TOMY’s Nicoleta Becheanu on Traditions and Childhood Treasures

by TOMY | 26 Oct 2023

Biographies and Interviews


What have you been working on at TOMY? 


I’ve been working on some really cool toys that are just now hitting store shelves! There are new games out like Screwball Scramble Level Up and The Game of Saying Huh!?!, and, we just launched A Little Spot of Emotions social-emotional toy line inspired by Diane Alber’s book series that parents and educators alike really love. The new licensed Toomies bath toys and Grow with Peppa preschool toys are also lines I’m excited to see at retail.


I work on a wide range of toys from babies to young adults and honestly, that keeps me from ever being bored and makes my days fun!



You’ve worked closely with best-selling author, Diane Alber, and have become very educated on social-emotional learning? What strikes you as most impactful about Diane's A Little Spot creation?


How simple, yet relatable the Spots are! Kids understand the concept right away and it takes the burden away by saying “I have an anger Spot that is growing” vs. “I am angry”. We encounter various feelings and emotions every day and learning how to identify and manage them in a healthy way is important. All emotions are good and learning about them in a fun way will have a positive impact on the social-emotional well-being of young children as they learn to navigate the complexities of daily interactions.


(Romanian Castle)


You came to the US from Romania. How did you join the industry?


I came to the US over 18 years ago and kind of stumbled into the toy industry. I worked in food gifts, craft & activity, and then collectables. When the TOMY opportunity came along, I had two young kids at home, and it seemed like the perfect alignment and next step for me. Six years later, I still love making new toys and games and seeing happy kids and parents.


(view from castle)


Do you travel back to Romania? What is it like and what do you miss?


Not as often as I would like! Romania is a one of the most beautiful countries in South-Eastern Europe with majestic castles, medieval towns, great hiking and outdoors, welcoming people and tasty food. I miss the vibrant towns, the great outdoors and soccer! I just visited over the summer with my kids and got to see the delight in their eyes as they picked fresh vegetables from the garden and got to taste my mom’s homemade preserves, cookies, and cakes.


You are partnered with the UK team who designs Toomies and TOMY games. How do you know when a product is right to bring to the US?


There are so many wonderful toys coming from our UK team and that makes my job easier. TOMY’s mission is to “make the world smile” and that is reflected in all the toys we bring to market.


When considering bringing a toy in US, I mostly look for innovation, making sure there is a point of different and that we can price it competitively. Timing is also important as it has to make sense with current trends in the market and retailer needs.



Do you have a favorite TOMY product?


The new Lamaze Puffaboo Elephant. Not only it is super cute, but it’s also a simple and delightful toy for little ones. The plush elephant squeaks and puffs air, it is super soft with lots of textures to explore, a great example of TOMY innovation with Lamaze developmental play.



What are you excited about working on right now?


I mentioned The Game of Saying HUH?!, designed by Kazunari Yonemitsu,. The game has sold over 1 million copies in Japan. As a fun social party game, players put their acting skills to the test as they use only their voice and facial expressions to say various phrases or words while the other players try to guess who or what you acted. You can be dramatic, funny, creative, let your personality shine and score points to win the game. We had so much fun playing this game in the office and can’t wait to share it with other gamers and families in US.



Do you have family game time? Have you ever tried connecting the three Screwball Scramble sets for the ultimate challenge?


We play games a lot at our house. My 2 boys (9 and 13) love active games but also enjoy playing board games. Their favorite part is when I bring home a new game prototype to test out and they get to tell me their opinions and sometimes see the evolution of the game.


We have to talk about bath play. Bath time is a great time to bond and play with kids but it's hard to find great bath toys. Tell me about the Toomies bath time toys and how parents have responded?


I love Toomies bath toys! I think playing at bath time is important as it helps young children gain confidence around water. Intended for children 18 months and up, the Toomies toy range encourages exploration and roleplay. We’ve had a great response from parents and are delighted that we can offer these toys to US consumers.



You just came back from seeing customers at NYC Toy Fair and will be attending Toys & Games where you will be playing with consumers? How's that feel?


I am looking forward to the November show in Chicago. We will be featuring the new Game of Saying Huh?! and the Screwball Scramble family of games. It is always great to see kids and families interact with our games and I can’t wait to meet our brand fans in person.



The holidays are approaching. Do you have any traditions in your family?


Christmas is my favorite holiday! One tradition we have is before Christmas, we celebrate Saint Nicholas Day. On the eve of December 5th, we all clean & polish our shoes and set them by the door for Saint Nicolas to bring chocolate, candy, and oranges. This is when we start our countdown to Christmas, purchase the Christmas tree and decorate the house with lights and fun decorations.


As the new year approaches, what is your one wish for families with young children? How about the toy industry?


As more and more companies return to the office, I hope parents can find ways to spend time with their kids, join in the play time, reading time, loud time, and quiet time! For all the experts and toy industry enthusiasts, my wish is that we all continue to bring innovation and smiles to children all over the world.

design romania castles

Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!