Source: The Toy Coach/The Toy Book

Calling all budding toy creators!

The Toy Coach Azhelle Wade entered into a partnership agreement with Richard Derr and Learning Express Toys of Lake Zurich, Illinois to launch a scholarship program. Ten aspiring toy creators that come from a place of financial hardship will be granted full admission to the Toy Creators Academy, a comprehensive toy business program that teaches students how to fully develop toy and game ideas and how to pitch their creations to retail buyers and toy companies.

Over the past year, more than 50 students have trained at the Toy Creators Academy and have developed and pitched ideas to distributors, production studios, and toy companies resulting in distribution partnerships and licensing opportunities.

Wade, a toy designer with hundreds of credits on products created for Toys “R” Us, Party City, and Madame Alexander, calls upon all aspiring creators to jump into the business and “make it toyetic!” In addition to the Toy Creators Academy, Wade hosts the Making It In The Toy Industry podcast.

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“The toy industry needs this,” says Richard Derr, owner of Learning Express Toys of Lake Zurich.” We need fresh ideas [and] If we get one idea out of this, it’s worth it.”

For the past 25 years, Derr has built a legendary business that has become an incubator for new toy ideas. Hit products at Learning Express often expand to mass retail.

Eligible applicants must be over 18 years old, show financial hardship, not be current or former students of Toy Creators Academy, and may not be full-time employees of any toy manufacturing company. Applicants must agree to conditions in the scholarship application. For more details and to apply, visit Applications will be accepted until Friday, September 17, 2021, at 11:59 pm EST. Full tuition to the Toy Creators Academy is valued at $1,297.

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.