The Toy Box + an Interview with Mentor Jen Tan

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What would you do if your kids could decide what the next big toy would be? As a parent, the idea intrigues me, since my kids have very opinionated views of the new toys that are released. Well, The Toy Box on ABC will give us a peek at what this process would be like.

The new ABC show, The Toy Box, places toy inventors in front of mentors who will help them streamline their product pitch, and decide if their invention will make it to “The Toy Box.” Eric Stonestreet (yes, from Modern Family) hosts this “Shark Tank” meets “Romper Room” show, so you know there will be comedic moments in every show.

The Toy Box

In each episode of “The Toy Box,” 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 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.

The Toy Box Judges

What happens when the inventors reach The Toy Box? They go head to head with 4 of the best judges there are: kids! Each week, judges 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”) put the toys and the inventors to the test, and decide which toys will make it to the finale.

The Toy Box

An Interview with Jen Tan

During our recent trip to Pixar Animation Studios, we had the pleasure to interview The Toy Box Mentor Jen Tan. Jen joined Pixar Animation Studios in June 2013 as the creative director of Consumer Products. She has spurred notable partnerships with Mattel, helping to create collectible buddy figures and action figures for “Toy Story 3” and “Toy Story that Time Forgot,” developing the new “Toy Story Minis” collectibles segment, continuing the growing collectible die-cast for “Cars” and launching the high-end collectible “Cars” Precision Series line; Thinkway, which yielded a “Toy Story” Signature Collection during “Toy Story 3” and the Disney•Pixar Collection; as well as the “Finding Dory” Disney Store Plush collection and Bandai’s “Finding Dory” toy line.

So basically, Jen is legit! There were some awesome insights that Jen gave us during our interview.

THE TOY BOX - Jen Tan is a Mentor on ABC's The Toy Box JEN TAN
THE TOY BOX – Jen Tan is a Mentor on ABC’s The Toy Box

The Makeup of A Good Toy

When it comes to a really good toy, Jen says…

“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. Something that I think allows a child to be creative. Or allows them to have a lot of fun.”

We asked Jen if she had a background in toys before she came to Pixar.

“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. I started off as a toy designer. And I got a job at Disney Consumer Products, out of school. Then I worked at Spin Master for a little bit, worked on some actual toy designs, and I came here to work on more toys.”

When Jen was asked how difficult it was to be a Mentor, and decide what toys would reach the judges, she admitted it was difficult.

“We had to make the decision on the spot. There were some of the decisions I couldn’t make in my head. And I had to weigh all these options. When you hear someone say, ‘I’ve spent this amount of money, I spent, my kid’s college tuition. And it’s on this one idea. And I spent all these years doing it.’ It was very stressful.”

It was such a pleasure to hear from Jen, and watch the first episode of The Toy Box.

Tune into The Toy Box on ABC, Friday, April 7th, at 8pmET/7pmCT.

About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

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