Inside THE TOY BOX Season Premiere

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What do a multicultural singing doll, a party cannon and a backyard swing inspired by a surfboard have in common?  They are all toys competing in THE TOY BOX premiere episode for a shot at the grand prize – a chance to be mass produced by Mattel and sold exclusively at Toys“R”Us® after series finale!

During a recent all-expense-paid press trip to Pixar Animation Studios, I had the opportunity to screen THE TOY BOX and interview show mentor, Jen Tan about this exciting new show.  Tan is the creative director of Consumer Products at Pixar Animation Studios and one of 3 mentors who screen toy inventions before they move to “The Toy Box” panel of young judges. Read on to step inside this fascinating show!

Inside THE TOY BOX Season Premiere


In each episode of ABC’s upcoming toy-competition series, THE TOY BOX inventors present their toy concepts to a group of mentors. If the toy makers get 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 is eventually crowned the winner. The eight-episode series premieres FRIDAY, APRIL 7 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EST), on the ABC Television Network.

If you think the trailer is funny, you’re in for an even bigger treat when you watch the full show!  As a fan of competition shows, I knew I liked the premise and would likely enjoy the series, but I didn’t expect the show to be so hilarious.  The light-hearted, yet personal approach really makes each episode a fun experience.  It’s really a rollicking good time and a great family-orientated program that will appeal to all ages.

Meet THE TOY BOX Host and Mentors

Host Eric Stonestreet currently stars as Cameron Tucker on ABC’s comedy series “Modern Family.  You may also know him from HBO’s “Confirmation,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” “The Loft,” “Identity Thief,” “Bad Teacher” and “American Horror Story.”

Mentor Dylan Lauren, founder and CEO of Dylan’s Candy Bar, is best know as the “Candy Queen”. Her stores are considered “the most original candy emporiums on the planet” and “must-see American cultural icons.”

Mentor, Jim Silver, CEO/editor-in-chief of TTPM (Toys, Tots, Pets & more), is nationally recognized as one of the preeminent experts in play. TTPM was the first site to review toys online and currently reviews more than 5,000 products every year.

Menor, Jen Tan is the creative director of Consumer Products at Pixar Animation Studios. In this position, her mission is to uphold and protect the integrity and legacy of Pixar films by enhancing and extending the consumer experience through the design and execution of all types of consumer products around the globe. Tan works side by side with studio executives and filmmakers to ensure that any product – including action figures, play-sets, games, ride-ons, journals, plush, etc. – is made to be appealing and authentic to the studio’s designs and stories of the films.

Tan said there are a lot of different things she looks for in a really good toy, but she’s always on the search for a toy that allows a child to be creative, sparks imagination and is not a “one trick pony.” For example – can the child play with it multiple times or are there various ways to play? She things tech toys are good but can get a little repetitive and appreciates that many of the toys they review on the show are fun, classic toys.

“I think there is a lot of room for innovation in the toy industry,” said Tan. “We’re always looking for newness, always looking for new innovative products. There’s a lot of growing that the toy industry can do in terms of also what kind of products they offer to kids. Even though you see a lot more diversity now in toys, I think there’s still a long way to go. And I think that that’s one gap I’d love to fill. Or see be filled.”


Meet THE TOY BOX Judges

Sophia Grace Brownlee and her cousin Rosie McClelland, both from Essex, England, make up the duo Sophia Grace & Rosie. Sophia Grace debuted music videos on her official YouTube Channel like her Billboard Hot 100 charting single “Best Friends” and “Girls Just Gotta Have Fun.” After signing a recording deal with Capitol Records France, she has released her third single, “Girl in the Mirror,” featuring Silentó, in June 2016.

Aalyrah Caldwell hails from San Diego, California, and was a series regular on the ABC show Uncle Buck with Mike Epps and Nia Long. Other TV credits include a guest-starring role on “Code Black,” “The Fosters” and “Key and Peele,” and a leading role in the dramatic film “Cardinal X.”

Toby Grey became recognizable for his comedic work on Fandango’s “Reel Kids,” commenting and reviewing family films. He continued to make us laugh with videos for “Buzzfeed,” “Funny or Die,” “College Humor” and “A Little Advice.”

Noah Ritter has appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” from 2014 thru 2015 and in commercials for Liberty Mutual Insurance and Visa that appeared on Ellentube 2016. He co-hosted the 2014 Viral Videos segment with NFL star Michael Strahan for ABC’s “The Year.”


Inside THE TOY BOX Season Premiere

“Episode 101” is the premiere of THE TOY BOX on The ABC Television Network.  Featured are five amateur inventors who have put their hearts, souls and investments into their unique toy concepts with hopes of impressing the mentors and making it to The Toy Box where young, no-nonsense judges determine if they will earn the chance to compete for the grand prize in the series finale.

This episodes toy inventions include:

  • Arya Ball – a reimagining of the soccer ball with special surprises inside from inventor Babak (Carlsbad, California)
  • Wacky Worm Racing Game – a racing game where players dressed in a worm costume race to cross the finish line from inventor Cedric (Orlando, Florida)
  • Niya Doll – a multicultural doll collection who sings and speaks in multiple languages from inventor Darla (Columbia, South Carolina)
  • Swurfer – a backyard swing inspired by a surfboard from inventor Rob (Charleston, South Carolina)
  • Party Cannon – a party game that launches toys, prizes and candy from inventor Rick (Miami Springs, Florida)

You will easily find yourself rooting for your favorites throughout the show and it’s very interesting and enlightening to hear what the mentors have to say and see how the judges respond to each toy.  If you’ve ever dreamed of inventing the next big break-out toy (or any other invention, for that matter) there’s a lot to be learned throughout the show to help you along your journey.  If you are just a toy enthusiast, enjoy competition shows, or simply like a show that makes you smile, laugh and learn a little in the process, you’ll love watching THE TOY BOX.

For more information on THE TOY BOX, check our their Facebook page at, Instagram @TheToyBox, and Twitter @ TheToyBoxABC.

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Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an the author of "Getting Laid" and "Getting Baked". A sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky, wen she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s writing about country living and artisan culture.
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