Josh West - Costumed Crime Fighters Don't Get Paid, so...

March 9, 2018

 

What do you do in the industry?


Try to model disorganization and confusion with as much grace and dignity as possible.


I am the Head of Product Design and Sourcing for Thinkfun, Inc. I'm privileged to meet with some of the most creative inventors in the world to try and find the next great puzzle or game, and then to get that game produced as only the team at Thinkfun can.

What are you working on now?


 Currently these interview questions.


I'm in between trade shows at the moment, which means my colleague Kathy and I are in the midst of sourcing the 2019 product line for Thinkfun. At this point, a lot of that is envisioning what those products could look like, so it's also a lot of conversations with the rest of the team about what people are seeing as trends, what customers are asking for, as well as bigger questions about which directions Thinkfun would like go in as we move forward.

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


I'm a horrid chef, and apparently costumed crime-fighters don't get paid, sooo....


I studied product design in school, and when you study product design it's in your best interest to choose an area to focus on. I had been working at an absolutely fantastic toy store for years, so that choice was pretty easy. I would bring a small portfolio and sneak into the New York Toy Fair in an effort to try and find contract work. Eventually I got in with Thinkfun, and introduced to the Toy Industry at large, and never looked back.

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


These kids today with their dancing and their music....


I’m excited to see that the trend in gaming not only seems to be continuing, but continuing in such as way that its giving way to exploration - it’s not only more gaming, it’s more legacy gaming, or more social deduction gaming, or more miniature gaming. That kind of expansion in a trend strikes me as a good sign that this more than just the “next trend”.

What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?


Definitely stick to toys and games, I can’t do much with plumbing hardware submissions.


Thinkfun is a little tricky, we look for things in our product line that other companies wouldn’t.


What we are most in need of now is innovation. This doesn’t necessarily mean technology, in fact in many cases it can’t on account of price. But we’re always looking for the next new way to interact with an evocative new puzzle or game.

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


Don't keep showing up to those schools anymore, someone will eventually ask you politely but firmly to leave. Other than that, don’t sweat it if you don’t know what you want to do with your life; but know that the only mistake that you can make is not to try and find out.

What does your typical day look like?


They’re usually well-lit affairs with lots of sitting up and snacks, at least compared to the nights.


I start by answering emails, I try to respond as soon as possible and not leave any correspondence unanswered. By the afternoon I usually find I have to stop answering emails and get specific tasks done by the end of the day.

What was your favorite toy or game as a child?


 I was a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe kid, hands down. I played with lots of toys, but something about a barbarian that fights a skeleton and rides a green tiger.

What was your life like growing up?


Very loving, with regular doses of sarcasm.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?


I do, but I've always felt a little guilty about them, so I'd just as soon not share them.

Summer of Winter?


Definitely winter, summer has too many m’s. And don’t give me any of this “upside down w” guff.

Favorite movie of all time?


Mary Poppins. And Star Wars, though technically that’s three movies.

Do you have any special talents?


I can wiggle one ear at a time. You read that right. Most that witness the feat will only speak of it in hushed tones.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

 

An inventor. The siren song of untold fame and glory is irresistible. And probably imagined.

What’s next?


A grilled cheese sandwich perhaps?