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Rise of #MTGDAD


In my life currently, I live in a house with four dogs and two other humans in a quieter neighborhood of Minneapolis. We like the city’s size as being big enough but not absurdly expensive or one-upmanship on the newest restaurant to try or the worst, rampant crime. It works for my wife and me currently.

At our home, my wife and I were encouraged by family members to allow my sister-in-law to live with us for a period of time. She was struggling with a few classes to graduate, and we were able to help her through anxiety and mental blocks into completing her undergraduate degree. That six- to twelve-month project has now ballooned to three years and climbing. I try to be as non-confrontational as possible, but my application for sainthood status can only be delayed and denied so many times in our current state of affairs.

Being the youngest in my family, I never wanted to be a burden to others, and I tried to be as independent as possible. Not all family members born last feel this, and I respect that. What I’m now struggling with is how having to take care of another person is delaying our marriage and our lives, more specifically, raising future adults instead of current ones with a semi-aggressive dog.

I’d like kids one day—and not in five years.

I think fatherhood would be the coolest thing. You get a thing that finds you pretty great and grows more awesome as it ages. I love that idea. It seems fun. It worked for Karn, right?

Karn, Known to the Phyrexians on Mirrodin as the Father of Machines

This is why I’ve been so intrigued by the #MTGDAD mini-movement on Twitter. This has been around for a few years, back to 2012 perhaps with Evan Erwin (@misterorange). I first heard of this movement from Bruce Richard, who used to write for us here at Gathering Magic and who now has moved onto the Wizards Mothership with a column. As of today, I know these dads on Twitter who jump into using the hashtag every now and then: @mtgcolorpie, @MrScottyMac, @Hackworth, @MTGdad, and @manaburned.

I love hearing what these dads are encountering with interacting with Magic, and frankly, I feel it necessary to bring awareness to their campaign because I hope to join it sooner rather than later. On a self-interested, utterly black level, I want #MTGDAD stuff when I’m in that category. I don’t see the #MTGMOM as much, but I’m sure the Magic player as parent will go from a small idea to a full-blown marketing and branding initiative in a few short years.

As I hope to be in this category soon, I keep seeing baby things and wondering why I don’t see anything Magic. I love seeing baby rhinos, but having a Planeswalker on a onesie is just not there. Below are the nine sectors of Target.com’s baby area. Currently, not a single Magic item is in there. And perhaps the game will never propel into this market, but it easily can.

I often find myself at Target, and when I do, I usually drop a few tweets about it. Currently, this is what we have at Target in the CD and video games areas: utterly nothing.

From a cursory look at Etsy, I found countless children/kid gaming things to note. A quick Google search had me arriving at these things, which are awesome:

image via skreened.comcosgeek.blogspot.com

Were I a new father, I would buy these. Even as an uncle, I would purchase these in an instant if any Magic product existed that even approached this level of creativity. On Etsy, the following two items are the only things I could find for babies. I spent time and found two.

Images via Etsy.com

I just do not think that is good enough. A Hasbro mega-brand has zero baby clothing and only two items on Etsy. Two! I’m not saying the Magic brand needs dilution, but even user-generated items are just unseen. Perhaps the legal team at Wizards is clamping down tighter and eliminating unlicensed items, and I respect protecting the brand. What I’m not seeing are worthwhile efforts brought up that add to the game with little effort by a parent company.

Who Can Help #MTGDAD

Institutional Support

Nantuko Mentor
There lie two major areas of Wizards who can greenlight all sorts of #MTGDAD initiatives. The Brand team with brand managers and community managers represent the protection of the brand and the buildings, growings, and managing of a community. The former is to remove harmful aspects and foster canon with branded initiatives, and the latter supports open communication between development and the community. You’ll notice a plan to “do cool stuff an enable wanted/needed things” is not really included here. To “enable” generally doesn’t sit in a role, but minor initiatives could involve community relations. Wizards doesn’t have a community relations group, only Hasbro’s corporate office has this. It’s generally for donations or volunteer initiatives, but that’s just a standard, not the rule.

Brandvertising is something a community relations department could do with ease. Think of sponsoring a tournament with Red for AIDS or having special baby onesies with SIDS research be a donation part of it. Wizards doesn’t do this because Hasbro doesn't see Wizards as being able to do this yet. Think of a t-shirt in a boys section as a walking brand for Transformers or Chandra or Jace sponsoring things. One company can make massive impact, and that company is Target.

Target, Hasbro, Wizards

Magic is in an odd place at one of America’s largest retailers. While Target boasts more of Magic’s target demographic when players begin, nearly zero emphasis, planning, or effort is there for one of Hasbro’s mega-brands. There is a lot of market research on this—which of course I don’t have—but I’m well aware that the Target ideal guest (guest, never customer) is a married woman with kids. She tends to be well-educated, middle- to upper-middle class, and often married. If you’re a forty-year-old woman, you may have a child in the demographic for Magic, but he or she might not be able to drive him or herself to events yet. There is a high ceiling of consumer buying strength that is literally sitting on the table.

This is where #MTGDAD come into play. The ideal customer isn’t a married father with kids. He won’t be randomly buying a booster pack or a Duel Decks or something to teach his kids to play Magic. This could be because he learned from his older siblings or friends and then went to a hobby store or online to pick up singles and additional products. The line of mass retailers isn’t so much as omitted—it just wasn’t the introduction. It can be though . . . 

I’d like to think yet because if Hasbro doesn’t see a mega-brand, making the company and shareholders millions of dollars, taking efforts to be a lifestyle brand to a greater stage, why would it leave money on the table? Hasbro is an international brand and in big-box retailers, there is Transformers, Monopoly, Play-Doh, My Little Pony, Magic: The Gathering, Nerf, and Littlest Pet Shop.

Every press release you now read includes Magic, whereas it didn’t used to do that. As Wizards is a subsidiary, just like the HUB TV show network, Hasbro doesn’t need to formally recognize them in corporate releases. The fact that it does now shows that it cares of the “lifestyle gamer,” yet zero product exist for a lifestyle other than the game is a strange place to currently sit. I hope this is changing.

Currently, to bring Magic out of the basements, the tight, cramped, and unappealing all-too-common shops, it’s really just retail mindfulness. Honest, it’s really not that hard. I’m not an expert, but I live in a city with an incubator that could really help or bring the brand to visible, fun levels. Target Corporation is in Minneapolis, MN and frankly, everyone here knows a friend, family member, or acquaintance who works there. It’s rather large here, and while it isn’t representative of the entire country, it can do a lot since it already does with Hasbro.

First of all, I would talk to any Wizards employees who used to work at Target’s corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. It has a few ways of doing business that aren’t necessarily standardized across the retail sector. You play by Target’s rules, and they have rules.

After that, a small team could be assembled, and a quick search will identify those to meet for meetings. With Funko and dolls already being available, with Kre-O toys being possible, and with the current assortment of Magic and the propensity of Target exclusives along with a new board game, there’s a series of serious discussions to be had.

This could be a literal a six-month change, and there would be offerings for Magic parents almost overnight. There is a transition space of toys like LEGO, action figures, and the like and teen/mature video games. It’s a small trench, but Magic is one of the few brands that wedges itself into there nicely. Creating a longer tail for acquisition into the brand or transition from one area to another is a logic flow map that could be easily researched. I’d love to see a marketing graduate student at a business school examine that closely.

What We Can Do / What Should I Do

In order for me to become hyper-aware of all things #MTGDAD and out there hustling to make cool stuff happen, I need to become eligible. This means we need an empty house and time. It would be wonderful if finding an apartment in Minnesota and moving in the winter weren’t incredibly laborious and carrying risks of frostbite. Humans work on incentive, and I need a spare family member to find living alone more appealing. Anxiety doesn’t work in our case as something that can be easily confronted and fixed. It’ll take time and planning, which is currently happening.

Until then, I need to promote more community members who make products, and doing so shows a serious need. Alison Deal and Adrienne Reynolds are getting out there and making stuffed animals. Here Stocking Tiger is all kinds of awesome, and I hope more babies get them in 2015.

While an ambitious fellow stated a LEGO Ideas campaign to have Planeswalkers as a set made, it should be noted that Hasbro owns Kre-O, a similar product. I love the hustle, but to have Planeswalkers made is just a matter of time.

The thing is that Dungeons & Dragons products are already being made, but no one is asking for Magic that I can see or hear. And this sort of thing I rarely miss. For cripes sake, they made Drizzt already. Why isn’t Jace made yet? I want my future offspring to be able to choose Jace, Chandra, Ajani, Nicol Bolas, and so on. Hell, I want them for myself now!

Additionally, I think I’ve found the next step in what I need to patronize. I’ve found most artworks I already want. My Unlimited set is nearly finished, and other short-list wants have been covered. What’s up next are making things. Etsy will be my friend in 2015, and up nearly first is trying to find a way to have blankets, sheets, and so forth of Ravnica guilds made on the cheap. I’ve already found vendors who can make them, but I just need them cheaper.

My future kids may not like sports as I did. I had one brother who refused all aspects of athletics. They may not like Magic as I do, but I hope they at least have the option to engage with my favorite card game before they become teens and learn from others. I love options, and hell, I even tried my hand at baseball. I can’t hit a beach ball, but I rarely miss a ball in the air anywhere in center field. If my future children would want to play Pokémon, that’s all right for me, but I want them to be aware of Magic. I figure I can start that now by clearing house and then having things made. Small steps turn into marathons of eighteen years, after all.


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