Professional Toy Tester Retiring at Age 14: ‘I Can’t Hog the Awesomeness of This Job’


The Toys R Us CPO — that’s chief play officer — is getting ready to retire … at the advanced age of 14.

Alex Thorne, a Canadian teenager, has held the coveted title of chief play officer at the toy company for three years. But when he turns 14 this December (per the rules of the position), he’ll have to pass the torch. As CPO, Alex tests different toys and gives interviews about the features of the retailer’s latest offerings. “My job as chief play officer,” he told CBC News, “is to test toys. Toys R Us sends me toys; it’s my job to play with them and know what’s really awesome about them.”

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Moving on, he said, is bittersweet: “I’m kind of sad that I’m leaving this job. I mean, I can’t keep this job forever. I can’t hog the awesomeness of this job.”

Last week, Alex completed his final toy test, and he’s getting ready to face his next challenge: high school. Juggling work and his personal life has been tricky. “I have to balance my life between, obviously, my job and school,” he said. “I have to talk to all my teachers and know the work that I’m missing, and I have to do it ahead of time.”

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Alex Thorne, 13, will soon be retiring as chief play officer for Toys R Us Canada. (Photo: Youtube/Toys R Us Canada)

Of course, Alex can’t sign off without imparting some wisdom about this season’s holiday offerings. “This year’s hot toy isn’t one specific toy — it is 20 different toys,” he said. “You can’t just say that one toy is the hot toy, because the toys can appeal to different people. There is toddlers, there is younger than toddlers, then there is tweens, then teenagers. There are all sorts of different markets. So you can’t really say that one toy is the single hot toy.” (Spoken like a true salesman!)

Now officials at Toys R Us Canada are sifting through applications for Alex’s replacement, who will start in the new year.

And while high school is surely an exciting endeavor, Alex admits there is one thing he’ll miss most of all. “I’m going to miss getting the free toys.”

(Top photo: CNW Group/Toys R Us (Canada) Ltd)

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