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A daily look back at the toys, games, and objects that captured our attention as children and continue to fascinate us today.
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The Friday Five

Look into the minds of movers and shakers in the play industry – five questions, one fascinating person.

The Friday Five: Ellia Kassoff

KB Toys set the industry abuzz with news of its reinvention. Toy Tales talks with CEO Ellia Kassoff about the history of the beloved toy retailer and how he’s re-imagining the brand for today’s consumer.

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The Friday Five: Andrei Cimpian

Doctor Andrei Cimpian studies the effects of gender stereotypes on young children in his cognitive development lab at New York University. Here, he explains his work and expands on his contribution to Mattel’s Dream Gap Project.

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The Friday Five: Meghan Melvin

Winnie-the-Pooh’s world comes to life at a new exhibit hosted by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Curator Meghan Melvin shares her thoughts about why Pooh’s world remains universally popular.

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The Friday Five: Chris Bensch

Chris Bensch is Chief Curator at The Strong in Rochester, New York. In this interview, he provides insight into the acquisition, conservation, and archival process, as well as sharing his advice for storing collectibles at home.

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The Friday Five: Josh Perelman

The Rube Goldberg exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History honours the life and work of cartoonist, sculptor, and inventor. The Museum’s chief curator, Josh Perelman, talks with Toy Tales about the exhibit and explains why Goldberg’s work remains relevant decades after the artist’s death.

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The Friday Five: Steve Dubnik

The Strong in Rochester, New York announced an expansion in 2018. Its CEO and President, Steve Dubnik, talked to Toy Tales about the importance of play and the role of the Museum in its surrounding communities.

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The Friday Five: Mitchel Wu

Mitchel Wu has a passion for artistic expression and storytelling that’s led him from a career at Disney to work as a professional toy photographer. Wu talks with Toy Tales about his path to a career in toy photography and shares his advice for budding toy photographers.

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The Friday Five: Marty Abrams

Legendary toymaker, Mego Corporation, is rebooting after shuttering in 1983. Company CEO Marty Abrams talks with Toy Tales about Mego’s return with the “Marty Abrams presents Mego” line and what consumers can expect from the revitalized organization.

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The Friday Five: Tony Reich

Tony Reich is president of the Toronto-based Canadian Toy Collectors’ Society, a not-for-profit organization serving individuals with a passion for toy collecting and a desire to preserve Canadian toy history for future generations. Reich talks about the mission of the Society and the appeal that toy collecting has for adults.

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The Friday Five: Carmel Giblin

As CEO of the ICTI Ethical Toy Program, Carmel Giblin’s mission is to create positive change in an industry sometimes called to task for violations of worker’s rights. Giblin explains how the program protects workers, buyers, brands, and consumers worldwide.

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The Friday Five: Vlad Dragusin

Candylab Toys applies a mid-century modern aesthetic to vintage-inspired, wooden toy cars. Through crowdfunding, Candylab Toys has experienced a success that may not otherwise have been possible in today’s world of cheap, cookie-cutter manufacturing. Co-founder Vlad Dragusin talks with Toy Tales about his inspiration, crowdfunding experience, and lets us in on what’s in store for the future.

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The Friday Five: Benjamin Woo

Benjamin Woo is Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. His new book, Getting a Life: The Social Worlds of Geek Culture, examines the communities that thrive within geek culture.

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The Friday Five: Sean Kenney

Sean Kenney is an award-winning LEGO artist and one of only 19 LEGO Certified Professionals in the world. In fact, Kenney worked with the iconic brick manufacturer to create the LEGO Certified Professionals program, which supports the work of LEGO artists to produce awe-inspiring works of art. Kenney tells Toy Tales how his childhood fondness for LEGO evolved into a career and gives insight into his internationally renowned exhibit, Nature Connects.

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The Friday Five: Brooks Peck

Marvel: Universe of Superheroes exhibit. Exhibit curator, Brooks Peck, tells us what fans can expect to see and hear at this first-of-its-kind installation.

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The Friday Five: Annie Jacques

Annie Jacques, exhibition interpretation officer at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, explains why The Art of the Brick – a travelling LEGO-art exhibit with a worldwide reputation – will delight audiences of all ages.

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The Friday Five: Matthew Baker

As the popularity of LEGO increases among adults, so too has the number of adult LEGO user groups. Fueled by a desire to build and share their experiences, LEGO user groups (LUGs) continue to proliferate around the world, with members acting as informal ambassadors for the LEGO brand. Matthew Baker is one such ambassador. Baker is an executive member of ParLUGment, an Ottawa-area LUG. He talks with Toy Tales about LEGO collecting and explains the qualities that make ParLUGment unique.

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The Friday Five: Rachel Jones

As the counterfeit industry has proliferated through the advent of online shopping, so too have the efforts to halt corrupt manufacturers. Through SnapDragon, Rachel Jones – CEO and founder – is at the forefront of the fight. Jones explains the fight’s importance and why it’s crucial for consumers to exercise diligence when making online purchases.

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The Friday Five: Kim Smith – Learning Beautiful

Kim Smith is an advocate for teaching computational literacy to children. An artist and designer by trade, Smith spent time at MIT’s Media Lab collaborating with computer scientists to create wooden toys that tap into children’s natural curiosity and pave the way for learning the basic concepts of computer science. Her time at MIT led to her co-found Learning Beautiful, a company created to further her research and bring her analog toys to market. Here, she elaborates on why computational literacy is important for everyone, including children.

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