The Toy Box on ABC

Early April, ABC’s newest reality series, The Toy Box, hit the airwaves. Hosted by Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet and produced in collaboration with Mattel, this competition show gives toy creators the chance to pitch their idea in hopes of getting their toy produced by Mattel and sold at Toys R Us. In order to win the competition, toy creators need to first pitch their idea to three mentors: Dylan’s Candy Bar owner Dylan Lauren, toy guru Jim Silver and Pixar’s creative director of consumer products, Jen Tan. If the contestant can convince two of the three mentors that their idea is solid, creators then move onto four pint sized judges: Sophia Grace, Aalyrah, Toby and Noah. From the looks of it, the show will feature five aspiring creators, three going onto the four kid judges. Of those three, one is chosen to go to the finals, which will air at the end of the series.

Four weeks in and this is my opinion of the series so far. I’m not in love with the overall format of the show. As someone who’d tried to get a reality show about toy production off the ground, I found myself critiquing the production and format a little more than your casual TV viewer! “If I were producing this, I’d…” was definitely something I found myself thinking a few times while watching The Toy Box! The biggest head scratcher for me is to the point of the mentors. Since Mattel will be distributing this product, you would expect one of them to be a Mattel employee, right, like a VP of design or something? But none of them are attached to Mattel, as far as I can tell. Jim Silver, I can sort of understand, being the head of TTPM, a large toy review site, but the other two judges from Dylan’s Candy Bar and Pixar seem out of place. Besides their qualifications, I’m unsure as to if they are really necessary. Unlike Shark Tank, they don’t really seem like long lasting mentors. They are taking no stake in the toy at all. It seems like they’re only going to be in the toy creators life once (to pitch) and then that’s it. Moreover, unless production is cutting out a lot of the discussion between the mentors and the contestant, they don’t seem to be giving good, constructive advice.

I can’t say anything negative about the kid judges, though. They were quite entertaining. (Plus, they’re just kids!) One thing that entertains me is when the adult mentors will throw shade, so to speak, at a toys concept or construction, just to have the kids say that they love that particular element in the three toy face off.

There have been some interesting toy concepts put up for the competition, though so far, none of the dolls have been all that great. One bright note so far is the fact that My Ballerina Dolls, which competed in The Toy Box week 2, won a place in the finals.

At this point, there are many things I would change about The Toy Box. First, I would drop the adult mentors. They’re kind of useless, especially since none of them represent or work for Mattel. Second, I’d theme the weeks to specific types of toys: dolls, games, outdoor… It doesn’t seem like putting a doll against an outdoor water tag game against a parachute toy is fair to the toy inventors. I’d rather see five dolls battle it out and then, a week later, have five outdoor toys duke it out. At the very end of the series, the top toys in their categories could then go head to head in a battle royale. But, alas, they didn’t ask me.

Are you watching The Toy Box? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comment area.

April 28, 2017. Uncategorized.


  1. Madelon replied:

    I enjoyed your insightful review of The Toy Box. I watched the first few weeks, but missed this week’s episode. The ballerinas were my favorite toy so far and I am rooting for them. Your point about grouping toys by theme is well made. It seems like a more even playing field to do it that way. Showing the kids discuss the toys in more detail would be interesting. I am sad for the inventors who poured so much time and money into their ideas get rejected by the Magic Eight Ball or dismissed by the mentors.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      The Magic Eight ball… I didn’t even want to get started on that. I find that kind of pointless, too.

  2. Taswegian1957 replied:

    This show has not come down under as yet and I don’t know if I’d watch it anyway because I can’t stand reality television. However, having said that I think that your comments are good ones. Not having watched Shark Tank or it’s overseas equivalents I can’t comment on the mentor roles but in talent shows the mentors/judges who are usually failed celebs seem to make it all about them not the contestant. It makes more sense to let the children critique the toys more and I do agree with you about themes. It would make more sense to have each episode about one type of toy.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Rest assured, you’re not missing much. (I quite enjoyed watching The Amazing Race Australia. I wish they’d done more seasons of that!)

      • Taswegian1957 replied:

        I watched The Amazing Race USA for years and in the beginning I enjoyed it but by the time the Australian version came out it was more about the politics and less about the puzzles which was the part I enjoyed.

  3. Walking the Toy Aisle | Confessions of a Doll Collectors Daughter replied:

    […] season of the toy based reality show and has made some big changes. Some of which, I might add, I suggested here in a blog post. They cut the (useless) adult mentors out completely and are going with just the […]

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