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TAGIEs - Celebrating the Makers of Play!

2016 Toy & Game Innovation Awards

November 18th, 2016


The TAGIEs are an elegant and playful evening gala that brings together industry leaders from inventors to manufacturers to retailers as well as the public for a celebratory evening of innovators and inventors from around the world.

The Toy & Game Innovation Awards are voted on by industry experts, retailers and consumers to recognize recipients for excellence in various categories. The TAGIEs also recognize the teams the inventors worked with at the companies that brought their ideas to life. This collaboration and inventiveness has resulted in the most fun and entertaining play products on the market today. We also honor to those inventor greats who stand out in the toy industry for their exceptionally innovative spirit of fun, philanthropy, and humanitarianism.

2016 TAGIEs Stage

Andy Roo Forrest of Forrest Pruzan Performs "Just Put My Name on the Box" - a crowd favorite! (2016)

Thank You to Our Sponsors! 

2016 TAGIE Awards Winners and Honorees


Winner: David Yakos, Steamline Design with Lionel Trains for Mega Tracks

Presenter: Jeffrey Breslow, Toy Designer for 41 years



Winner: Jeremy Posner, Big Monster Toys with FatBrain Toys for Coggy

Presenter: Jeff Pinsker, President of Pressman Toy



Winner: Alice Brooks, Roominate with PlayMonster for Cotton Candy Carnival

Presenter: PJ Palijo, Vice President of Product Design & Development for NBC Universal Consumer Products



Winner: Phoebe Hayman, Seedling for Maze

Presenter: Robin Raskin, Founder of Living in Digital Times 


The Hassenfeld Family Humanitarian Award went to Special Olympics Chicago.


This year’s Lifetime Achievement Honoree was Reyn Guyer, who developed and licensed Twister game to Milton Bradley/Hasbro and developed and licensed NERF BALL to Parker Brothers/Hasbro


The Inventor Advocacy Honoree was awarded to the UK Inventor Dinner Committee. 

2016 TAGIE Awards Host

Our host of the evening is Richard Gill,  a long time member of the industry. In the mid-80’s Richard worked first as a licensee, subsequently becoming the Executive VP of Horn Abbot International for Trivial Pursuit internationally. Richard became a partner in the Pictionary brand in the late 1980’s and expanded development into 70+ markets and 40+ languages around the world while developing a licensing program including as an Emmy Nomination" for the Pictionary TV show. In 2001 Richard founded a successful business working with multiple smaller companies and inventors to help exploit brands and concepts around the world. Today McGill Assocs. has products placed in 40+ global markets including multiple award winning products "5 Second Rule”, “Telestrations”, "My Fairy Garden”, “ANOMIA” and “Roominate”

2016 TAGIE Awards Keynote

Presenting our keynote is Hasbro's Rich Mazel. Rich’s post-Notre Dame (M.B.A.) career began in Chicago as a wide-eyed financial consultant for Deloitte, all while frantically sketching and pitching new product ideas to anyone who would listen, and to many that wouldn’t :)  In 2005, Rich moved to Los Angeles – enticed by the warm weather, green golf courses and creative spirit.  Eventually his passion for everything fun and innovative led him into the wild and wonderful world of Toy Invention.  Rich swapped coasts in 2013 and joined Hasbro’s Global Product Acquisition team as the Head of Toy Acquisitions, taking on the iconic toy brands of Nerf, Transformers, My Little Pony, Playdoh, Star Wars, etc…  

Our Keynote for the evening is Steven Fink, the co-owner of Bang Zoom Design Ltd., a Cincinnati-based inventing firm that specializes in creating promoted toys & games for the mass market.  His primary role is managing all aspects of business and driving the creative development toward making the next Hot Toy. Steve’s love for toys is evident in his crazy vintage toy collection, which he has been amassing for over 25 years.  Bang Zoom has licensed over 400 inventions, resulting in over $1 billion in retail sales.  Currently, in 2016, Bang Zoom has 35 new product introductions spread across every toy category, including Games, Dolls, Plush, and Action Figures. 

2016 TAGIE Presenters

Presenting Toy Innovator of the Year is Jeffrey Breslow. Jeffrey has been a toy designer for 41 years. He accomplished his dream after studying Industrial Design at the University of Illinois. From 1967 to 1988 he worked for and ultimately was a managing partner for Marvin Glass and Associates. From 1988 until 2008 he was the president of Big Monster Toys. In 1988 Jeffrey Breslow, Howard Morrison and Rouben Terzian were inducted in to the Toy Manufactures Hall of Fame. In 2007 Breslow received the first TAGIE Life Time Achievement Award. For the past eight years he has been a full time sculptor and now runs the Jeffrey Breslow Gallery in the West Loop in Chicago.

Presenting Game Innovator of the Year is Jeff Pinsker. Jeff founded two companies and sold three, in businesses ranging from practical jokes to children’s television to educational toys and games. Accomplishments include: creating products that have sold 35+ million units, establishing an international distribution network spanning 104 countries, starting a division that converted legacy IP into mobile apps, running a company with the #1 rated show on The Disney Channel. Jeff is president of Pressman Toy. Previous positions include leadership roles at: Scholastic’s Klutz division, Infinitoy, and University Games. Board service includes: American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, National Education Week, Stanford’s Entrepreneurs Group, Recent Toys, and the Tech Museum’s Tech Challenge. He is a Mentor at SKU, a CPG incubator in Austin, TX. Pinsker has authored 13 children’s books, and holds a master’s and two bachelor’s degrees from Stanford University.

Presenting Digital Toy or Game Innovator of the Year is Robin Raskin.

Robin is founder of Living in Digital Times (LIDT), a team of technophiles who bring together top experts and the latest innovations to look at the intersection of lifestyle and technology. LIDT produces a number of notable conferences and expos at CES® and at conferences and events worldwide. The company’s trademark events include: Last Gadget Standing, Digital Health Summit, FashionWare, Fitness Tech Summit, Kids@Play Summit, The Digital Money Forum and others. In a previous lifetime, Robin honed her tech chops at a variety of technology publications. She was a columnist for USA Today online, editor of PC Magazine, started FamilyPC magazine and was one of the founding contributors of Yahoo! Tech.  Author of six books, magazine publisher, blogger, TV and radio personality, Robin has been a thought-leader at the forefront of an ever-changing topic: what it means to be digital.  She currently writes for Huffington Post, Everyday Health, Chip Chick, and other publications, and is frequently called upon as a technology expert for TV and media.  

2016 Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Reyn Guyer was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  He and his wife Mary have five children.  In 1967, Reyn developed and licensed the TWISTER® game to Milton Bradley/Hasbro.   In 1969, he developed and licensed the NERF BALL® to Parker Brothers/Hasbro.  Reyn was inducted into the Hasbro inventors’ Hall of Fame in 1986.  He co-founded Wrensong Music, Nashville in 1986. Other music projects include Curly Lasagna, LYRIAS and STAINED GLASS, a musical drama.  In 1991, he co-founded Winsor Learning, a highly effective remediation program for those behind in their reading skills.  His latest game is an outdoor lawn game called KINGSCOURT.

2016 Inventor Advocacy Honoree

The UK Inventor Dinner Committee puts together a most unusual dinner each year for charity during the London Toy Fair. They are creative and show some of the less well known London landmarks by choosing a different, and hopefully inspiring, venue each year. The London Dungeon, Churchill War Rooms and London Zoo are just three of the unusual venues over the past 33 years. They have their own prizes, The WITTY (Winning Inventor Toy of The Year) prize goes to the best inventor product as chosen by the dinner guests. And, being the toy business, there’s always an IDIOT – International Designer & Inventor of Toys – an award given as a tribute to luminaries who have made an outstanding contribution to the toy industry. There are some past winners at ChiTAG!

Accepting on behalf of the Committee is Simon Skelton. Simon is co-founder and the face of Big Ideas!  He is also a writer with several humour books in print, and, at long last, a TV show in development. Avid film fan. Collector of Marvel. Would have liked to be Iron Man or the Hulk… but instead Simon loves developing board games for girls!

2016 Hassenfeld Family Initiatives Humanitarian Award

Special Children's Charities has been supporting Special Olympics Chicago programs since 1969. Created by Jack McHugh, Special Children’s Charities’ primary mission is to promote, foster and encourage physical and mental health and improvement for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and closely related developmental disabilities.

Presenting the Hassenfeld Falimy Initiative Humanitarian Award is Ellen Hassenfeld Block, registered occupational therapist, business owner and philanthropist committed to addressing critical issues affecting children and families in need, nationally and internationally.  She is a Trustee of the Toy Industry Foundation; member of the Executive Committee of the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYULMC; Chair of the Board of Advisors at Tufts University - Friedman School of Nutrition; Trustee of the University of Chicago Medical Center; and a member of the Advisory Council of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. She served as Chair of the Hasbro Children’s Foundation, and co-Founder and Chair of the September 11th Children’s Fund. Ellen Block was named one of “100 Women Making a Difference” by Today’s Chicago Woman magazine, is a recipient of the Children’s Aid Society Charles Loring Brace Award, the National Hannah Solomon Award, and TAGIE Humanitarian Award. She is a graduate of Tufts University and received an Honorary Doctorate from the Audrey Cohen College for Social Research.

Accepting for Special Olympics is James 'Skinny' Sheahan.  Jim's work experience ranges from working at the Mayor’s office as the Director of Special Events, to serving as the the Assistant General Manager of McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America. Jim’s work experience has lead him to oversee years of festivals, movies, protocol, sporting events, and parades in the City of Chicago. He is a past  President of Special Olympics Chicago, and now serves as a Board Member and the Director of Corporate Development at Special Olympics Chicago.

Musical performances by Andy Roo Forrest. Andy is a game designer, a songwriter and a serial entrepreneur.   He co-founded Pearl’s, ENTROS, and more recently WonderForge, which Ravensburger purchased in 2012.  Andy is a principal at Forrest-Pruzan Creative, a premier game design studio that creates  about 60 published games annually. Andy lives on a houseboat in Seattle with a few other life-forms.  He is currently writing a musical about over-population and world consumption.

Music provided by Skip Towne and the Greyhounds, Chicago's #1 Blues Band! The band's music is hard-driving, heartfelt, classic blues, jazz, swing, ballads, and downright good time Rockin’ Blues.

2016 TAGIE Award Finalists


Phoebe Hayman, Seedling for Maze

Don Stucke, Fisher-Price for Think & Learn Code-a-pillar

Don Inmon & Matt MacBeth, pi Lab for Edwin the Duck

Dan Klitsner, Brian Clemens and Gary Levenberg from KID Group with Hasbro KIDS Gaming Team for Simon Air

Robin Rath & Josh Stevens, Pixel Press for Bloxels

Pramod Sharma, Tangible Play for Osmo



Forrest-Pruzan Creative with Wonder Forge for Dr. Seuss Thing Two and Thing One Whirly Fun! and USAopoly for Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

Nicholas Cravotta & Rebecca Bleau, BlueMatter Games with

ThinkFun for Escape the Room Series

Jeremy Posner, Big Monster Toys with FatBrain Toys for Coggy

Rob Daviau, Ironwall Games, co-designer of Pandemic: Legacy with Matt Leacock for Z-Man Games and for SeaFall with Plaid Hat Games

Mike Bisogno, designer at Cardinal Industries for Finding Dory and more

Graham Thornton & Hasbro Family Gaming Team for Pie Face Showdown



Troy Fischer & Hasbro Yokai Watch Team, for Yo-Motion Yokai Watch

Michael Bernstein, Jakks Pacific for Gift’ems

Ali Kermani, Razor for RipSurf

David McDonald, Spin Master for Hatchimals

Peter Greenley & Nick Grisolia, G2Invention with Spin Master for Zoomer Chimp

Jim McCafferty, JMP Creative with Maya Group for PomPomWow Decoration Station

David Yakos, Steamline Design with Lionel Trains for Mega Tracks



Brady Peterson, Pleyful with Marbles for Otrio

Julien Sharp, FunnyBone Toys for Anaxi

Andrena Baxter, InterPlay UK with PlayMonster for My Fairy Garden

Mikkel Bertelsen, with Marektoy for Klask

Alice Brooks, Roominates with PlayMonster for Cotton Candy Carnival

Ciaran Larkin, ourstanding designer in the Hasbro Fellowship Program

Ken Gruhl & Quentin Weir, with North Star Games for Happy Salmon

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