Last Friday night was the annual TAGIE awards which honor the inventor side of the toy and game community whereas the Toy of the Year Awards (aka the TOTY Awards) held in February honors successful products and brands. BIG DIFFERENCE Always held in Chicago in conjunction with the Toy and Game Inventors Expo and the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, the TAGIEs were at the Museum of Science and Industry on Chicago’s south side. It was amazing. The “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” exhibit is there right now so it make the location selection extremely fitting.
I also managed to end up at a table full of great people which always makes these events more interesting. At my table: Peggy Brown (2009 Game Inventor of the Year Winner), Richard Gottlieb (Global Toy News), Christopher Bensch (Curator at The Strong Museum), Nic Ricketts (Curator at The Strong Museum), Richard Gill (Inventor of Pictionary), Catherine McMillen-Gill (Top Trumps), Gina Minola (Playology), Tracy Dudkiewicz and her husband (TAP Marketing). The evening was hosted by the ever-so-funny Tim Walsh whose movie Toyland I’ve mentioned before, and the keynote was given my Mike Hirtle of Hasbro.
But enough about that, let’s talk about the winners!
Excellence in Toy Design
Nominees: Paul Rago & David Small, David Fuhrer
Winner: Robert Croak (Inventor of Sillybandz)
*Presented by Russell Hornsby, 2009 winner
Nominees: Donald X. Vaccarino, Joe Wetherell
Winner: Mary Jo Reutter (Laundry Jumble and many other games)
*Presented by Peggy Brown, 2009 winner
**In pic at right, from L to R: Mary Jo Reutter, Mike Gray of Hasbro, Riley Wilkinson of Educational Insights, Peggy Brown, and Lisa Guili of Educational Insights
Rising Star Inventor
Nominees: Joe & Dave Herbert, Daryl Hannah & Hilary Shepard
Winner: Dominic Crapuchettes (Wits & Wagers and other games)
*Presented by Jack Degnan, 2009 winner
Nominees: Scottie Ballantyne, Ali Ryan
Winner: Kate Daniels
*Presented by Seth Calvin, 2009 winner and John Ratzenberger (of Cheers and Toy Story fame -he’s the pig, Hamm)
**In pic at right, from L to R: Tim Walsh who hosted the evening, Seth Calvin and John Ratzenberger.
Excellence in Character Creation: The Jim Henson Company
Presented by Jamie Kieffer of Learning Curve Brands which is only fitting as they have the license for the Dinosaur Train line of products. Lisa Henson accepted the award and we got to watch a nice montage video.
Humanitarian Award: Alan Hassenfeld and Ellen Hassenfeld-Block
Ellen accepted the award on behalf of her and her brother who are descendants of the original Hassenfeld brothers (of HASBRO fame). She told a lovely story about how when she was young she thought SHE had invented Mr. Potato Head because her and her brother sifted through their father’s briefcase and found the pieces. Not knowing what to do with them, the took them to the kitchen and poked them into a summer squash (which they really didn’t want to have to eat). It’s was a very cute speech and it’s great to see how many people within the industry do something — other than create happy memories with their products — to make this world a better place. **Ellen is pictured at right.
In Memoriam: George Lerner
George Burtch of Hasbro and Julius Ellman, George’s business partner, presented the In Memoriam award honoring George Lerner the inventor of the iconic Mr. Potato Head. For this portion of the evening they created a great video which included the history of Mr. Potato Head from his time as a prize in a cereal box to where he is today – Top Tater!
**Pictured at right, from L to R: George Burtch, Julius Ellman and one of his sons.
Lifetime Achievement: Eddy GoldfarbReuben Klamer, the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Honoree, and Bob Wann of Patch Products presented Eddy Goldfarb with the Lifetime Achievement award. After deciding to be an inventor during the war, Eddy got his start here in Chicago before moving to California. He talked about the start of his career and even shared (for the first time ever) that he sold the concept for Yakity Yak teeth outright for $2,500–which means he has gotten ZERO royalties on that product! Unreal! He also talked about how this “new technology called PLASTICS” changed his business and how when he was showing theVac-U-Form to Elliot Handler at Mattel it burned Elliot’s desk! Eddy also talked about how no one wanted his bubble gun but he persisted, which was an important message in his speech. He also gave advice to new/aspiring inventors, “Marry a guy or girl that has a JOB!” Love it!**Pictured above, Eddy Goldfarb giving acceptance speech with Bob Wann of Patch Products looking on.