Teen lands job as testing officer for Toys ‘R’ Us

Daniel M.P. Wilson is not your typical corporate executive. He has the charm, work ethic and firm handshake. He even likes golf.

Daniel Wilson

TORONTO — Daniel M.P. Wilson is not your typical corporate executive. He has the charm, work ethic and firm handshake. He even likes golf.

But he also has tons of math homework and braces on his teeth.

The 13-year-old recently landed a dream job: “chief play officer” for Toys “R” Us Canada. The brown-eyed budding actor from Uxbridge, northeast of Toronto, gets to play for a living — at least when he’s not at school, on the hockey rink, singing at the piano or acting in community theatre.

Daniel is one of two appointments made in Canada to mark the toy chain’s 25th anniversary here. He has the title for English Canada while 13-year-old Laurie-Kim Gosselin of Mastouche, Que., has the job in French Canada.

Here’s a profile of the new recruit as he undertakes his one-year term.

Mission: To give his grown-up colleagues The Kid Perspective and help parents wade through the toy jungle. “I’m the person who lets the adults know what the hot toys are this season.”

Priorities: Talking up toys with kids and adult shoppers; announcing top picks for the holidays.

How: On Facebook and his blog. How else do teens communicate? But he’s also an adolescent boy who talks in full sentences. Stay tuned for personal appearances.

How he landed the job: Responded to a call for 13-year-olds that went out to performing arts agencies. (That’s the legal age for using Facebook.) Beat out 100 other applicants thanks to his energy, personality and creativity with toys.

Experience: Thirteen years of toy training and playing with three brothers.

Employment history: “I babysat my little brother over the summer.”

Chief adviser: His eight-year-old brother Jonathan.

Workspace: Family room with comfy couches, chocolate-coloured walls and a picture window overlooking a sprawling backyard.

Workday attire: Plaid shirt over a white T-shirt and jeans.

Hours: The Grade 9 student gets up at 5:30 a.m. for a power breakfast of waffles and syrup to catch the long ride on public transit to his Oshawa school. Hits the sack by 9 p.m. on weekdays.

Favourite toys: Diplomats don’t name names. But Lego and Spider-Man rank right up there.

Least favourite: “I haven’t encountered a toy I don’t like.” Crafts are good. He won’t even diss Barbie (he’s played with girl cousins).

Preferred Teletubby: Po (the red one).

Earliest toy memories: Wooden dinosaur puzzle; building with Duplo. At age six, he asked for an Easy Bake Oven “and I thought it was the coolest thing.”

Remuneration: Undisclosed salary. “I’m not really allowed to discuss the terms of my contract.”

Bonus: Extremely low risk of boredom.

Best part of the job: Do you really have to ask?

Best perk: When asked to do the dishes, he can head for the toys, saying, “Sorry, Mom, I have work to do.”

Worst part of the job: “Probably giving back the toys.”

Inside scoop on the new hire: “It’s taking our brand positioning one step further,” says company vice-president Liz MacDonald. Appointing play officers reinforces “we’re all about kids.”

Outside scoop: “It’s a gimmick,” says New York toy industry analyst Christopher Byrne. “I think it’s for the cute factor.”

The last word: “My feet really haven’t touched the ground since I got this job,” says Daniel.

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