Source: People of Play/The Toy Book

The Chicago Toy & Game Group (ChiTAG) has rebranded under a new name: People of Play (POP).

ChiTAG founder and occasional Toy Book contributor Mary Couzin will continue to lead POP in its efforts to “continue the mission of promoting innovation, creativity, and connectivity in the toy and game industry.”

“While Chicago continues to be our home base, we believe the name People of Play better describes the vast reach of our organization,” says Couzin. “Over the last two decades, ChiTAG has grown to connect tens of thousands of incredible inventors, brands, distributors, retailers, PR agencies, suppliers, media, and influencers from all over the world. We believe community is at the heart of this organization, and People of Play will continue to be a leader in fostering an environment of support and collaboration.”

Following the news that Chicago’s Navy Pier — the longtime venue for the Chicago Toy & Game Fair — will be closing until next spring, POP has revealed plans for ChiTAG Presents People of Play Week. The virtual event will take place from Nov. 16-20.

ChiTAG Presents People of Play Week

Leaders and Legends talks, including:
• Richard Dickson, president and COO, Mattel
• Jill Barad, former Mattel CEO
• Tom Kalinske, former president at SEGA, Mattel, and LeapFrog; current executive chairman, Mixed Dimensions
• Eddy Goldfarb, creator of KerPlunk and Hydro Strike
• Reuben Klamer, inventor of more than 200 products, including the classic Fisher-Price Preschool Trainer Skates and Hasbro’s The Game of Life
• Neil Friedman, former president at Alex Brands, Toys “R” Us, Mattel, Fisher-Price, and Tyco Preschool

Toy & Game International Excellence Awards (TAGIES)
Taking place Friday, Nov. 20, the 13th annual TAGIE Awards will recognize outstanding achievement in the toy and game industry.

The Toy & Game Innovation Awards have been renamed the Toy & Game International Excellence Awards, keeping the TAGIE designation while broadening its scope to honor innovators, designers, and marketers in the toy and game industry.

A new category was added this year for Most Innovative Supplier. Inspired by the creativity that has been forced by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new category seeks to honor individuals and companies that have stepped up to lead in challenging times.

Karri Bean, senior manager, licensing at Disney Parks, Experiences, & Products returns to host the TAGIEs for a second year. The keynote speaker will be JoAnn McLaughlin, senior vice president of hardlines product development, Disney Parks, Experiences & Products.

Special honorees include Erno Rubik, inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, with a Lifetime Achievement Award; and Norman and Arlene Fabricant for Celebration of Life and Lifetime Achievement Awards.

POP’s Got Talent

This late-night event on Nov. 20 will be hosted by brothers Robert and David Fuhrer of Nextoy and BlueSquare Innovations, respectively. The talent show will feature Steve Casino and his peanut art; magic by Jim McCafferty of JMP Creative; Danny Kishon of All in 1 Products; magician and inventor Mark Setteducati; and backward talking from Guiness Book of World Records holder David Fuhrer.

Chicago Toy & Game Fair
The annual event goes virtual across three stages on Saturday, Nov. 21 and Sunday, Nov. 22.

• Stage 1: Young Inventor Challenge with a workshop for young inventors.
• Stage 2: Preschoolers can listen to stories from their favorite characters, watch a magic show, and participate in fun singalongs.
• Stage 3: Families can learn the behind-the-scenes secrets of popular toys and games.

Tickets for ChiTAG Presents People of Play Week go on sale Monday, Aug. 24.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.