The annual Chicago Toy & Game Week took place last month, ushering in the holiday season with a week of industry meetings and seminars capped off with the consumer-focused Chicago Toy & Game Fair (ChiTAG). As part of the festivities, the Chicago Toy & Game Group revealed the winners of the 12th annual Toy and Game Innovation (TAGIE) Awards, recognizing top toy and game innovators from around the world.

Hosted by Karri Bean, senior licensing manager, Disney Parks Experiences & Products, the event was attended by nearly 500 members of the toy and game industry. The TOTY Award-nominated Star Wars Interactive D-O by Hasbro made a special appearance on stage prior to the keynote address, which was delivered by Mattel President and Chief Operating Officer Richard Dickson. The evening culminated with the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award that honored Ivan Moscovich.

“The TAGIE Awards Gala is always an inspiring evening as we celebrate the amazing innovators behind some of the most successful toys and games,” says Mary Couzin, founder and president, Chicago Toy & Game Group. “This year was especially memorable as Ivan Moscovich shared his life journey from surviving concentration camps as a teenager, to becoming one of the most prolific inventors in the industry over the past seven decades.”

2019 TAGIE Award Winners:

TOY INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR (Presented by ASTRA)

Ryan Kratz and Gil Zalayet for the Imaginext DC Super Friends Transforming Batmobile RC Vehicle (Mattel)

GAME INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR (Presented by The Michael Kohner Corp.)

Kane Klenko for Pandemic: Rapid Response (Z-Man Games), Cosmic Factory (Gigamic), Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Kraken (Minion Games), Proving Grounds (Renegade Game Studios), and Slap It! (Renegade Game Studios)

RISING STAR INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR

Urtis Šulinskas for Planet (Blue Orange) and Pigasus (Brain Games)

YOUNG INVENTOR OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Hasbro)

Ellie Skalla for Galactiquest (Goliath)

INNOVATIVE ART AND VISUALS OF THE YEAR

Christian Castro (What Do You Meme?) for New Phone Who Dis? (What Do You Meme)

INNOVATIVE PR AND MARKETING TEAM OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Rummikub)

LEGO Marvel Team for  LEGO Marvel Avengers End Game Construction Sets by LEGO Campaign

MOST INNOVATIVE RETAILER AWARD (Sponsored by The Toy Association)

Exploding Kittens for Throw Throw Burrito Kickstarter

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT HONOREE AWARD (Sponsored by Mattel)

Ivan Moscovich, a five-time concentration camp survivor and one of the most prolific inventors in the industry. He has licensed 111 puzzles, toys and games, and written 69 books, and was the founder and director of the Tel Aviv Science Museum, which was the inspiration for the San Francisco Exploratorium. It was at the Tel Aviv Science Museum, where he met Elliot and Ruth Handler, the founders of Mattel and designed the popular Brain Drain series for them.

HASSENFELD FAMILY INITIATIVES HUMANITARIAN AWARD (Sponsored by Hassenfeld Family Initiatives)

  • Spin Master for The Toy Movement
  • Hasbro for sustainable packaging commitment
  • Disney for Disney Team of Heroes

IN MEMORIUM (Sponsored by ThinkFun)

The following creatives who have passed within the past year were recognized: Theor Coster, Alan Roach, Jerry Robson, Loren Taylor, Beau James, Emanuel Winston, Abe Mor, Dominic Laurienzo, Tom Kremer, Jerry Welch, Len Clark, Bill Dorman, Charles Lazarus, Omri Rothschild, Jim Muntz, and Ted Kiesewetter

Plans are already underway for the next Chicago Toy & Game Week, set to take place Nov. 19-22, 2020. The 13th annual TAGIE Awards Gala will take place Nov. 20 at Navy Pier in Chicago.