Toy boy: An interview with the Toys R Us Chief Play Officer
They say you shouldn’t mix work and play. For Alex Thorne, they’re basically the same thing.
Thorne is in the final days of his tenure as the Toys R Us Chief Play Officer. As CPO, it’s Thorne’s duty to test the hottest new toys in the Toys R Us inventory, and travel around the country showing them off during live events and television appreances. According to the 13-year-old Pickering, Ontario native, his list of duties are as simple as they are awesome.
“It’s my job to play with toys,” Thorne told Vancity Buzz. “Then I go on interviews and go on TV, and then I talk about the toys.”
His favourite part of the job?
“I want to say the toys, because the toys are really fun. So I’m going to say the toys,” he says. “I’m also going to say the travelling. I’ve been to Vancouver like eight times, and it’s a really wonderful city. I had someone with the PR company who would travel with me, and they traveled here so much that they moved.”
Thorne took his post in 2013, following a video submission contest. During the final selection process, the then-11-year-old Thorne was asked to prepare a presentation on several new toys in front of Toys R Us officials.
“They sent me a product list of a whole bunch of toys that I had to prepare for the interview. When I got there they had all those toys, but then that one toy that wasn’t on the product sheet, and they were like ‘Hey talk about this one,'” says Thorne. “I had to ad-lib. I did a pretty decent job, apparently, otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here right now. I’d probably be at school. Ugh.”
Outside of his role as CPO, Thorne is an up-and-comer in the world of acting. He’s currently a voice actor for the cartoons PJ Masks and PAW Patrol. Heading into his “retirement,” Thorne says he’s appreciated the lessons he’s learned thus far.
“I feel like I’ve gained maturity,” he says. “I do have to talk on live TV with a bunch of adults, and that’s going to help me in the workforce. I also want to be a host. This time as Chief Play Officer, I’ve really liked being on those live TV segments, and I really want to be one of the hosts.”
As Toys R Us looks for its next CPO, Thorne has a few key pieces practical of advice for his successor.
“It’s a one year contract, and while you may get renewed try and make the most out of every moment of being the Chief Play Officer,” he says. “Play with lots of toys. Make the most out of the traveling, because you will have spare days. Try and do stuff, and have fun.”