Paul Dixon knows a lot about having fun. Since 1994, he has been in the toy industry as a Target toy buyer and a salesperson at the Walt Disney Co. (and Hopkins-based Animal Adventure). Lehman Riley is his cousin and he has published a series children’s books with him. their grandfather helping youth learn about history. Dixon believes that adults today have lost the ability to have the same kind of fun as when they were children. So he has been encouraging people — on a TEDx talkA guest spot on a CNN podcast episode about play — to find a version of their favorite childhood toy, play with it, and see what happens. We asked him to tell us how adults can benefit by revisiting toys.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of adults playing with their childhood toys?

A: Five years ago, I was sitting around when the idea struck me. Okay, I’ve been in toy business for a while. So which was my favorite? My electric football set came to my mind. I thought, “What if I bought this toy and actually played with it for 30 day and see what happens?”

Q: What happened?

A: I felt that the personal benefits I received from playing on the ground with the football set for 5-10 minutes for 30 consecutive days was a direct connection to how much I loved that game as a child. It’s a lot like music. Sometimes, a person can hear a song 20-30 years ago and instantly return to the same state of mind. Toys have a similar connection to me.

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Q: Children play with toys like whirling them around pretending that the action figure is alive and that they’re driving the toy car. Adults should play with toys in the same way as children. I consider children to be better at pretending this kind of thing.

A: It’s more flexible. Everybody’s different. You might just sit with the toy and admire it. You may have some amazing memories. For some, it might have no effect. It might not be for some people. For others, it will be the best thing that ever happened to them. When we are children, one of our primary thoughts is, “How can I have even more fun?” Imagine how excited children get when they open a gift at Christmas or birthdays. Do you ever feel that excited about anything as an adult?

Q: Is it possible that we are too busy to have fun?

A: If you look at our lives nowadays, things have gotten a lot more hectic — this was even before COVID — and I don’t believe people spend enough time by themselves, or just reflecting. This amazing effect toys have on children is astounding. Sometimes adults are unable to understand why toys have that effect. Perhaps they’ve forgotten. They were children once upon a time and the toys had that same effect on them. It’s about taking the time to go back to your childhood to see what happens.

Q: Is it more beneficial to play with toys than a videogame or other on-screen activity?

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A: I personally feel that there’s nothing wrong with onscreen — that’s kind of the way we live life nowadays — but I truly believe that there’s something about touching and feeling, that tactile experience.

Q: How did your job help you develop this love for toys and fun?

A: There aren’t many African American males working in the toy/kids’ book industry. It has made me stand out in that industry to a certain extent. I’m a bit out of the norm. It’s a great thing that you can have fun conversations with people. They’ll tell you, “Oh, my goodness, it must have been great.” It has been fun for me. It is possible to take it too seriously, but I can assure you that there are others who do not enjoy it as much as me. You have to keep track of your numbers if you work for a company. It’s been a great experience working in the toy and children’s book industry. There have been times when it was hard, but I’ve always had a lot of fun.

Q: What do you see happening if your idea is popular enough?

A: Yesterday, I was talking to a friend. She suggested that corporations could use my idea for team-building sessions. They could allow people to bring in their favorite toys, and they could say, “We’re going to play with it and we’re going to talk about it.”I hope that someone will take this seriously and gain a better understanding of their passions in life.

Q: So, Do you think this could become a trend?

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A: This suggestion may not be a good fit for this person or that person. Perhaps a few people will be able to agree. “Wow, I never thought of that.”You don’t need everyone to jump in. You can have a small percentage. [group]Changes and shifts in society can be caused by them.

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