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PJ Palijo - Return of the Dragon

(PJ Padiljo, VP Product Design & Development, Universal Consumer Products)

What was your favorite toy or game as a child?

Let me think... Growing up in the 70’s, there were so many great toys. Star Wars, Shogun Warriors and Six Million Dollar Man were the toys that filled my memories of play. But my all time favorite toy was the Six Million Dollar Man Action Figure with bionic arm and bionic eye features. I’m still trying to find a mint condition version of the action figure. I even had a Six Million Dollar Man costume for Halloween. Ironically, I find myself working for the coPJmpany (NBC Universal) that produced the Six Million Dollar Man show.

Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?

Rewind to 1994. I just graduated with a BFA in Illustration and started working freelance, when my best friend told me about a Toy Design program at the Fashion Institute of Technology that he was planning to sign up for. I was intrigued by the program but already had a job. A couple of months later, I get a call from the chairperson of the Toy Department interested in knowing why I wanted to join the toy program. I was confused because I never signed up for it. After my conversation with the chairperson, I was definitely interested in exploring the world of toy design. Come to find out that my friend signed me up for the program without telling me. 20+ years later, I’ve had the opportunity to work for companies like Mattel, Disney, Hasbro and now NBC Universal. I really owe it to my friend, Freddy Tutiven and Judy Ellis for introducing me to this amazing industry of toys and entertainment.

What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?

Virtual Reality is very exciting and at the same time scary. I’m still a big believer that experiencing the real world and playing with physical toys will always be the best form of play for kids.

What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?

For a graduate going into the toy design industry, I would highly recommend that you know your consumer, know your industry, build your network, take creative risks and have fun.

(PJ at Pixar)

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I have the opportunity to play with toys everyday and learn from some of the most influential people in this industry. But the most rewarding part of my job is being able to help creatives grow to be leaders in the world of toy and entertainment design.

What and/or who inspires you?

I get inspired by different things I experience everyday. Creativity in people, products and content helps fuel that inspiration. I like to see what other companies outside of the toy industry are doing to drive innovation. I also find a lot of inspiration from traveling and immersing myself in different cultures. And finally, my kids are my eyes of how kids play today.

Where were you born?

I’m a 2nd generation Filipino-American born and raised in New York City. Lived in NYC until 1996 before starting a new life in Los Angeles, California.

Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?

I grew up in Washington Heights, NYC. I heard it’s called “The Heights” now. It was a tough neighborhood to grow up in but I was fortunate to have lots of support from family and friends that pushed me to explore a world outside of Washington Heights and follow my dreams to be creative. My neighborhood never defined who I am but made me appreciate where I came from.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

iPhone for everything.

How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?

Research. Trend sites and retail checks.

Do you have any kiddos?

My wife and I have two amazing kids in our lives. Peyton Jayse (8 years old) and Phoebe Jayde (6 years old). They have my initials and have become my little army of PJsJ

Do you have any pets?

We have a sulcata tortoise. He’s about 70 lbs and the size of an ottoman.

What is your eye color?

Brown. Red when I can’t sleep.

Summer of Winter?

In California I can get both at the same timeJ During CA winters, I can go snowboarding in Mammoth with my family and drive back and spend a day at the beach all in one weekend.

What’s your favorite TV show?

Right now, it’s Game of Thrones

Favorite movie of all time?

Favorite movie of all time would have to be Return of the Dragon with Bruce Lee. I can watch that movie over and over again. The fight between him and Chuck Norris was epic. Bruce Lee was one of my idols growing up because he was the best at what he did and always challenged himself to evolve.

(Kaws Installation NYC)

What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

Melbourne, Australia

What are your hobbies?

I collect too many things. My excuse is seeing things I collect as “art pieces”. Toys, sneakers and anything Supreme is the majority of my collection/addictionJ

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Do we ever grow up in the toy industry?

(Fast and Furious Mattel Brainstorm)

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