by Alan Dorfman | 22 Jul 2022
Biographies and Interviews
Hi Alan! Thank you for taking time to answer a few questions for our readers! What are your roles and responsibilities in our industry?
I like to think that my role is to develop and manufacture product that meets consumer expectation. As a producer of licensed product, we need to deliver product that provides what the end user expects from that brand. Within those parameters, we at Super Impulse are responsible to our licensors as we represent the valuable brand equity that they have built, to our retail customers to give them product that performs, and to everyone to provide high quality, safe toys.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
Functional miniatures. I did it at my former company, Basic Fun, in keychain format, and at our current company, Super Impulse, as World’s Smallest. To this day, whenever you see a keychian hanging on a back pack, it is a direct result of the trend we started at Basic Fun.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Hanging on in the toy biz for my entire career.
What was your biggest failure?
Are you kidding? Too many to count – we’re in the toy business. We have more misses than hits.
Do you have a mantra that you live by?
Of course: Toy business – Every day is FUN!
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
I didn’t like law school.
What are you working on now?
What has kept you motivated to stay in the toy industry?
I don’t know how to play golf.
If you look back at yourself 10 years ago is this where you thought you’d be? Where did you think you’d be? What changed? What went right?
Actually, it was just about 10 years ago that I finished my time at Basic Fun. I had sold the company and was at the end of a three-year employment contract. I really expected to be done, be semi-retired, and see where life took me. I had zero expectation that I would land right back into what would morph into a continuation of working with the best licensing partners to make miniatures of their flagship brands.
What is your favorite project to date?
Good question. Pokemon, in my former company. We were the second toy company in North America to sign on, after Hasbro, and at one point I was questioning my sanity for taking on what was then an obscure property for the U.S. market with a high financial commitment. We were able to make the right product at the right time, and held the license for over 10 years. And in my current company, we are enjoying a great run with Wacky Package Minis. I loved Wacky Packages stickers as a kid, so the opportunity to bring them to 3D, and have them work as a collectible, has been great.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
There is a current trend of collectibles miniatures that perfectly fits our wheelhouse. We like to think we were part of launching that trend – very exciting! I’m worried that it will end before I do.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Do your homework. Know what we do so you can show us concepts that complement our strengths.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
My advice is targeted at high school grads and those that haven’t finished college yet: Stay in school as long as you can, and don’t obsess about grades. Once you start working, you’ll be working for most of your life. And as an employer, I don’t really care about what grade got in Art History.
What advice do you have for people starting in the industry?
Let your career evolve. None us finish on the path we started on.
What’s your workspace setup like?
Pretty cool. Our offices are in a building built in the 1800s with exposed stone walls, vaulted wood ceilings, real hardwood floors, and huge wooden beams.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I ever had was at a toy company that turned into the most valuable learning experience of my life. It eventually resulted in an opportunity that lead to the creation of a new category of toys.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
What excites you?
I’m kind of even keeled unless something gets me angry. Then I get excited but in a negative way. Stupid drivers really fry me.
How do you define creativity?
Originality that can be shared and appreciated.
How do you define innovation?
Being different and being able to build on that difference.
Where do you come up with your best ideas?
Sometimes out of the blue, sometimes when collaborating with my friend and Head of Creative, Daniel, sometimes being inspired by a brand or brand presentation. Once I thought of a great product during a Grateful Dead concert.
What blocks your creativity?
Closed minded licensors who value $$$ over concept.
How do you recharge or take a break?
Nothing out of the ordinary. Veg in front of a ball game, nap on the sofa. Friday night charcuterie and cocktails. Travel with my wife and friends and family.
What words describe how you think or how your brain works?
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Silly Putty, Etch-A-Sketch and Tinkertoys.
Where were you born?
In the back seat of Greyhound bus, rolling down Highway 41.
What was your life like growing up?
I liked to invent things inspired by Wile E. Coyote.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
Philadelphia. To this day, wherever I am in the world, I don’t miss an Eagles game.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I make the same mistake all the time, and I can’t seem to learn from it, even though I know the lesson. All your profit is in that last container.
What do you read every day, and why?
Emails. Because they expect replies.
Who is the person you most admire?
Al Davis, one of the owners of Larami (Super Soaker), and Keith Richards.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
My cell phone. Emails, websites, dinner reservations, music, video, flashlight, compass, and sometimes (non-spam) phone calls.
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I was on a long plane trip a few days ago, and of all the entertainment options, I watched Pulp Fiction again. Some of the dialogue is hilarious.
What are your favorite childhood memories?
When I was six, my uncle (who was 11) took me to see the Batman movie (Adam West). I was so excited I ran right past the ticker taker. He yelled at me.
Are you named after anyone?
Do you have a nickname?
I’m sure a lot of people have nicknames for me.
Do you have any kiddos?
Do you have any pets?
Lifetime list of pet names: Ringo, Reggie, Teak, Max, Astro, Little Kiddle, Butters, and Noodle.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
The Rolling Stones.
What’s in your fridge?
My wife and I are empty nesters, so not much in the fridge. I have vodka in the freezer.
Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?
I play the ipod.
Who are your favorite musicians, singers or musical groups?
Previously listed under “guilty pleasures”.
What’s your favorite cereal?
What’s the first thing you usually notice about people?
I see similarities in people to celebrities and/or cartoon characters.
What is the last time you did something for the first time?
I took a trip to Austria recently. Never been there before.
What are your favorite books?
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is right up there. Catch 22. Loved The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series when I was teen. I enjoyed The Millennium series. I Am Pilgrim.
What are your favorite websites?
Do you prefer scary movies or happy endings?
Are they even in the same category??
What are your favorite sports and sports teams?
I’m a Philly sports guy – Eagles, Phillies, Sixers. I don’t really follow the Flyers, except the playoffs, which means I don’t follow the Flyers.
What is your favorite night out?
Dinner and drinks with friends. Doesn't matter where.
Favorite movie of all time?
The Graduate, Children of Men and The Big Lebowski.
Do you have any special talents?
I’m hard to like.
What’s your beverage of choice?
Chilled vodka martini.
Tell us about your hobbies?
Chilled vodka martini.
Summer of Winter?
Hugs or Kisses?
What is your eye color?
Varies. Grayish, I guess. Sometimes a bit bluer. Kind of hard to define.
Everything would have been different if…
That a-hole that was our last president didn’t open the door for all of the other a-holes to try to ruin this country.
The toy and game industry clearly has….
The best and worse people I’ve ever known.
I’m lucky that….
They don’t know which ones I’m referring to.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Satisfied that I made a mark.
Cheers, Alan! Thank you for taking time to answer our questions!
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