The Toy Association has named Ronnen Harary, Anton Rabie, and Ben Varadi, co-founders of Spin Master; Mary Couzin, Founder and President of the Chicago Toy & Game Fair (ChiTAG) and People of Play; the late John McLoughlin, founder of board game company McLoughlin Brothers; the late Rose O’Neill, creator of Kewpie dolls; the late David Ring, founder of Larami Corporation; and the late John Lloyd Wright, inventor of Lincoln Logs as the 2023 Toy Industry Hall of Fame inductees.
The Hall of Fame inductees were nominated and voted on by members of The Toy Association in recognition of their contributions to the industry and the impact they have had on the lives of children through a lifelong commitment to toys and play. They will join a roster of 85 toy industry luminaries who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since its establishment in 1984, including Walt Disney, Ruth and Elliot Handler, Jim Henson, Stan Lee, and more.
This year’s posthumous inductees were first recommended as part of a slate of candidates brought forth by the Hall of Fame Subcommittee on Posthumous Selection, which considered diversity in company, area of contribution, ethnicity, gender, and lasting impact on the toy industry. The nominees were then voted on by the Hall of Fame Committee and the four inductees were approved by The Toy Association Board of Directors. The process for selecting posthumous inductees helps to ensure the recognition of any deserving person who has contributed to the U.S. toy industry since 1800 who might have been overlooked in previous years.
Ronnen Harary, Anton Rabie, and Ben Varadi co-founded Spin Master in 1994 with a single product idea and a $10,000 investment of their own money. Together, they have led the company’s growth, transforming it from a small start-up into a leading global children’s entertainment company with a diverse portfolio of innovative toys, entertainment franchises, and digital games.
After creating, self-producing, and licensing her own toys and games, Mary Couzin turned her passion for invention into a passion for helping others through discovertoysandgames.com, a resource for toy and game inventors. In 2003, she launched the CHiTAG and most recently launched People of Play.
John McLoughlin established McLoughlin Brothers in 1858, becoming its creative force and business expert. The company initially focused on publishing puzzles and picture books, best known for its illustrated editions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The company soon evolved to also offer games and stood as the top board game company in the U.S. for 50 years.
Rose O’Neill was a self-taught artist, toy inventor, and trailblazer in the women’s suffrage movement. She was the first woman to publish a comic strip in the U.S. and was the sole female member of humor magazine Puck from 1897 to 1903. In 1909, O’Neill introduced her most renowned creation, Kewpie dolls.
David Ring began selling toys from his car in Philadelphia after the Great Depression, eventually co-founding Ring Brothers Wholesale Toys with his brother. In 1959, after a trip to Japan to explore toy imports, David established Larami Corporation as one of the pioneering importers of its time.
John Lloyd Wright, son of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was an architect and a toy inventor best known for creating Lincoln Logs in 1916. The idea was inspired by his father’s construction of the Imperial Hotel in Japan.
“Ronnen Harary, Anton Rabie, and Ben Varadi, along with Mary Couzin, are each pioneers in their own right whose remarkable influence has profoundly shaped the modern-day toy industry,” says Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Toy Association. “As the founders of Spin Master, the three extraordinary visionaries have created beloved products, entertainment franchises, and digital games that have brought joy to the lives of millions of children while building one of the most important companies in the global toy industry. Mary, a passionate advocate and supporter of the inventor community who has worked tirelessly on a range of events and services, is also an invaluable member of The Toy Association who dedicates her time contributing to our collective efforts, including serving on the Toy of the Year Award Selection Committee. It is with great admiration that The Toy Association has inducted John McLoughlin, Rose O’Neill, David Ring, and John Lloyd Wright posthumously. This honor is a testament to their enduring legacies, timeless toys, and remarkable achievements. Their contributions have paved the way for countless toy inventors, inspiring them to dream big and push the boundaries of innovation.”
The 2023 Toy Industry Hall of Fame inductees will be honored in September at The Toy Foundation‘s Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards ceremony. The Toy Industry Hall of Fame is exhibited at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. For more information about the 2023 inductees visit toyassociation.org/HOF.