Story: Content, Entertainment, Kids & More. A Conversation With the Head Writer of Paw Patrol--Part 1

October 15th, 2019


Chris sits down with Ursula Ziegler, head writer of the smash hit Paw Patrol. Recorded in June, this episode talks about kids' entertainment, …

Staying Safe, Avoiding Counterfeits and More for Q4: A Conversation with the Toy Association

October 2nd, 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 (, a …

A Conversation with Charles Albert, CEO Creativity, Inc.

September 24th, 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 …

Tariffs, China & The Dynamics of an Uncertain Market: A Conversation with Jay Foreman CEO of Basic Fun

September 12th, 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 …

Industry Check-In: Tariffs, Hong Kong, Entertainment & More

September 6th, 2019


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 …

Innovation, Creativity and Transforming Businesses with Jamie Gallagher

August 20th, 2019


Chris and Richard talk with Jamie Gallagher, CEO of Faber-Castell about the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment and how the …

Live From Sweet Suite, Part 2: More Conversations from the Floor

August 5th, 2019


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 …

Live From Sweet Suite: Conversations with Industry Leaders

July 31st, 2019


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 …

The Changing Entertainment Landscape & What It Means for the Toy Biz

July 18th, 2019


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? …

Toys "R" Us and the Future of Toy Retailing

July 8th, 2019


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 …

Living in "What Is" vs. "What If": A Chat with Lenore Skenazy of Let Grow

June 26th, 2019


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 …

Britain, Brexit & Baulch: A Conversation with John Baulch, Founder and Managing Editor of Toy World

June 20th, 2019


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 …

A Conversation with The Hong Kong Trade Development council

June 11th, 2019


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 …

Licensing in 2019: A Conversation with Maura Regan, President Licensing International Part 2

June 3rd, 2019


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 …

Licensing in 2019: A Conversation with Maura Regan, President Licensing International Part 1

June 3rd, 2019


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 …

Tariffs: Implications & Predictions. A Conversation with the Toy Association

May 22nd, 2019


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 …

A Conversation with Tech Expert Robin Raskin - Part 2

May 15th, 2019


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 …

A Conversation with Tech Expert Robin Raskin - Part 1

May 15th, 2019


Richard and Chris sit down with family technology expert Robin Raskin, founder and president of Living in Digital Times. They talk about current …

Stem Toys Substantive Learning...Or Marketing Tool?

May 8th, 2019


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 …

Talking About the China Toy Market (and more) From the Guangzhou Toy & Edu Fair

May 1st, 2019


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, …

Toy Fair & 2019 Trends, Continued

April 26th, 2019


Richard and Chris continue the conversation about Toy Fair and product trends, with a (very) brief conversation about the evolution of the New York …

2019 Trends & Toy Fair Wrap-Up

April 22nd, 2019


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. 

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Introduction to The Playground! Come play with us!

April 22nd, 2019


Richard Gottlieb and Chris Byrne introduce The Playground Podcast, and you're invited to join us!

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