This year’s winners were determined by toy and game fans, who cast their vote online at the TAGIE Web site.
The TAGIE award for Inventor of the Year for Excellence in Toy Design went to Steve and Jeff Rehkemper of Rehkemper Invention and Design; Inventor of the Year for Excellence in Game Design went to Gary Donner and Michael Steer of Random Games and Toys; and Inventor of the Year for Rising Star/Rookie Inventor went to Colleen McCarthy-Evans and Joyce Johnson of Toying with Games.
Also, Jeffrey Breslow, creator of the popular Ants in the Pantsä board game and many other well-known toys, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the toy and game industry. Breslow, who began his inventing career under the famed Marvin Glass, recently retired as president and co-founder of Big Monster Toys (BMT), the world’s largest toy and game inventing studio. An estimated 78 per cent of American households own toys designed by BMT.
“We are thrilled to honor the great minds behind our country’s favorite toys,” said Mary Couzin, executive director of the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. “We recognise the talents of people in many industries, and it’s time these creative individuals receive credit for their contributions.”
Steve and Jeff Rehkemper of Rehco, LLC (winners, Excellence in Toy Design) re-invented the flying toy category – developing the first remote-controlled toy helicopter. The company’s products have generated more than $1 billion in combined sales and include clients such as Mattel, Fisher-Price, Hasbro, Tiger and Spin Master.
Garry Donner and Michael Steer (winners, Excellence in Game Design) of Random Games & Toys gained major success with Pocket Trivia – selling more than 10 million units under the Hoyle brand.
Colleen McCarthy-Evans and Joyce Johnson (winners, Rising Star/Rookie) met at a “Game Design for Fun and Profit” class and became business partners in 2002. After only six years, the company has already been recognised for: In a Pickle and Aunt Millie’s Millions (sold by Gamewright); There’s a Fly in My Soup and Beeline (sold by Basic Concepts); Pokemon Pokeball Flip, Be the Expert, Pandamania and Dig that Dinosaur (sold by Pressman) and Disney Fairies Fancy Flight and To Know Me Is To Love Me (sold by Danawares).
Speakers at the ceremony included numerous experts in the field, including those in product acquisition for some of the world’s largest toy companies, toy and game historians and experts, game buyers for large retail companies, consultants, graphic designers, game inventors and more.