Richard Dickson, President and COO Mattel, Inc., visited Spielwarenmesse® 2018 in Nuremberg, too. Amid of his many appointments he answered some questions about the Spirit of Play to the Spielwarenmesse team.
Spielwarenmesse®: Mattel is known for iconic toys. What are the key skills, Mattel would like to contribute to children’s development through play?
Richard Dickson: Mattel always has been about child development. Our biggest brand Barbie inspires girls to imagine that they can be anything they want to be. And we prove that every day, through our products and the variety of content. The different stories that we tell inspire girls with limitless potential. So in Barbie’s case we stimulate imagination.
What else does Mattel impart to kids?
R.D.: Hot Wheels is more than just a toy. It´s a tool that helps kids develop life skills. The essential ingredient of Hot Wheels is about challenge. Kids try the challenge to be able to go faster, the challenge to go to the loop. Every car they race and every obstacle they jump teaches them to take on anything.
How about younger kids?
R.D.: Child development is a signature part of Fisher- Price. Through all the various different ages and stages of infancy through preschool we have toys that teach cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. We have a team of people that study kids and what they want and what they need and how to develop toys to service that.
So which requests do your toys have to fulfill?
R.D.: Our toys have to be fun and they have to be safe but they represent development as well. And now what we are trying to do is to make sure that mums and dads, particular millennial mums and dads, understand the purpose of our brands.
Do you think parents of the future care about granting their kids digital detox time?
R.D.: There is the challenge of handling screen time. I think parents are going to be limiting screen time for kids. So within that period of limitation that’s when physical toys can come to a really important place in people’s lives. Playing with a vehicle, playing with a doll, constructing essentially the whole world stimulates imagination. Physical play is really important and a developmental need that millennial mums and dads will recognize more and more. As times moves on there will be more and more discipline around screen-time management. Open-ended play ignites creativity and imagination and is very valuable.
Will the digital natives – the parents of tomorrow – still ask for offline toys for their kids?
R.D.: Digital is part of our life. Many physical things will be connected to digital features. And we believe it is incredibly important in a world of technology, that kids and boys have balance between physical play and digital play.
What is your next move?
R.D.: How do we connect those two? Many of our core brands have amazing physical systems of play. Barbie has a whole world of storytelling, Hot Wheels has cars and tracks, Thomas the tank engine has tracks and trains. And each one of our brands has a physical system of play. Today we are concentrating on moving from physical systems to digital systems and one is the connected play. You see more and more connected play from our core brands. But we will never loose sight of the value of traditional play and stimulating imagination in childhood.
Talking of the Spirit of Play. What does Spielwarenmesse stimulate in your eyes?
R.D.: If I walk around Spielwarenmesse I feel the energy of the community – that is exciting. I think the event is all about creativity. We are all trying to appeal to a certain audience. And excite and delight them with products and innovation and interesting new ways of play that we are about to invent. There is this entrepreneurial environment. You feel the ability for people to try new things. So I get energy, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit when I come to Nuremberg.