AFI Event – Living in a Post-Toys ‘R’ Us World: Navigating the Future of Toy Retail – SDCC 2018 Panel
August 1, 2018

I’ve been putting together and moderating panels at San Diego Comic Con about the toy industry for over 17 years.  Every year I like to try to change up the topics and the participants some to make sure each year feels fresh.  This year I felt like I had to cover the biggest story of the toy industry for the year –  The death of Toys R Us.  I was fortunate enough that all of the guest I asked to participate in the panel were available and made the journey to the convention.

This panel was a real thrill for me and I loved being a part of it.  Our discussion could have easily gone on for another 3 hours. I’d like to say a big, personal “THANK YOU” to Richard, James, Jason and Steve for participating this year!   Thank you to everyone that attended in person.  If you didn’t make it to the panel this year we did record it and I present it to you below.  Enjoy – D.

The bankruptcy and liquidation of “the world’s biggest toy store” Toys ‘R’Us earlier this year has sent shockwaves through the toy industry. Many toys and smaller toy companies are left without a brick and mortar store presence. Is there a retailer that could rise to take the place of the fallen retail giant? Do you truly need a retail presence to launch a toy line? We will take the temperature of the toy and collectibles industry and find the light in the darkness just like our favorite heroes with this panel of experts including Steven Anne ( Category Manager Toys/Licensing – Walgreens), Richard Gottlieb (Principal and Founder – Global Toy Group), Jason Labowitz ( Co-Founder and BifBangPow!) James Zahn (The Rock Father) moderated by Daniel Pickett (founder


This discussion took place on July 21st, 2018 at San Diego Comic Con International.

Daniel Pickett
Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since. In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features. He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced. In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s “Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on,, The Wall Street Journal, The Saturday Evening Post,,,, Boing-Boing,, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows. But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.
Read other articles by Daniel Pickett.




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