Archive for February, 2012

Top Toys and Games of the Year Unveiled at OSCARS of the Toy Industry LeapPad Explorer from LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. Garners Coveted Toy of the Year Title

Monday, February 13th, 2012

New York, NY | February 11, 2012 – More than five hundred toy industry executives and guests from around the globe gathered in New York City tonight to honor their peers at the 12th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

A Toy Industry Association (TIA)-administered event in support of the Toy Industry Foundation, the glittering gala held in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center kicked off the 109th American International Toy Fair and paid tribute to today’s superstars, tomorrow’s bright up-and-comers and illustrious toy industry icons.

Interspersed with the presentations of twelve TOTY Awards were two inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame:  Arnie Rubin, Founder and CEO of Funrise Toy, and the late Frederick August Otto Schwarz, founder of FAO Schwarz.  The new inductees join a distinguished roster of nearly 60 toy industry luminaries who have been inducted into the Hall since its establishment in 1985.

“Tonight’s event was a wonderful way to celebrate the launch of Toy Fair week and recognize the absolute best in toys and children’s entertainment,” said Carter Keithley, TIA president. “Thanks to the outstanding work of the talented individuals and innovative companies honored tonight, kids around the world are brought joy each day through play!”

Award winners were selected with the input of consumers (on, retailers (mass and specialty), media and members of the toy industry.  The five ballots – open from November 21, 2011 to January 15, 2012 – were weighted and used to determine the category winners as well as the overall “Toy of the Year” award.

LeapPad™ Explorer by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. received the coveted “Toy of the Year” title and was awarded Educational Toy of the Year and Preschool Toy of the Year.  The awards program included 77 finalists across the 11 categories.

And the winners are…

  • Recognizing an outstanding toy that inspires creative play through various forms of activity, the Activity Toy of the Year was presented to LEGO® NINJAGO Fire Temple by LEGO Systems, Inc.
  • Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for boys of any age, the Boy Toy of the Year was presented to Hot Wheels ® Wall Tracks ™ by Mattel, Inc.
  • Recognizing an outstanding toy that helps children develop special skills and knowledge through play, the Educational Toy of the Year was presented to LeapPad™ Explorer by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.
  • Recognizing an outstanding children’s board, card, CD-ROM or electronic game, the Game of the Year was presented to Angry Birds Knock On Wood Game by Mattel, Inc.
  • Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for girls of any age, the Girl Toy of the Year was presented to Fijit Friends™ Interactive Figures by Mattel / Radica®.
  • Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for infants and toddlers up to 36 months, the Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year was presented to Elefun Busy Ball Popper by Hasbro / Playskool.
  • Recognizing an outstanding toy that combines innovation and play value, the Innovative Toy of the Year was presented to Hot Wheels ® Wall Tracks ™ by Mattel, Inc.
  • Recognizing an outstanding toy that is designed for outdoor play, the Outdoor Toy of the Year was presented toRockboard® Scooter – Mini by M.Y. Products LLC.
  • Recognizing an outstanding toy developed for preschool-aged children (ages 3-5) the Preschool Toy of the Year was presented to LeapPad™ Explorer by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.
  • Recognizing a property that has had the greatest success spreading its brand throughout the industry, Property of the Yearwas presented to Angry Birds™ by Rovio Entertainment Ltd/ Striker Entertainment (Licensing Agent).
  • Recognizing an outstanding toy that is distributed primarily through specialty toy retailers, the Specialty Toy of the Year was presented to HEXBUG® Nano® Hive TM Habitat Set by Innovation First Labs, Inc.

Descriptions of each TOTY-nominated toy and links to each manufacturer’s website can be found online at The finalists were selected from nearly 600 products and properties submitted for consideration. Nomination committees comprised of academics, journalists & toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors & designers, and toy retailers narrowed the field to the slate of 77 finalists.

Event sponsors for the evening were JAKKS Pacific, Inc. (diamond level), PlaSmart, Inc. and York-Jersey Underwriters (gold level) and Dallas Market Center (silver level).

For more information, please visit or the Toy Industry Hall of Fame website.
About the Toy Industry Association (TIA)  (
TIA is the not-for-profit trade association for producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America, representing 550 companies who account for approximately 85% of domestic toy sales.  Toy safety is the number one priority for the toy industry. TIA has a long history of leadership in toy safety including development of the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 30 years ago, and working with government, consumers and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play.

About the Toy Industry Foundation   (
While other organizations provide food, shelter and support services to children and their families, the Toy Industry Foundation sees to it that these children have toys and opportunities to play in an attempt to restore both fun and a sense of normalcy to their lives. The Foundation currently fulfills its mission through core programs including The Toy Bank™ and grants to organizations whose missions are in line with that of the Toy Industry Foundation.



Friday, February 10th, 2012

Paul Warner to Head Up National Sales for Company’s Expanding Toy Division Including HEXBUG® Micro Robotic Creatures and Bobble BotsTM Brands

GREENVILLE, Texas – February 10, 2012 – Innovation First Labs, Inc. masterminds behind the internationally recognized HEXBUG® Micro Robotic Creatures and new Bobble BotsTM consumer toy brands, today officially announced the appointment of sales and marketing veteran Paul Warner as vice president of sales for national accounts including Toys“R”Us, K- Mart and Costco. In his new role, Warner will oversee US sales and account operations for the toy divisions growing product lines.

“Paul Warner has the recognized talent and business relationships in the market that we need to spear-head some of our largest retail accounts as we dynamically expand our consumer toy product lines,” said Chris Troyak, president of Innovation First Labs, Inc. “His qualifications include a thorough understanding of the business, with proven success in marketing, sales and purchasing for the industry’s leading toy brands.”

Warner joins the team with more than 30 years of sales, marketing, and purchasing experience, having served in executive positions at companies including Mega Brands, Rose Art, Mega Bloks and MGA Entertainment. Most recently, Warner served as an independent sales and marketing representative for PAWTOYS, LLC, an independent sales force representing lines including Meccano Erector. Prior to PAWTOYS, Warner served as vice president of sales at Mega Brands of America, where he led a sales team for multiple categories, including Mega Bloks, Rose Art, and Magnetix. He also spent three years as senior vice president of sales for MGA Entertainment, where he boosted the business and profitability of electronic and licensed toys for lead brands including the popular Bratz dolls line.

About Innovation First Labs, Inc.:

Innovation First Labs, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of privately held Innovation First International, Inc. The company was founded on the belief that innovation very early in the design process is necessary to produce simple and elegant product designs. Innovation First International’s three main subsidiaries, VEX Robotics, Inc., Innovation First Labs, Inc. (makers of HEXBUG® Micro Robotic Creatures), and RackSolutions, Inc. span the education, consumer and business-to-business markets. For more information visit



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