Phil Albritton: “Delivering Christmas”
I wore a stocking for my first photograph.
On the evening of December 25th, 1976, the nurses wrapped me up like a present to have my picture taken for the front page of the Jacksonville Times. When I was a boy, I was told that Santa Claus had delivered me to my parents – is it any wonder I wanted to follow in the big man’s footsteps and become a toymaker? Truly, I owe my motivation to my parents. My mother was an innovative 2nd grade teacher, and my father was a talented public speaker with a passion for comics and toys.
From them, I learned that playtime is not frivolous but precious. I grew up to pursue a degree in Marketing and Media Arts, where I focused my every paper and project on the toy industry. If I had a marketing essay due, I wrote about how Todd McFarlane was shaking-up the action figure aisle. If the assignment were to shoot a commercial, I loaded-up on Kenner Batman toys and made miniature sets from scratch.
Although it seemed like my fate was sealed, the fact is that it takes years of perseverance and hard work to stay in the game.
Directly after college, I became a marketing assistant at Kidpower in Brentwood, Tennessee. Although a small company, their batting average was impressive. They had several homerun products, including the String Racer and Roller Racer, which sold multi-millions of units. My first brush with a mega hit was the Funnoodle. I started at Kidpower in the early days of Funnoodle. TV advertising let us reach customers across the country en masse and drive them to retail. The Noodle was a smash hit; the #1 summer toy in those years. The company was able to pivot quickly and catch trends as soon as they appeared, and I soaked up as much knowledge as I could about marketing, sales, and operations.
Opportunities abounded for me here. I could start the week developing packaging for the next wave of Noodle products, and by Friday would be shooting a sizzle reel for battling robots. We developed all manner of categories including plush, hard goods, and candy items. I would eventually become the Creative Director at Kidpower, and every day, I honed my skills with copywriting, photography, graphic design, sculpting, prototyping, painting, and film making. I loved every minute of it – from my first steps into Javits and the Toy Building to long hours preparing mockups for pitch meetings.
Power Kid is Born
After 3 years, the Funnoodle brand was sold, and I was armed with the skills I needed for my next adventure. Though I had offers on the table from several large toy companies, I was drawn to work more widely with my toy industry friends and create new opportunities for independent artists. I decided to start my own business. In 2003, I founded Power Kid, named as an homage to the company where I cut my teeth.
Power Kid is a full-service studio that offers invention, illustration, branding, packaging, and consulting services. I have been blessed to create hundreds of long-running and award-winning products. I have developed swim gear under every licensed brand imaginable, and Power Kid has had products placed at Target and Walmart every year since our founding. In 2017, we developed the top two selling products in the Walmart novelty section, and they are still going strong today. However, some of my favorite work has been in consulting.
Each of our clients has different market focuses, distribution methods, and customer bases. And not all our clients are toy companies; I have developed packaging products for Dell Computers, FedEx, and Barrett Rifles. As a business owner, every day I take up the challenge to be more innovative and more client-focused.
Sharing Other’s Stories
Three years ago I envisioned a podcast that would allow industry professionals to champion their work outside of the traditional methods. I also knew this would fill a niche. Although shows existed that featured vintage products and modern collector toys, there was no program dedicated to the industry’s current state and its cast of characters. My peers and clients are creative, fun, and passionate, yet no one was telling their stories.
In Oct 2017, I launched the Power Kid Podcast. It was the first of its kind to focus solely on the modern toy and game industry. After over 150 episodes, I am tremendously pleased with the results! I have heard from hundreds of listeners who love the show and get actionable value from it. The show has inspired new business ventures, promoted smash hit products, and has even been used as curriculum by toy design programs.
Product is king, but it is the people that make this industry hum. Whether I’m working with you on your next game design, walking through the play pattern of your newest toy, or interviewing you on the podcast, my goal is the same – I want to create great experiences. This industry is fast-moving and gets faster every year. Even before the pandemic, there was always something new to learn, always some new direction to pivot.
In my career, I have learned that the most critical element of a successful business is the relationships surrounding it. As we speed towards the end of the year, I would encourage you to slow down and say thank you to the people that support you, professionally and personally. Then let’s get back to work, delivering the same joy we found so many Christmas’s ago.
Interested in finding out more and receiving an expanded PDF of our work? Interested in chatting about our consulting services? Have a great story to tell on the podcast? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also check out the website here: www.powerkiddesign.com
PS: Don’t forget to subscribe to the Power Kid Podcast: https://toybook.com/category/news/podcast/