TDmonthly Magazine!
September 2008 | Vol. VII - No. 9


Imaginatives’ Elf Inspires New Holiday Traditions

Christopher Pop-In-Kins Is All About Family

“Finding the right people first is critical. Once you have that select team, the money will follow.” Rick Johnson, CEO
Discovering a holiday tradition that draws its heritage from love and family is uncommon these days. But thousands have done just that with Imaginatives’ delightful elf, Christopher Pop-In-Kins.

A Mother’s Love

The poseable elf and accompanying beautifully illustrated storybook were born of author Flora Johnson’s love for her five children 23 years ago, TDmonthly Magazine learned. In the story, Santa grants an elf’s wish to visit real children, allowing him to arrive in a child’s home just after Thanksgiving and stay until just before Christmas Eve.

Creating a unique story featuring a special game of hide and seek, Flora sought to introduce a daily surprise, encouraging parents and children to build heart-warming holiday memories.

“A child’s love for reading grows when the words on the page come to life through experiences shared as a family,” wrote Brent Sitton, founder of, in an article on

“Christopher is a really big tradition,” specialty retailer Christine Lee of Treehouse Toys in North Canton, Ohio, shared with TDmonthly. “New customers just love the idea. I feel it’s because they really like the idea of having a new family tradition that brings fun and excitement to the holidays.”

A Son’s Love Overcomes Obstacles

CEO Rick Johnson grew up with his mother’s creation, becoming involved with Imaginatives in 2002. But managing a company was a challenge. “When I started working on this, the main obstacle I faced was lack of experience,” he told TDmonthly. “I had a ton of enthusiasm, and thankfully that kept me learning and moving forward.”

In 2003, Rick became his parents’ caretaker until their passing in 2005. “I felt an enormous sense of responsibility to work to achieve their dream for all children to know and love Christopher Pop-In-Kins.”

Early in 2006, Rick gathered a talented team that was just as determined to achieve the dream. Brian Bradway, VP of Creative Services, was tasked with illustrating the new storybook. Although thrilled, he admitted to being “pretty dang scared. Christopher Pop-In-Kins had become a holiday tradition for families across our country before I came on the scene, and it was very important that I didn’t mess this up.”

Given that today’s children are weaned on computer graphics, Brian created 3D illustrations to “make sure that the art the children would see in the book would look just like the Christopher doll they found hiding in their home during the holiday season.”

New Horizons to Explore

Rick shared some valuable lessons he’s learned. “Never give up because you never know when success will come. Build a team based not on money, but on talent and integrity. Looking for money first is dangerous because it tends to lead you to a false sense of security,” he said. “Finding the right people first is critical. Once you have that select team, the money will follow.”

Like its little elf, Imaginatives has new places to explore. That includes branching out to include educational toys and games, Rick said, adding that he wants Imaginatives known as a company that offers safe and wholesome products.

“We want everyone to feel confident that they will always get the best quality and integrity from our company,” Rick told TDmonthly.

See Imaginatives’ elf of a dream below:

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MSRP: $24.95
Age Range: 3 and up
Specialty: Yes (as of 2011)
Made in: China
SKU or Item #: 856235000014
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Gifts

From late November to Christmas Eve, Christopher Pop-In-Kins “pops in” to visit children, play hide-and-seek, and share in the excitement of the holiday season. On Christmas Eve, he returns to the North Pole to tell Santa all about his young friends and holiday adventures. Each Christopher Pop-In-Kins Fun Set includes a posable Christopher Pop-In-Kins Elf, “Christopher Pop-In-Kins Pops In” by Flora Johnson ©1985 illustrated storybook, and a convenient storage case. Now in his 27th year, Christopher Pop-In-Kins was recently named one of Dr. Toys Best Classic Toys for 2011.
Awards: 2011 Moms' Best Award for Extraordinary Products; 2011 The Toy Man Award of Excellence; 2011 The Toy Man E-Choice Award; 2011 The Toy Man Seal of Approval; 2010 Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Excellence in Family Products; 2010 The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval; 2009 Preferred Choice Award from Creative Child Magazine; 2008 iParenting Media Outstanding Products Award; 2008 iParenting Media Hot Product Award; 2008 Dr. Toy Best New Products Award; 2004 Choice Award from the Chicago Home & Gift Market
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 18555      (added 4/25/2008)

Claudia NewcornWriter's Bio: Claudia Newcorn has been a freelance writer and editor for over 10 years, after having spent more than a decade in marketing and product management. She writes for both businesses and individual clients, crafting copy, content and advertising. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines and specialty publications nationwide ( She is also the author of an award-winning fantasy fiction book, "Crossover," and several published short stories ( Read more articles by this author


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