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2019 Toy & Game Innovation Awards, The TAGIEs

The Power of Magic in Innovation

November 22nd, 2019, 6pm - 10pm

Our 12th year! 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.

There is no bigger event in the world for toy and game inventors and innovators!

2019 TAGIEs Richard Dickson presenting o

Richard Dickson, President and COO of Mattel, presenting the original Brain Drain to Lifetime Achievement Honoree Ivan Moscovich

Thank You to Our 2019 Sponsors! 

2019 TAGIE Award logos for event program

2019 TAGIE Award Honorees and Nominees






Ryan Kratz and Gil Zalayet for Imaginext® DC Super Friends™ Transforming Batmobile™ RC Vehicle (Mattel)


G2 Inventions for Juno the Elephant (Spin Master)

KID Group and SweetSpot Studio for Demolition Duke (Spin Master)

 JMP Creative for Crayola Glitter Dots (Crayola) and for Foodie Roos (Maya)

Peggy Brown for Lunch Pets (Wicked Cool Toys) and My Buddy Wheels (Y-Volution)

Daryl Tearne for Owleez​ and​ Monster Jam Mega Grave Digger RC Truck​ (Spin Master​)

Bang Zoom for Pulp Heroes (Far Out Toys) and Mr Potato Head Lips Are Moving and Yellies (Hasbro)




Kane Klenko for Pandemic: Rapid Response (Z-Man Games), Cosmic Factory (Gigamic), Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Kraken (Minion Games), Proving Grounds (Renegade Game Studios), Slap It! (Renegade Game Studios)


Adam Borton for Oops Scoops (YULU)

Dominic Yard & Gil Zalayet for Freeze Fall (Goliath)

Rob Daviau, Bob Driscoll, Don Ullman, Steve Butcher for Heist (Megableu USA)

IDEO for Plumber Pants (Hasbro) and Pictionary Air (Mattel)

Kim Vandenbroucke (The Brainy Chick) and Andrea Sambati (Memento) for Peeing Pup (Hasbro)


Pat Marino for Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist Board Game; Court of the Dead: Mourners Call Board Game; Talisman: Batman - Super Villains Edition; Harry Potter: Death Eaters Rising; Star Wars: Dark Side Rising with USAopoly/The Op



Ellie Skalla for Galactiquest (Goliath)


Gimena Servin for Husks (Ribbiting Games)

Edie Placenza for Goo on My Shoe (PlayMonster)

Tiggy Sliwinski for Draw Into Crime (PlayMonster)

Joseph Howard for FLING! The Flyin Disc (Grip Toys)

Harper Miller for The Dreamimals™ (The Dream Pillow™)

Samaira Mehta, Aadit Mehta -(CoderMindz) The World's First Ever Board Game that teaches Artificial Intelligence (AI) Concepts





Urtis Šulinskas for Planet ​(​Blue Orange)​ and​ Pigasus​ (Brain Games)


Joe Barron for Wolf (Gray Matters Games)

Nir Doron and Gilad Podgor for Candylocks (Spin Master)

Sjaak Griffioen, M. Oskar Van Deventer and Wei-Hwa Huang for Marble Circuit (MindWare)

Mike Szalajko & Alex Mackey for What The Film?! and Camping with Sasquatch (Lethal Chicken Games)

Disconifty for Boxy Girls (Jay at Play), Rescue Runts, Funlockets and Shimmer Stars (KD Kids), Twisty (Spin Master) and SuperDeker







Christian Castro (What Do You Meme?) for New Phone Who Dis? (What Do You Meme)


Andreas Hoenigschmid  (GeoBender) for Shashibo (Fun In Motion Toys)

Luis Diaz (Idea Monster) for Chuckle & Roar line of games, puzzles, and toys (Buffalo Games)

Jessica Livingston, Vanessa Wilson, Johnlee Raine, Dave Sarrafo & team for Hatchimals Pixies (Spin Master)

Carol Rouillard, Maria McLane, Tamara Allegra-Smith, Todd Brainard, Pete Thomas, Kyle Nicholson (Hoyle) for Super Me, Monkey, May I? (Hoyle)

Matt Nuccio and Chris Nuccio (Design Edge) for The Artsbot- Arts & Craft Kits

Prospero Hall for Trapper Keeper Game (Big G Creative)



LEGO Marvel Team for  LEGO Marvel Avengers End Game Construction Sets by LEGO Campaign


Microduino for Itty Bitty Buggy and IdeaLab for kids - Everyone is an Inventor 

LEGO Disney Girls Team for LEGO Aladdin Explore the World Together Campaign

The OP Marketing Team a rebrand (from USAopoly) and over 20+ product launches.

Freeman PR for PLAYMOBIL's Mars Space Station,  YULU's SNAPSTAR's and Zing's HyperStrike campaigns

Egils Grasmanis, Anna Peipina, Liga Lugovija (Brain Games Marketing Team) for Win a Trip to Antarctica (Brain Games)

Keeley Tobin, Nikki Kennamer, Kristina Timmins, Crystal Flynn, Allison MacIntire and Sarah Madey (Hasbro) for Yellies (Hasbro)








Exploding Kittens for Throw Throw Burrito Kickstarter


The Grommet for Empowering Inventors and Makers 

Building Blocks for Supporting Inventors and Community Involvement

Mastermind for Amazing Demos and Try Me Features at their Retail Stores 

Target for their “Cartwheel” app, Story-telling on the Sales Floor and “Flex Fulfill” Options

Camp, The Family Experience Store for Combining Play and Product Throughout its Stores

Wonder Works for interactive play and free annual family events Wonderfest and Elfstravaganza

TAGIE Awards Nominee Seal - SILVER GAME
TAGIE Awards Nominee Seal - SILVER INNOV
TAGIE Awards NomineeSeal - SILVER INNOVA
TAGIE Awards Nominee Seal - SILVER TOY I
TAGIE Awards Nominee Seal - SILVER YOUNG
TAGIE Awards Winner Seal - SILVER RISING
TAGIE Awards Nominee Seal - SILVER INNOV

Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Ivan and Anitta Moscovich in front of fl

Ivan Moscovich "is known by many descriptors—a survivor, an inventor, an artist, and an inspiration, to name a few. When I talk to many who know Ivan, however, a friend is how they describe him most fondly, with a smile. Ivan has led a remarkable life. While only a teenager, he was taken from his home in Yugoslavia and imprisoned in five concentration camps—including Auschwitz—where he faced unbelievable physical hardships and unimaginable emotional strife, which, despite Ivan’s will to persevere, have tormented him throughout the years that followed his liberation. He acknowledges in his published memoir, The Puzzleman, that creativity gave him the drive to escape and survive exceptional challenges. Since hitting the big time in the toy industry, this self-titled workaholic has released a brilliant repertoire of inventive products and has worked with well over 100 international toy, game, and publishing companies. In total, Ivan has licensed 111 puzzles, toys, and games, and he has written 69 books—many of them bestsellers. What’s most enjoyable to see is how kids and adults equally are enlightened and engaged by Ivan’s perplexing and luminous inventions and puzzle challenges." (Lisa Guili's interview with Ivan

Hassenfeld Family Initiatives Humanitarian Award 

This year we are recognizing companies working to make our world a better place for our children! 

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The Toy Movement is a Spin Master led initiative with a mission to create a movement that delivers inspiration, imagination, and joy to children around the world, regardless of circumstances. By working together with committed partners within the children’s entertainment industry, third-party logistics providers, and various levels of government, The Toy Movement has wrapped and delivered over 350,000 toys to children worldwide.

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Hasbro plans to begin phasing out plastic from new product packaging and eliminate virtually all plastic in packaging by the end of 2022. “Removing plastic from our packaging is the latest advancement in our more than decade-long journey to create a more sustainable future for our business and our world,” said Brian Goldner, Chairman and CEO, “We have an experienced, cross-functional team in place to manage the complexity of this undertaking and will look to actively engage employees, customers, and partners as we continue to innovate and drive progress as a leader in sustainability.”

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Disney has a long-standing commitment of delivering comfort and inspiration to families facing serious illness that dates back to the early days of Walt Disney himself. The company continues that legacy today through the work of Disney Team of Heroes, which includes Disney’s efforts in children’s hospitals and wish-granting. One of the ways Disney helps to reimagine the children’s hospital experience is through its annual Disney Toy Delivery program, which provides a year’s worth of toys, books, movies and comics to nearly 450 children’s hospitals across North America. Learn more at

TAGIE Awards Host

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Our host of the evening is Karri Bean, Senior Licensing Manager, Disney Parks Experiences & Products, located in Glendale, CA, for the past five years where she is responsible for managing Disney’s global construction category across key brands such as Star Wars, Marvel and Frozen. Karri comes with more than 10 years of experience in the toy industry, previously in global brand management creating unique and exciting products in the games category at Hasbro and Spin Master.

TAGIE Awards Keynote

Richard Dickson, President & COO at Matt

TAGIE Awards Introduction to Keynote


Ed Duncan serves as Senior Vice President of Design at Mattel, with
responsibility for Action Figures, Games, and Plush design, as well as
overseeing Mattel’s Inventor Relations team. Prior to Ed joining Mattel, he
led design for Takara-Tomy’s efforts outside of Japan, had several jobs on
Disney Consumer Products’ Toys team, and worked as a designer or design
lead at Fisher-Price and Hasbro.

2019 TAGIE Presenters

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Tim Walsh speaking nice shot from

Kimberley Mosley,  President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Kim leads the trade association that promotes and strengthens the specialty segment of the toy industry. ASTRA is the largest association serving the specialty toy industry, a community that is committed to providing children with healthy, quality play materials that have high play value. ASTRA’S 1900 members are manufacturers, sales representatives and independent retailers who build their businesses around toys that focus less on the razzmatazz features of the toy, and more on what the child can do with the toy by using her imagination and creativity. Specialty toys are about the features of the play, not the features of the toy.

Leslie Scott is Founder of Oxford Games, inventor of Jenga and much more! To mention just a few things she is noted for: prolific board game designer, founder trustee of The Smithsonian UK Charitable Trust, speaking Swahili and author best known as the inventor of the game Jenga, which she launched at the London Toy Fair 1983. Born in Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and grew up in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Ghana. Scott was educated in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Oxford. In 1991, she founded Oxford Games Ltd, which her daughter Freddie is now proudly President. 

Rachel H. Griffin, VP Public Relations at Jakks Pacific

a corporate communications, brand public relations, digital and social media leader with over 15 years of award-winning excellence in implementing and negotiating strategic marketing promotions.  Griffin currently spearheads JAKKS Pacific’s communication and social media strategy efforts working closely with marketing, design, and sales teams to identify PR opportunities. 

Tanya Thompson, Director Global Product Acquisition Gaming, Hasbro 

Tanya has also worked in similar roles for Marbles the Brain Store , Mastermind Toys and ThinkFun. Tanya believes in changing the world through PLAY! She is honored to be on the Executive Board of the Chicago Toy and Game Group as well as on the boards of HATCH (community of creative thought leaders collaborating on HATCHing a better world) and SNAP Mathematics Foundation (an organization bringing math puzzles to life in the classroom).

Josh West is currently the Head of Product Design and Inventor Relations for Thinkfun, now a part of Ravensburger North America. He has been designing toys and games professionally for over fifteen years, and playing with them for almost forty.

Josh is thrilled to be back at CHITAG in the company of such creative inventors and is looking forward to finding the next great concept!

Robert "Bob" Fuhrer is an award-winning toy and game developer. Since 1981, his company, Nextoy, has developed hundreds of products, including Crocodile Dentist, Gator Golf, iTop and the internationally acclaimed KenKen Puzzle.  Bob is best known for helping inventors and Japanese toy companies bring product to market, and for collaborating with the worldwide creative community.    His dad Len Fuhrer and brother David have both had impressive careers in the toy world, and now his son Alex has joined the Nextoy family! Bob is an active philanthropist, and currently sits on the boards of Make-A-Wish and Evan's Team. He and his wife Judy live in New York and are proud parents of three grown children.

Lisa Guili, General Manager of Educational Insights. 

Lisa not only has a sharp eye for talent and good ideas, but has always been a strong champion of the inventors with whom she works. She is the mastermind behind the company’s initiative to include the game or toy inventor’s name, photo and bio on packaging and in all aspects of the company’s marketing. It’s an idea that has strengthened Educational Insights’ connection to the inventors they work with, helping boost their profiles in both the professional and public spheres. In the span of her 25+ years in the industry, Lisa has helped bring more than 100 inventor-driven products to shelves throughout the world. Among them are Robot Face Race™, BrainBolt™, Word on the Street®, Blurt!®, and the GeoSafari® Jr. Talking Microscope, featuring celebrity Bindi Irwin on voiceover.

Tim Walsh, Fearless Leader at The Playmakers

Tim is a game designer, author, filmmaker and professional speaker. The games he’s designed or co-designed have sold over seven million copies. His books have been praised by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and NPR. The films he’s co-produced or co-directed have won “Best Documentary” awards in three US film festivals. His lectures on the value of play and connection are the culmination of a 28-year career as an entrePLAYneur. He and his wife have been married for 23 years and have two epic daughters. 

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Alicia Alexander Klitsner is Director of  CHITAG's Young Inventor Challenge. She has been a long-time advocate of children and developing innovative ways for children to learn and is the Communications Officer at Larkspur-Corte Madera School District in California. 

She is currently working to expand the Young Inventor Challenge, our contest encouraging kids ages 6-18 to invent their own original toy or game.  Alicia has a BS in Elementary Education, Special Education from Vanderbilt University and a MA in Elementary Education and Language Development from New York University. 

David Yakos, President of Salient Technologies. David is a full-time inventor, designer, artist & engineer.  Named Toy-Innovator-of-the-Year 2016, he invented ThinkFun’s Circuit Maze & Lionel Mega Tracks - both TOTY 2017 finalists. He is co-founder of the engineering firm, Salient Technologies, Inc. and the invention house, Streamline Design. Along with the help of his creative team, David develops and invents hundreds of products from cryogenic space valves for NASA to playful games, like Hasbro’s Dunk Hat. David lives with his wife, Kari, their four kids and assorted pets in beautiful Bozeman, Montana.

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Ben Dermer, SVP Creative Development, Deputy Creative Officer, Spin Master. An 18-year veteran of the company, Ben oversees the areas of innovation, new product development, and inventor relations, managing the sourcing, acquisition and development of new toy ideas. He has a special connection to product, having had over 100,000 toy inventions presented to him in his career, and works very closely with the internal innovation teams and outside partners to select and direct some of the company’s most technically ambitious development projects, such as Luvabella, Bakugan, Hatchimals and Zoomer. Together with Ben Varadi, he helps guide the company’s creative vision in the areas of product selection, brand direction, positioning, play pattern, and advanced technical product development, across all brands. Ben holds a BFA from York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, Winters College.

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Kenneth Ebeling, Executive vice president, strategic development & member services at The Toy Association. As executive vice president of strategic development & member services, Ken is responsible for developing and executing strategies that will create and deliver enhanced value propositions to Toy Association members. He leads engagement with members so that the Association can best meet the needs of each of the diverse constituencies that the organization serves.

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Richard Gill,  VP International at PlayMonster. Richard Gill, brings over 30 years of experience to ChiTag and his recent new role as VP International at PlayMonster Prior to joining the PlayMonster team, Gill successfully co-owned and managed McGill Assocs., an international sales and marketing consultancy, for nearly 20 years. With products placed in over 50 markets worldwide, McGill Assocs. provides instant international development function to small- to medium-sized toy industry clients looking for international partners, licensees or distributors. Born in the United Kingdom, but living primarily in the US since 1993, Emmy-nominated Richard Gill was responsible for overseeing the phenomenal international successes of both Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary for 15 years, before the sale of the Pictionary business in 2001. With a background in packaging and
commercial development Richard enjoys helping new entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life at the CHITAG events!

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Gary Swisher is EVP of Design at Spin Master. Gary started his toy career working on a favorite from his childhood, “Hot Wheels” and “played” with that brand for 16 years. He left Mattel and went to the wild and crazy world of Jakks Pacific where he and his Marketing partner Jamie Wood built the Road Champs line into an Xtreme sports mecca. He and Jamie then started Best Pals, where he got to use every last ounce of his Design skills to create a broad line of toys, led by a Six Flags Roller Coaster and a Big Foot Monster truck or two! In 2005 Mattel bought their assets, and brought them both back in. Gary then had the good fortune of working under Richie Weintraub, an industry icon who taught him about being a good Design leader. When Richie retired, Tim Kilpin gave Gary the chance to lead Creative for all of Boys, Girls and Games at Mattel. He also helped integrate MEGA Bloxs into the Mattel family, ran Games under Susie Lecker, and ran Inventor relations. Gary has now started a new chapter at the most innovative toy company in the world, Spin Master, he is the global leader of the Design and Visual Branding teams working under Ben Varadi.

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Nick Metzler is Incubation and New Business Specialist + Game Designer - Games at Spin Master. Nick got his start in the industry 9 years ago as a contestant in ChiTAG’s Young Inventor Challenge. After back-to-back wins, his second entry was picked up by PlaSmart, making Squashed his first game on the market. After brief stints working on Survivor and gamifying theme park rides, he landed at Spin Master where he's been for just under 5 years. Following a win at last year's TAGIE's as Rising Star, Nick is focused on innovating Spin Master's game portfolio to take them into exciting new sectors of the board game market.

Evening Entertainment

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Exploding Kittens is bringing a taste of Burning Cat, THE card gaming, tabletop playing, pop-culture event of 2020, to the TAGIEs!  Play a round of Throw Throw Burrito, the world's first dodgeball card game in a VERY fragile "dining room".  Things WILL break.

2019 TAGIEs Karri Bean in bathrobe with

Robert Victor and his team from Kite and Rocket blasted a 10 foot tall NERF Rocket - the World's Largest Kid Powered Rocket - from the stage over the heads of attendees with a crash landing in the back of the Grand Ballroom!


No one was hurt, nothing was broken and everyone had loads of fun! 

Watch the video of how the rocket came to be HERE! 

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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.

Jay Horowitz on the piano during cocktails! 

You may have read about Jay and his family recently in TTPM's All in the Family Series

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Mark Setteducati will be performing magic during cocktails! 

Mark is a magician and inventor of magic, illusions, games and puzzles. He is also an author, known for the book, The Magic Show and featured on PBS Inventors. Recently Mark co-founded He'ron Elite a lighting company, and MeMuseum a company producing magic exhibits.

(left) John Railing will be performing magic during cocktails! Considered one of the country’s top close-up magicians, John performs for an impressive roster of celebrities, entertainers, and leading corporate executives, including  U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries, and heads of state from around the world.  John co-wrote and produced a series of top-selling magic sets called The Ultimate Magic Club for Scholastic. 

(right) Max Tempkin will be performing magic during cocktails! Max is a designer and magician from Chicago, Il. He is best known as a co-creator of the party game Cards Against Humanity.

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Pictures from 2019 TAGIEs, More to Come 

Attend the TAGIEs in 2019!

Don't miss out on an extraordinary evening! Join us at the TAGIEs for  an elegant celebration of innovation and People of Play!

Meet inventors, innovators and the toy & game industry behind your favorite toys and games!

Friday, November 22nd, 2019
6pm Cocktails, 
7pm Dinner & Ceremony
10pm Evening Concludes
Navy Pier Grand Ballroom, Formal or Cocktail Attire
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