Toys“R”Us Unveils New Branding, Encourages Kids to Go Out and Play
September 30, 2017

It’s five o’clock somewhere… so that probably means you’ve just picked up your daughter from soccer practice, dropped off your son at piano lessons – and where’s the third kid again? RIGHT! You’re late to pick him up from a play-date. Dinner plans? Pizza (again) between homework sessions.

Yesterday, We Just Sold Toys…But Today, We Play!

When is the last time you tossed a few toys in the yard and told the kids to be home before the street lights come on? Between school, homework, sports, activities, play dates, detention (oh, just my kids?) – these days, children’s schedules are packed more than our own.

So, what’s the solution? Leave them kids alone. “Play” is under attack! It’s more structured and less fun than ever before., games are now called “learning activities,” playdates are scheduled, and sports are over-competitive.

  • Children’s free time has dropped by 25% since 1981
  • Kids today spend 50% less time in unstructured outdoor activities than children in the 1970s
  • As children play, they develop critical cognitive, emotional, social and physical skills

So, where does Toys“R”Us come in? Well, we’ve spent some time thinking more about how we can better serve our customers and communities. Are we the World’s Greatest Toy Store? Absolutely! Are we equally as obsessed with toys as your kids? You bet! Is that it? No way! We are so much more – we are CHAMPIONS of PLAY.

As we evolved our brand’s philosophy, we saw an incredible opportunity to use our powers for good (aka, leverage our position as a leader in the toy industry), and join the global conversation about the importance of ‘free play’ for kids. We know that there is so much more to a toy than what’s in the box – it’s the imagination, invention and creativity that goes into playing with that toy that makes it fun.

Want to get a feel for it yourself? Check out the video below – by the way, if you are a fan of the Night at the Museum movies or Netflix’s Stranger Things, we think you are going to LOVE this (it was directed and produced by the famous Shawn Levy!) You may also see it on TV, so #nbd.


In a nutshell, we don’t want families to just shop with us – we want them to play with us. With that, we are working on some exciting new programs and initiatives that our customers can look forward to:

  • This fall, we are launching PLAY LABS at 42 Toys“R”Us stores where kids (and parents!) can play with some of this season’s hottest toys. Not sure if an item will be too advanced for your little one? Now’s your chance to “test” toys on kids’ holiday wish lists before making a purchase!
  • Looking for a seasonal job? We created a brand-new team member role in our stores – drum roll please SEASONAL TOY DEMONSTRATOR! If by “working” you mean demoing toys and playing with kids, then you can count me in.

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 26: A general view of the Grand Opening of the new Toys “R” Us Times Square Holiday Shop on August 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Toys “R” Us)

  • We want families to find ways to “etch out some playtime” – so we are creating experiential moments in places where you would least expect it. Imagine your typical Friday morning rise and grind was intercepted by a moment of play.
  • On Friday, October 6, we are bringing a giant, interactive Etch a Sketch screen to the Fulton Street Subway Station in NYC, reminding nose-to-the-ground commuters that EVERYONE needs some unstructured fun! Quick game of tick-tack-toe before heading to the office?

  • Or let’s say you’re in need of a study break and Toys“R”Us rolls up to your campus ready to its Frisbee on? This fall, we will be visiting select colleges with a van filled with toys to remind the “big kids” what it’s like to play.
  • Members of the proud nerd nation will love our presence at New York Comic Con this year. For the first time ever, we will have our own shoppable booth for fans. We’re also super excited because our booth at the show will serve as the official first-look at Fan Vault, our new in-store collector experience.
  • And it’s not just us – our partners want free play for kids too! This summer we teamed up with Nickelodeon to host a handful of special outdoor play events at our stores leading up to Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play on Saturday, September 30. And this past July, our very own President of Play, Ariana Gentry, joined hundreds of kids along with Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA, Nickelodeon and Playworks to celebrate youth sports programs around the country.

We’re just getting started – stay tuned throughout the holiday season for more – including the announcement of a new app that brings our stores to life and a special partnership with New York City’s famous Christmastime #squad!

Want more info? Visit!

Sources: (Resurrecting Free Play in Young Children Looking Beyond Fitness and Fatness to Attention, Affiliation, and Affect Hillary L. Burdette, MD, MS;
Robert C. Whitaker, MD, MPH); (2011 American Journal of Play by Boston College research expert Peter Gray, PhD.);; 

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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  • Chris (@1000thghostauto) says:

    LOL….. I remember when KB Toys did this. They took a tons of toys out and lets the kids play with them. Did it help sales? Nope all we got was a tons of broken toys and a huge mess to clean up all day long.

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