Sam and Liz from Toy de Jour
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
Liz: Sam and I started collecting/buying/selling toys when we were still teenagers living in St. Louis. I think it was before ebay, or at least before we had computers at home. We mostly sold around St. Louis at random toy shows.
Sam: Since we had always been collecting and selling toys as Liz mentioned, it made sense that when I found myself in a job that didn't fit that we should give a brick and mortar location a shot. My background in the industry actually started as a comics publisher here in Chicago that spun into a creative services company (mainly doing vendor work for Hasbro) that eventually led to a job that consisted of to too many spreadsheets and meetings about nothing for my liking.
What’s your favorite cereal?
Liz: I can't believe you asked this because my favorite cereal of all time is S'mores cereal which was discontinued BUT IT JUST CAME BACK. I'm buying tons of boxes and burying them in the backyard.
Sam: We rarely eat cereal any more, but I'm a fan of BooBerry as a character. I think the last cereal I was really into was Cracklin' Oat Bran, I don't think they make that any more though.
Do you prefer scary movies or happy endings?
Liz: Scary movies for sure even though I can't always keep my eyes on the screen since the are often covered by my hands. Happy endings make me gag a little.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
Sam: As a retailer with some focus on action figures both vintage and new, it's nice to see the way Bandai is handling their newest line of Power Ranger figures and related toys. While they have some sort of smaller (and cheaper) capsule type toy that kids plug into some larger accessory, they also bombarded the shelves with a massive action figure line that not only contains the core Power Rangers that all kids and collectors expect to see from incarnation to incarnation, but they also released as many if not more villain figures at the same time.
Power Rangers has always had some very interesting villains, and this new story line is no different. There's upwards of 12 weird and somewhat scary characters to collect. And at this point I should probably mention I'm not a Power Rangers fan, got out of collecting as a kid right before the first show got big here in the States and yet, I've personally bought each and every one of the villain figures from this new toy line. I have no idea who any of these characters are, or why I should care other than great designs and sculpts - but that's enough for me.
Liz: It's worth mentioning that Bandai has done all this while keeping the price point under $10 per figure at retail, something very few other toy manufacturers have been able to do (Playmates Toys aside with their long-running TMNT brand) when it comes to other well-established brands.
Summer of Winter?
Liz: Summer when I'm thinner. Winter when I'm chubby.
Sam: I love being able to wear hoodies all the time, so Winter.
Hugs or Kisses?
Liz: Awkward handshake.
Sam: It's true, saying goodnight in our household is very formal.
Do you have any special talents?
Sam: No, but Liz is a wonderful actress/comedian and she can also juggle.
Liz: I can ALMOST juggle.
What are your hobbies?
Liz: Lately just sitting in the backyard. Which is what I'm doing now.
Sam: Hard to see this one coming, but toy collecting. Ha! I also don't get paid often to do graphic design so I guess that can be called a hobby too.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Liz: Other people's He-Mans. I only got She-ras because I was a girl. The He-Mans were way cooler.
Sam: I think it's interesting that with the store, we hear tons of people recounting their favorite toys and toy lines from when they were little, and it's got me to think about how much what we hold dear as a kid was partially guided by what our parents decided to buy us as gifts early on. Really, someone could have their lives changed if their grandma would have picked up a Luke Skywalker instead of a Beast Man while Christmas shopping at Venture.
Many of the people in the toy and game industry today are involved because of a deep-rooted love for a certain toy or brand they had (or really wanted but never got) as a child. And now you really see that come across as those people that grew up with a lot these brands are now the ones making the decisions on what gets produced or released to today's fans and collectors.
I am, and always will be a G.I. Joe fan. But had I not gotten a Cobra HISS tank when I was four or five, I probably would have moved on to some other toy line altogether and I could tell you if that was the case, I probably wouldn't be where I am today.
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?
Sam: I find that I keep a lot of my personal projects as well as projects for the store under wraps for whatever reason, I'm not exactly sure. But if I do get stuck or see that something is taking longer than it should, I'll try to share it with someone that I know will be able to give me some good feedback and thus help make it real and force me to get whatever it is finally finished.
If it's a project I'm working on for someone else; multiple texts, emails and phonecalls usually does the trick. :D
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Liz: Actually it was the whole time I rode home on my bike. I'm listening to this podcast for the second time. It's called 'Hello From the Magic Tavern'. And it was my favorite episode: #46 assassin.
Sam: Probably something Chip said on 'Fixer Upper'. That show is on a lot at our house and he is a DELIGHT. Oh wait, I just saw a comedy show that Liz was in, I should probably change my answer. Do you have any pets? Liz: We have two old man cats named Shadow and Roary. They are hovering near 15- 20 years old, puke all over our important stuff and had better live forever. What’s next? Sam: Believe it or not... we actually launched a Kickstarter for Toy de Jour's first game. I don't want to use this interview as an ad, but if you follow @ToydeJour on Facebook or Instagram, you will see us posting about it a lot. And again, if you follow us on either one of those platforms, you'll kind of already know the type of humor and attitude that is going into the game itself. We're hoping to make a lot of enemies.
I mean money.
Eh, either works.