In Amazon Freevee’s original series Play-Doh Squished, three teams of adults and kids go toe-to-toe in challenges designed to test their artistry, speed, and skill. One team becomes Play-Doh champs, and the others have their creations “squished.” Hosted by actor Sarah Hyland (known for her role as Haley Dunphy on ABC’s Modern Family), the show also features resident Play-Doh expert Jason Loik.
We caught up with Loik to learn more about his cool job, the key to creativity, and why he believes Play-Doh compound is not just a toy, but a conversation starter between parent and child.
You have a unique title on ‘Play-Doh Squished’ as resident Play-Doh expert. Can you explain?
I am a real-life Play-Doh expert! The bulk of my training is as a sculptor: hand skills and problem solving. My role on the show is to advise the contestants in all matters Play-Doh compound, as well as to make creations for the show.
What was your path to becoming a Play-Doh expert?
I had visions of being a fine art sculptor, but realized I didn’t fit into that world. I started working with the Play-Doh brand to sculpt all kinds of prototypes. They asked if I could create a few things out of Play-Doh compound for an important meeting. My work impressed them. Soon, I was building creations for TV commercials, packaging, and printed advertisements. I kept pushing the boundaries with bigger, more intricate, and more realistic pieces. I quickly gained a reputation in the company as “The Play-Doh Sculptor.”
Have you been surprised by the level of creativity and skill that contestants bring to the show?
Yes, I’ve been working with the Play-Doh brand professionally for nearly a decade, and I’ve discovered a myriad of tricks and techniques. However, through the show, I am seeing new ways of working and very creative “out of the can” thinking.
What is your favorite part about working with Play-Doh compound as a medium?
Play-Doh compound can take on any shape. The only limits are my imagination. Plus, it’s iconic; everyone knows what it’s like to sink your hands into a big ball of colorful joy.
What would surprise people about Play-Doh toys?
Its origin. Play-Doh compound was actually originally “Kutol Wallpaper Cleaner.” Beginning in 1933, it was used to remove the soot that accumulated on walls from gas lamps. Over time, the need for the product dwindled. In 1955, Joseph McVicker, the inventor’s son, was looking for a new use for it. His sister-in-law was a teacher. She shared the product with her students to play with. They discovered it was a far superior material than modeling clay for children. And that’s how Play-Doh compound was born.
What is the most fun aspect of being part of the show?
I’m in a position where I don’t have to choose favorites. I get to work with incredibly talented people on fantastical ideas—and love everybody equally.
You have two kids yourself. What does your family think of your cool job?
They love it! I’m so flattered by how into the show my kids are. It’s a great show, and they are at the perfect ages to enjoy it. But beyond that, they love “Daddy’s show” because it’s Daddy’s show. They are my biggest promoters.
Why is Play-Doh compound a good way to connect kids and adults?
Every Play-Doh can is filled with a simple malleable compound. You provide the magic. It’s a blank canvas without guard rails or rules. It’s not really a toy, it’s a conversation starter between parent and child. It’s not a sculpting material, it’s a kid's first tangible education on manipulating reality. It’s not an object, it’s a shared experience.
Play-Doh compound is the simple conduit that helps build long-lasting connections, both in the mind and in the family. Sometimes, simple can be quite profound.
Any advice to share for people who want to be more creative but don’t know where to start?
Yes, just start! Start right now. What are you waiting for? Don’t waste time trying to get it right. Getting it wrong and adjusting is the whole creative process. Be kind to yourself, and enjoy the exploration.
How to watch ‘Play-Doh Squished’ on Freevee
‘Play-Doh Squished’ is available on Amazon Freevee. You can access Freevee as an app on Fire TV, Fire Tablets, and within the Prime Video app. It’s also available as an app on third-party devices including iOS and Android mobile devices, Xbox, Playstation 5, and many smart TVs. Freevee is currently available in the U.S., the UK, and Germany.