Toys ‘R’ Us Chief Play Officer retiring at age 13

Posted at 5:03 PM, Nov 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-13 17:03:52-05

Retirement isn’t usually part of a growing child’s life, but Alex Thorne’s life is far from ordinary.

Come December 31, Alex will not only be celebrating his 14th birthday, he’s stepping down from his position as chief play officer for Toys “R” Us Canada.

Alex, of Pickering, Ontario, became the fourth kid to take the job of CPO after winning a competition in 2013 organized by the Canadian division of the toy company.

During his tenure, Alex has played with “hundreds and hundreds” of toys, deciding what’s hot and what’s not in toys targeting all age groups and genders.

“There are some toys I test that are really for toddlers so, personally, they don’t appeal to me. But I can definitely see how I would like them if I was younger,” he said.

His primary role is to help promote the benefits of play and imagination and provide the inside scoop, according to Tamar Nersesian, a Toys “R” Us communications manager.

Once played with and reviewed, the toys are his to keep. “I keep a few toys that appeal to me, and the rest I give away to people I know, my old day care or charities.”

Alex’s favorite toy? LEGO Dimensions.

The only boy in Canada who might be luckier is Alex’s younger brother, Carter, who “gets the benefits of playing with all the toys but doesn’t have to do the work.”

Alex’s CPO position is paid, but the company won’t disclose his full compensation package, which clearly includes toys.

Now that he’s in high school, Alex and Toys “R” Us have mutually decided that it’s time for him to pass the torch.

The company has narrowed its search for his successor to 15 children. Although there is a chief toy tester position offered in Australia, the Toys “R” Us CPO position is unique to Canada.

Nersesian said the company is looking at candidates between the ages of 11 and 13 who are outgoing, vibrant, enthusiastic and comfortable in front of the camera.

Finalists are interviewing and auditioning live in front of a panel of judges, including Alex himself.

His biggest piece of advice to the next CPO: Travel whenever possible, and “make the most out of it and have fun because it is toys.”

While it’s difficult to imagine anything better than playing with toys, Alex said it’s the travel involved with being CPO that he loves the most.

After retiring, he plans to finish his first year in high school and explore his acting career. Most recently, he has done voiceover work on Nickelodeon’s “PAW Patrol” as well as Disney Junior’s “PJ Masks.”

Without the workload from Toys “R” Us, he’s hoping to do more onscreen acting and wants to work toward becoming a host for television news.

The next CPO for Toys “R” Us Canada is expected to be announced in January.