Ryan ToysReview Is This Generation’s Mickey Mouse

With a line of books, magazines, toys, a video game and fast food toy deal, get used to seeing Ryan Kaji’s face everywhere

Chris Stokel-Walker
Published in
6 min readAug 30, 2019


Photo: Nickelodeon

It was when I was browsing the magazine section at the supermarket that I realized just how big Ryan Kaji was.

The success of the pint-sized YouTuber, who unboxes and plays with toys on his channel, Ryan ToysReview, is not breaking news. But his ubiquity is.

The magazine deal was one of the most recent examples of brand deals brokered in his name coming to fruition — but isn’t the last. Not by a long shot.

Ryan has become a brand bigger than his existence. He’s spread over (or his family has control over) seven YouTube channels with a combined 30 million subscribers. He’s starred in his own traditional TV series. He’s front and center in a new Roku channel launched earlier this month.

Ryan has a range of toys. He has endorsed oranges. Ryan also has his own toothbrush and toothpaste line, manufactured by Colgate. He has a video game — his own version of Mario Kart — coming out in November on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC. There are Ryan ToysReview bedsheets and notebooks.

It’s Ryan’s World. We’re just living in it.

“We have about 80 unique licensees,” explains Chris Williams, the chief executive of pocket.watch, the company in charge of handling the Ryan’s World brand on behalf of his family, in a rare interview. “That gives you an example of scale.”

The process is a similar one to any brand licensing, says Williams: “We partner with the best manufacturers and distributors in each category that we deem to be really aligned with the vision for Ryan’s World, and we bring them on board as a licensee in the same way Disney would do with Toy Story or Frozen.”

Data compiled by Kids Insights, who survey thousands of children, shows that Ryan is 1.75x as popular as Disney among children aged 6–8 in the UK.

“What few people understand is that a creator plus product does not make a franchise,” says Ian Shepherd of The Social Store, a UK-based influencer licensing company. “What the team at pocket.watch…



Chris Stokel-Walker
Editor for

UK-based freelancer for The Guardian, The Economist, BuzzFeed News, the BBC and more. Tell me your story, or get me to write for you: stokel@gmail.com