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Toys R Us names 12-year-old new ‘chief play officer’

Toys R Us recently chose Emile Burbidge for the position of “chief play officer,” a job that kids across Canada applied for with the help of their parents or guardians.

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In a statement, Toys R Us explained Burbidge’s new role: “Emile will spend a fun-filled year playing with and becoming the expert on the hottest new toys, games and gadgets from Toys R Us and providing his recommendations to parents and gift-givers,” the company wrote. His bilingualism will come in handy too, as he’ll be taking part “in English and French media appearances and attend events across the country on behalf of the company.”

“I feel like the luckiest kid in the country and still can’t believe I was chosen as Toys R Us, Canada’s newest chief play officer,” said Emile Burbidge in the statement. “I was so excited when I found out I got the job and couldn’t wait to get started.”

While at first you could assume this job is all fun and games, looking at everything his predecessor, Alex Thorne, did promoting toys and making media appearances, it’s clear that your average 12-year-old is probably not cut out for this position.

First of all, when you watch Thorne give media interviews, he comes across more as a rehearsed Don Draper than your typical LEGO-obsessed kid. Few adults could pull off what Thorne does in this media interview with The City, where he coolly talks in marketing-savvy lingo about “the hottest spring toys,” speaking like a rehearsed PR exec about all the “categories” of toys, while making sure to point out which toys are “exclusive to Toys R Us.” He paces himself like a seasoned media pro while making safe, politician-style jokes with the on-air anchor.

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Sound like your 12-year-old or any kid you know? Probably not. And I’m pretty impressed by how good this kid is at rattling out the lengthy names of each toy, like “The Go Go Smart Friends Busy Sounds Discovery Home” and “Doc McStuffins Get Better Talking Mobile.” Watch how well he does in this video for Cineplex’s pre-show. Seriously, why are toy product names so long these days?

Gauging by the sheer number of YouTube videos of Thorne that were uploaded between August 2013 and last December, it’s clear Burbidge is going to have to hustle for his toys. And aside from free toys, what compensation does a chief play officer get? Toys R Us doesn’t disclose this number.

If your child is interested in performing on camera like these chief play officers are, then there’s a lot to consider. First of all, is your child cut out for long hours? According to the National Commercial Agreement, children under 15 are allowed to work eight-hour days if they get an hour for lunch — which basically means these kids are working hours as long as government bureaucrats’. Children between 12 and 15 can even work longer sometimes under special circumstances. On-camera kids also have to juggle schoolwork with long hours, and it’s the parents’ responsibility to make sure this happens.

So if your kid is bumming about not having a job as cool as Emile Burbidge has, consider that he or she might be lucky to get to relax and just enjoy being a kid.

And Emile, we wish you the best of luck and can’t wait to see what picks you have for us (especially us adults who still secretly covet your toys!).

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