Well it’s over! The Toy & Game Inventor’s Expo (TAGIE), the TAGIE Awards and ChiTag have come and gone. It’s been a long couple of days, but it’s really one of my favorite times of the year. Lots of old inventors, new inventors, industry experts and inventor relations folks discussing their experiences within the industry and catching up on life since Toy Fair.
Some of the highlights:
- Inventor Bruce Lund’s TAGIE conference keynote speech highlighting his life from a jobless industrial design student to getting a position at Marvin Glass and starting in the industry, all the way to being the success he is today. He talked about some of his favorite past inventions like Fireball Island and TMX Elmo. Bruce also received the Humanitarian of the Year Award at the TAGIE Awards for his work with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Chicago amongst other charitable organiztions.
- Razor President, Carlton Calvin’s TAGIE conference keynote speech was also very interested. He talked about how he got started by figuring out a way of putting scorpions into POGS (remember those?) in his garage lab/shop and then bringing ten to a trade show in an attempt to sell them. His first order was for 300 thousand and he then had to find away to get enough scorpions to fill the order! Once the POGS craze died down he made scorpion yo-yos with the leftovers. After dabbling in a couple other things he finally ended up working out a deal to sell the Razor scooter in the US. At the beginning of the craze he was selling ~1 million a month. Now his company works with inventors to come up with great scooter line extension and new products for the Razor company including this year’s hot RipRider 360 which is like a big wheel that you can do crazy spins with. (Interesting tidbit – his son invented this!)
- During the conference panels Sybarit AB President, Roger Gehrke announcing that he wants to be “seduced” by new product concepts. Ha! What a funny Swede.
That night it was the conference dinner and I sat with Mike Gray of Hasbro, Matt Forbeck and Roger Gehrke and then played trivia with John Bell and Jonathan Leahy from Buffalo Games. Love these networking events!
- At the TAGIE Awards, winner Peggy Brown’s acceptance speech was hilarious. Strong work for someone who told me she didn’t prepare anything ahead of time because it was “a long shot.” I’ve seen her body of work – it wasn’t a long shot – but she had some stiff competition being up against the EXTREMELY prolific Reiner Knizia (Easy Come, Easy Go) and Arne Lauwers (Pictureka). Other winners include: Russell Hornsby (Zhu Zhu Pets), Jack Degnan (Word on the Street), and Seth Calvin (Razor RipRider 360).
- TAGIE Lifetime Achievement award went to Reuben Klamer who invented the game of LIFE which celebrates it’s 50th anniversary in 2010. His acceptance speech was extremely witty and humorous; it really was a historic moment. He was also at the HASBRO booth on Saturday autographing copies of LIFE. So wish I would have gotten one of those. Instead all I have is a picture, enjoy!
- TAGIE also honored the passing of Betty James the inventor of the Slinky. Filmmaker and industry expert Tim Walsh did a presentation on her experience within the toy industry and wow was she an amazing woman! She ran the company on her own after her husband ditched her for a cult. (ouch) And she is the one responsible for commissioning the Slinky jingle, releasing the lovable Slinky Dog in 1952 – and then years later getting it into Pixar’s Toy Story movie. Impressive right?
- The Women In Toys breakfast featured great speeches from Mike Hirtle (Hasbro) and Leslie Scott the inventor of Jenga. Leslie spoke about her new book About Jenga and I look forward to interviewing her for the site SO I’m going to keep the rest of the juicy details a secret.
Overall the entire show was awesome! Bravo to Mary Couzin who puts it together! If you didn’t make it down to Navy Pier this year – there is always next year! And during the next couple months I’ll be highlighting some of the product I found there from new inventors. (Of course I have to play it first!) So keep checking back – or follow The Game Aisle on Twitter (@TheGameAisle) or join our fan page on Facebook!