Tonies’ Drew Vernon | Source: The Toy Book

It was just under a year ago that Tonies launched in the U.S. Now, the little screen-free audio player and its growing library of add-ons continues to build market share as families connect through storytelling. Following recent news regarding new partnerships, additional licensed content, and retail expansion across physical and digital platforms, the company has quickly expanded. The Toy Book caught up with Drew Vernon, marketing director of Tonies USA, for an update on how the international hit looks ahead of its second year in the States.

The Toy Book: With Tonies approaching one year at retail in the U.S., what are some of the biggest wins and challenges you’ve experienced?
Drew Vernon: We’ve worked really hard to set up our presence in FAO Schwarz, Camp, and hundreds of independent toy retailers. Seeing how our brand can come to life in physical spaces has been really rewarding. The biggest challenge has been trying to make our first brand impression in the midst of the pandemic where newness hasn’t been weighing as large on buyers’ minds.

TB: Why are screen-free experiences so critical for kids and families right now?
DV: Screentime for kids is through the roof. We believe that parents are itching for more screen-free options when it comes to entertaining and educating their children.

Tonies x GoNoodle | Source: Tonies USA

Related: Drew Vernon Talks Tonies on the ‘Power Kid Podcast’

TB: Your recent collaboration with GoNoodle brings a new educational element to the Tonies platform. Can you tell us a bit about the collaboration?
DV: GoNoodle has long been known as a fun and engaging brand offering a variety of children’s content. We’re able to serve as an extension of their brand to deliver mindfulness content in a screen-free way.

TB: Early education is a hot topic in the U.S. How has Tonies been exploring acceleration in that space?
DV: We’re diving into early education and have created “Tonies for teachers,” which is a program showing how educators can use Tonies in classrooms, libraries, and museums. We’re pursuing a number of collaborations in this space and are excited to share more news soon!

TB: In recent months, Tonies has added new characters and new accessories, including headphones. What is the future outlook for growing the system as kids age up?
DV: The trouble is that we have so many ideas we have trouble choosing which to prioritize. We will start by offering age-relevant fiction and non-fiction content for our growing Toniebox fans.

Keep up with the latest on Tonies at

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.