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


1,300,000,000+ MEDIA IMPRESSIONS

CHICAGO, IL (December 20, 2017) - The 15th annual Chicago Toy and Game Week (ChiTAG) drew toy and game industry heavyweights and more than 30,000 consumers to Navy Pier the weekend before Thanksgiving. With more than 120 exhibiting companies representing the best of play, attendees kicked off their holiday toy shopping while experiencing the latest and greatest products and innovations. Behind the scenes, leaders from the world’s biggest  toy and game companies, retailers and investors perused new concepts from established and aspiring inventors, all vying to have their playful ideas become the next great trend. With sponsors including Hasbro, Mattel, Goliath, Pressman Toy, Spin Master, Play Monster, LEGO and TARGET, the spirit of collaboration and cooperative competition was alive and well at ChiTAG 2017.


Highlights of ChiTAG’s marquee consumer Fair included larger-than-life versions of popular games, pop-up play spaces, live gameplay, tournaments, inventor meet-and-greets and discounts from the show floor just in time for the holidays. Based on voting by Fair attendees, Playfoam, the squishy squashy modeling compound from Educational Insights won Best Toy in Show. The award for Best Game in Show went to Soggy Doggy by Spin Master, which drew lines of kids and adults to its larger-than-life, super-soaking version of the game on the show floor. Attendees also enjoyed meeting prominent game inventors, experimenting with next generation toys in virtual reality with Merge Cube, and getting physical with a giant game of Build or Boom from Goliath, and the Super Spinner Swing from Playmonster. On Sunday, Detroit native, Josh Morof, won the US National Rummikub Tournament, and will now enjoy an all-expense paid trip to Israel for the 2018 Rummikub World Championship.


ChiTAG once again played host to top media outlets and bloggers that help keep the beat of the toy and game industry. Features from the show floor included Fox Business News and local Chicago ABC, NBC, FOX, and more. On Saturday,  Midwest area bloggers convened for an exclusive luncheon sponsored by the Toy Industry Association and Top Trumps. Attendees each received a one-of-a-kind  card game pack from Top Trumps, customized to feature notable toy and game industry inventors. This year, show exhibitors gained a larger audience than those attending live in Chicago thanks to ongoing Facebook Live interviews conducted in a pop-up studio on the show floor by digital media hub, 30 Seconds.


Each year, ChiTAG plays host to the Young Inventor Challenge (YIC), which offers creative youths the opportunity to be mentored by and present their original toy and game inventions to industry luminaries. This year’s winners were selected from more than 120 hopefuls. And, video participation enabled the YIC to touch more kids than ever, with 15 entrants competing exclusively online. With 12 total awards given at junior and senior levels in six award categories, all eyes were on Ellie Skalla of Oak Park, IL, the senior winner in the Most Marketable Game Concept category for her concept, Galactiquest. All winning concepts are now under review for potential licensing deals with toy and game companies. A complete list of YIC winners can be found here:


On Thursday and Friday before the Fair, more than 200 toy and game inventors and representatives from major global manufacturers came together for ChiTAG Week’s annual Innovation Conferences. Established and aspiring toy and game inventors shared knowledge, learned from and gained exposure to product acquisition companies who have the power to turn their dreams into realities.. During a joint keynote to conference attendees, Mattel's SVP of Inventor Relations and Head of Gaming, Gary Swisher, and Hasbro's Senior Director of Global Product Acquisition, Rich Mazel, shared the stage and discussed what unites their rival companies. According to Mazel, "We have a shared passion for innovation and new things that are fun. We are always supporting inventors.”


Mattel’s Gary Swisher took the stage again Friday night as the keynote speaker of ChiTAG’s  annual Toy and Game Innovation Awards (TAGIEs) that celebrate the best and brightest in the  industry. He told the crowd, "We’re here to celebrate play. If you are here, you’re here because of play. Play is the only reason humans still exist. Without play, we would have never progressed.”


Following the presentation of awards in categories such as Game and Toy Inventors of the Year, Rising Star of the Year and Marketing Team of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to two industry giants. Adi Golad, founder of Goliath Games credited integrity and honesty among the most important characteristics that lead to the success of his company, saying “we work closely with nearly every toy retailer in the world because they know what we say is what we do and what we do is what we say.” A second Lifetime Achievement Award went to prolific toy and game designer, Judy Blau of J. Hope Designs, who called her “amazing inventor friends” funny, kind and creative in a videotaped acceptance speech played after her grandson accepted the award on her behalf from the stage.  In an award that epitomizes the spirit of inventor advocacy core to the mission of ChiTAG, Lisa Giuli, president of Educational Insights, was honored for featuring her company’s inventors on product packaging. . A complete list of TAGIE winners can be found here:


Two of the evening’s winners were Olivia Wasilewski and Brynna Siewers who took home the TAGIE for Young Inventor of the Year. Olivia and Brynna are elementary school students whose game, Ship of Treasures, was discovered at ChiTAG last year, and is now sold at TARGET stores nationwide  The pair created an unexpected moment when they surprised fellow honoree, Lurie Children’s Hospital, with checks on behalf of themselves and Pressman Toy. The young game inventors memorialized a fellow elementary school classmate, Sophie Shields, who died earlier this year of cancer, by donating a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of their game. Their manufacturer, Pressman Toy, matched the donation. A complete listing of TAGIE Awards winners can be found here:


The ChiTAG 2018 and the 16th annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair will take place again next year, the weekend before Thanksgiving. All details will be released as they become available at



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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