Q&A with Andy Keimach Interim President & Chief Executive The Toy Association

by Andy Keimach | 01 Feb 2024

Biographies and Interviews


What is it about the Toy and Game Industry that you love?


Having been a part of the toy and play industry for many years (and wearing many different hats), I can say with certainty that there are 3 key aspects of the business that drive my desire to serve the industry and The Toy Association:


  1. Innovation – it is fundamental to the success of the business. The level of creativity found across our industry is unique, spirited, and endless. At The Toy Association, we strive to support industry innovation through our world-class events, tireless advocacy, and educational resources. We understand that a lack of innovation leads to stagnation. It truly is the lifeblood of the toy industry.
  2. Children - Toys bring kids the opportunity to experience joy and derive all of the benefits associated with play. What is better than being in an industry where success equals bringing laughter, joy, and smiles to kids around the world? It’s even more meaningful when you are bringing toys to children who are sick, living through natural disasters, or otherwise in need, as our industry collectively does through our philanthropic Toy Foundation.
  3. The people – every day I have the opportunity to talk to and work with people who are bright, energetic, creative, and passionate about the industry. Anyone who works in the toy industry will tell you what an eclectic and fun group we are. There is never a dull moment and when we all get together at our tradeshows, the Toy of the Year Awards, and other events, it’s like being reunited with family.


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

Prior to being in the Toy & Game industry itself, I was in the Juvenile Products industry and had the great privilege of helping grow Munchkin, Inc. into an industry leader. Innovation was the driver of everything we did. I was offered a chance to join VTech and lead a wonderful team that developed, marketed, and sold breakthrough electronic toys that delighted children and their parents. I jumped at that opportunity and never looked back.  As my time with VTech wound down, I decided to move back to the West Coast and open my own business – with an eye towards giving back to the industry, to young entrepreneurs, and to my community, all while staying involved in the businesses I love. The opportunity to now provide interim leadership at The Toy Association was just a perfect fit for me.


What are you working on now?


Having been at the helm of The Toy Association for just over a month now, I have been able to touch on many different aspects of the organization and begin work on priority issues that will benefit the entire industry we serve.


I am also engaging in one-on-one conversations with as many industry members as possible, with special care to reach well beyond our current membership, to collect feedback and gain a deeper understanding of the wants and needs of everyone in the industry. The goal in improving outreach to the entire industry is to find improved solutions for how The Toy Association can be of service to all. This includes (but is not limited to) listening to the needs of new and small businesses that will drive future growth through innovation, the inventor community, and specialty toy retailers. In the end, I view The Toy Association as the “Big Tent” for our industry. My concern is that today, many feel like they are on the outside looking in, and I want to change that moving forward.

That said, here is what I am currently working on:


  • The Toy Association just announced plans to host activity in the Los Angeles-area this September. We were asked for an efficient solution to help companies present their long-lead lines during the important preview season on the west coast. Now, companies outside of the LA area will be able to rent space through us and use it for buyer appointments during the entire month of September (though the official Toy Association LA Fall Preview market week will be held September 9-13). This opportunity was created in direct response to feedback from the toy community. We are continuing to listen to feedback as we develop short- and long-term solutions to address the desire for an industry-wide, ongoing presence in LA and while this includes a fall 2024 preview event, we are not limited to that.


  • Registration for our next Toy Fair in New York City (March 1-4, 2025) is underway for returning exhibitors and the response has been great. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I can’t wait to get back together at our industry’s most iconic tradeshow. We will be rolling out announcements about educational opportunities, networking events, and all of that good stuff in the coming months. In the meantime, our next opportunity for the inventor community is taking place this March 4 with our Creative Factor Inventor Day – an exclusive opportunity for creative professionals to pitch their latest ideas to top toy and game manufacturers.


  • Strongly advocating for industry interests at all levels of government (state, federal and international) continues to be a cornerstone of our work. Last year, The Toy Association introduced, lobbied, and received significant support and traction on much-needed member-driven legislation to revise Pennsylvania’s stuffed toy manufacturing law (an outdated law from 1961 banning the use of recycled materials in stuffed toys sold in the state). Progress on this issue will continue into 2024 and will ultimately have a positive impact on manufacturing and retail across the U.S. and in some cases internationally.


Our advocacy also includes work to secure amendment language that exempts toys and removes harmful provisions from overlapping and conflicting state laws, as well as efforts on section 301 tariffs, intellectual property (IP) protection, chemical substance reporting, environmental marketing guidance, alignment of international toy safety standards, and much more.


  • Our Toy Foundation is an important philanthropic entity for the entire toy industry, bringing millions of dollars in toys to children in need around the world. This work would not be possible without the generosity of individual toy companies who continue to donate product and funds to benefit this important cause, while in many cases also committing to their own impressive philanthropic programs and causes. We want to celebrate what the industry is doing to bring the tools of play to children who are sick, suffering, or otherwise in need, and enhance the ability of The Toy Foundation to achieve its mission to be the uniting force for the collective philanthropy of our industry.

  • Finally, as part of the search committee for the next Toy Association President & CEO, I view my role as helping to identify the best candidate possible and then providing a strong transition, enabling our new leader and the association to achieve great success.


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


We are lucky to be in an industry that continually creates, innovates, and carves out new play patterns and products to delight all ages. It’s also an industry that knows how to breathe new life into tried-and-true and nostalgic toys and brands. So what we are seeing is two-fold: brand-new innovations and classics reinvented for the current generation of children. Each is highly appealing to parents and kidults, especially as play becomes more “mainstream” across all ages – a trend that we saw developing a few years ago that continues to grow, as even older adults are finding ways to play to keep their minds and bodies active. Of course, AI is a major topic right now, and offers exciting opportunities for toys and all consumer products.  Nonetheless, this is a technology we are watching closely at The Toy Association and we are advising toy companies on the appropriate steps they need to take to ensure children’s privacy and safety.


In terms of specific trends coming down the pipeline, I encourage everyone to tune into The Toy Association’s 2024 Toy Trends Briefing (a virtual presentation open to all on Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. (Eastern)). Our toy trend experts will set the stage for the year with an overview of toy business and consumer insights before diving into the top trends of 2024, including the sharp rise of anime in the toy space, the popularity of eerie, mystical, and enchanting toys, why “holistic” toys are huge, and explore the impact of social media, fashion, world events, etc. on toys.


How do you define innovation?

True innovation drives delight for the consumer. It creates a product’s reason for being and gives consumers a compelling reason to purchase. It is true newness – a new play pattern, a new technology that stands alone or that can make a classic toy new again.


In closing, can you answer some rapid-fire personal questions:


-What was your favorite toy growing up?
I had a few favorite toys. In no particular order:  Creepy Crawlers, Matchbox vehicles and of course Slinky.  If I had to pick one, it would probably be my Matchbox collection. I had 200+ vehicles and many of the associated play sets. I used them indoors and outside. Hours of fun and creativity.

-How do you define success … and how do you achieve it?
It is only recently that I have arrived at the answer to this question.  I define success by finding the joy and sense of accomplishment in what you do. If you like what you do and what you do brings you a sense of joy, there is a multiplier effect that drives success, accomplishment, and then it starts again.  If you find yourself consistently unhappy with where you are and what you do, success will be impossible to find.


-What/who inspires you?
I have the opportunity to meet and work with inventors and entrepreneurs in the consumer products space. Most of these creative, courageous people are half my age! I am inspired by their intelligence, energy and creativity.

-What excites you?
Personally, I get both excitement and enjoyment traveling with my wife and spending more time with my adult children.  Professionally, I am completely renewed since starting my own consulting practice, Eights Consulting Group. I am fortunate enough to already have a full plate of diverse clients that can benefit from the learning I have gathered from over 40 years in the consumer products business.


Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!