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PomPomWow Dome 2016_edited
2016 TAGIES stage w color
Twister Dress 2016_edited
Kathleen Campisano Conference Speech 2016



CHICAGO, Ill. (December 21, 2016) – The Chicago Toy & Game Group hosted the 14th Annual Chicago International Toy & Game Fair the weekend before Thanksgiving at Chicago’s Navy Pier.  The ChiTAG Fair is the largest toy and game fair in North America open to the public.  With its largest crowd ever of more than 33,000 consumers, social influencers, media and trade, the Fair is recognized as the premier destination for hands-on experience of the hottest toys and games for each holiday season. This year, over 160 companies showcased thousands of toys and games at the Fair. 


In addition to the Fair, Chicago Toy & Game Week hosts synergistic events including the Chicago Toy & Game Innovation & Inventor Conferences, PlayCHIC, Toy & Game Innovation Awards (TAGIEs), Blogger & Media Breakfast, Young Inventor Challenge, Young Tech Challenge and more.


Kicking off the week’s events was the 11th annual Toy & Game Inventor and Innovation Conferences. Keynotes this year included Kathleen Campisano (VP GMM Toys, Games, Hobby & Collectibles at Barnes & Noble), Andy Roo Forrest (Partner, Forrest-Pruzan Creative), Jim McCafferty (Owner, JMP Creative), Tim Walsh (Chief Playmaker, The Playmakers), Reyn Guyer (Serial Entrepreneur, developer of Twister and Nerf), Julie Cole (Co-Founder of Mabel’s Labels) and Michelle Thaller (Assistant Director of Science, NASA Headquarters). 

The 9th annual Toy & Game Innovator of the Year Awards Gala (TAGIEs), presented by Hasbro, recognizes excellence in toy and game industry innovation.  David Yakos won Toy Innovator of the Year with Lionel Trains for Mega Tracks. Jeremy Posner was awarded Game Innovator of the Year with FatBrain Toys for Coggy. Alice Brooks was named Rising Star Innovator of the Year with Roominate and PlayMonster for Cotton Candy Carnival. Phoebe Hayman won Digital Toy or Game Innovator of the Year for Seedling’s Maze. The Hassenfeld Family Humanitarian Award went to Special Olympics Chicago. This year’s Inventor Advocacy Honoree was the UK Inventor Dinner Committee. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Reyn Guyer, who developed and licensed Twister and NERF BALL.


Following the TAGIE Awards was the 5th Annual PlayCHIC Fashion Show. This annual fashion show gave fashion designers the chance to combine creativity and playfulness with top toy and game brands.  Fashion designer Borris Powell hosted the playful event that showcased designs based on Twister for the game’s 50th Anniversary, Mabel’s Labels and Maya Toys’ Orbeez and PomPomWow.


The Young Inventor Challenge, presented by Pressman Toy and Target, had a record number of participants.  A total of 115 original toy and game entries were created by nearly 200 children.  Olivia Wasilewski and Brynna Siewers won the Grand Prize for their game, Ship of Treasures, a pirate-themed treasure hunt game.  The girls have the chance to have their winning game manufactured by Pressman Toy and made available at Target. Julia Herod and Jasmine Erikson won the Senior Category for their game, Feel to Find, a tactile search game. Tunush Doshi won the Junior Category for his game, Get Wow’d by Wild Kratts, a trivia game based on the children’s TV series Wild Kratts.

The inaugural Young Tech Challenge, presented by Spin Master, invited inventors from the ages of 8 to 22 years to bring together imagination, play and tech to create a playful tech product. Winners were selected in three age categories: Junior (8-13 years old), Middle (14-18 years old), and Senior (19-22 years old). Jeffrey Huang won the Junior category, Ishan Patel & Nathan Pruyne won the Middle category, and Glenn Careau, Julian Rojas, and Raphael Alvarado won the Senior category. First-place winners were each awarded a $350 check, sponsored by Genius of Play, in addition to some of Spin Master’s hottest toys.

The Chicago Toy & Game Group also hosted a lineup of top play influencers to the Chicago Toy & Game Week events to provide live coverage from a variety of unique perspectives on the week’s events.  The ambassadors included Keriann Wilmot from, Candice Kilpatrick from Mom Most Traveled, Alison Ray from So Chic Life, James Zahn from The Rock Father, Beth Engelman from Mommy On A Shoestring, Nicole Brady from SAHM Reviews and many more. For the second year in a row, ChiTAG hosted the hugely popular mom and daughter team, Melissa and Gracie Hunter, behind the YouTube sensation “Mommy & Gracie Show.”


The top play influencers joined other social influencers and media with their families at the 9th Annual Blogger and Media Breakfast. The first Top Trumps collectible deck of ChiTAG Play Influencers 2016 was distributed to the more than 600 attendees who also enjoyed interactive activities, breakfast, early admission to the Fair, a scavenger hunt and talks from sponsors PlayMonster, Ask Idea and Razor.


Plans for the 15th annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair are already underway as consumers, social influencers, media, inventors and industry professionals can expect another incredible week of events just prior to Thanksgiving 2017.  Please visit as more details become available.


About the Chicago Toy & Game Group, Inc.

The Chicago Toy & Game Group, Inc. promotes and hosts initiatives designed to encourage and promote the power of play and invention in social, educational, and professional environments. Chicago Toy & Game Group initiatives include the Chicago Toy & Game Fair (ChiTAG), the Toy & Game Innovation Awards (the TAGIEs), Inventor Conferences for New and Professional Inventors and Product Acquisition Executives, the Young Inventor Challenge, the Young TECH Challenge, Play in Education Conference, DiscoverToysandGames Inventor Co-op, the PlayCHIC Fashion Show, and the Chicago Toy & Game Foundation. For more information, visit

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