Ata-Boy co-owner, Jude Albright, on partnering with Asmodee Entertainment to create CATAN merchandise

Jude Albright, Director of Licensing at Ata-Boy, discusses creating CATAN keychains, magnets and more.

Thanks for joining us, Jude. You’re Director of Licensing at Ata-Boy. How long have you been working there?
I’ve been at Ata-Boy for about 32 years. I’m one of the owners.

32 years! Wow. Okay… Let’s start at the beginning then! How did Ata-Boy come about?
Ata-Boy was started out of the trunk of a car and a garage by Randy Slater. He started with just 2×3 magnets that he would hand-deliver to stores in Hollywood.

These would be the kind of magnets one might put on the refrigerator?
Exactly! Meanwhile, I worked at a comic book store called Golden Apple and he’d bring some of them there.

Golden Apple Comic Store? That’s quite a famous comic shop, is it not? In Los Angeles?
Right! You know it?

Jude Albright, Ata-Boy, Asmodee Entertainment
I know OF it! A reputation for great guests; great signings…

That’s it. As well as comic books, they sell toys, statues, figures, trading cards… Well, anyway, Randy and I became friends, and he always told me that one day he’d steal me away because he said he could tell I was a hard worker. Eventually, that happened. When I started, I began moving the company toward licensed products.

What’s the guiding philosophy? What’s Ata-Boy all about?
To make the world more fun!

Simple as that! What kind of products do you create?
As well as the magnets, we make buttons, stickers, patches, enamel pins, keychains, lanyards and metal signs.

Jude Albright, Ata-Boy, Asmodee Entertainment
That really is the essence of fandom, in my opinion… The the sort of knickknack that says, “I’m a fan of this”, and implies the question, “Are you?” In terms of licenses, then, you have a range of CATAN merchandise, Jude. How did that come about?

I’m a player for one thing, but we’d already begun moving into tabletop gaming with Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.

Did you find a decent market for those?
Oh, yes… We had great success with those licenses. So much so that we wanted to expand. Since CATAN is such an iconic brand in the gaming world, we felt it would be a perfect fit.

And in your experience, how easy is it to translate that brand to physical products?
I think it was easy considering I play the game!

Yes – I guess that does give you an advantage. What mindset do you have to tap into to create products that appeal in this kind of niche?
We try and figure out what would appeal most to the fans and make them laugh and be happy and want to wear or use the product.

Jude Albright, Ata-Boy, Asmodee Entertainment
And what is it about CATAN, do you think, that means it’s so hugely popular as a game?

It’s a fairly simple game to play and it’s very fun. It’s also pretty competitive, but you need to rely on the other players. That can lead to fun encounters!

What’s the one question I should’ve asked you today but didn’t?
Do I like what I do?

What’s the answer?
I love it! Being able to translate the fandoms I love into products myself and other fans would love to own and use is a total joy for me!

That’s a terrific answer, very affirming to hear. Great to hear a little of your passion too; thanks for joining us Jude.

Jude Albright, Ata-Boy, Asmodee Entertainment

Stay up to date with the latest news, interviews and opinions with our weekly newsletter

Sign Up

Enter your details to receive Brands Untapped updates & news.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.