2021 Toy & Game Int'l Excellence Awards - the TAGIEs
Celebrating Excellence Worldwide! The Must Attend Event of the Year!
Watch Highlights from 2020!
Move over Oscars, Emmys, CMA, the Toy & Game International Excellence Awards are taking the VIRTUAL center stage!
This is a must attend event to celebrate your fellow toy and industry colleagues at the 14th annual TAGIE Awards!
Tickets are FREE, you just need to RSVP!
Host a Watch Party with friends, colleagues and family! We will also be setting up 'tables' for the event so you can watch with your friends!
You cannot miss out on this annual toy industry event and now you can experience it from the comfort of your home and share the excitement with friends and family! Fantastic stunts, animations and solid gold entertainment are planned for this year to make the TAGIES better than ever! It’s a must “tune in” event where. Everyone is invited! Awards, funny stunts, and more!!
RSVP for your tickets today as they are going fast!
Thank you to our esteemed sponsors!
Lifetime Achievement Honorees
Exec Chairman of Mixed Dimensions, Venture Partner at Alsop-Louie VCand on the boards of, StoryWorld, WCEPS, Adjunct Professor Link, The Strong Museum, and Stiched Insights.
Tom joined Knowledge Universe at its founding in 1996 as president and CEO. From 1990-96, Tom was president and CEO of Sega of America, Inc. Under his leadership, the market value of Sega grew from under $2 billion to over $5 billion. The book Console Wars, by Blake Harris tells the story of how Nintendo had a 98% share of market in 1990, but was surpassed by Sega in 1993, under Tom’s leadership.
From 1987 to 1990, Tom served as president and CEO of Universal Matchbox Group, and was responsible for restructuring the company and returning it to profitability.
Before joining Universal Matchbox Group, Tom served as president and co-CEO of Mattel. Tom has been credited with reviving the Barbie business, building the Barbie and Hot Wheels brands, introducing He-Man Masters of the Universe, and developing the He-Man and She-Ra TV series. Full POP Profile HERE
Founder of Litzky Public Relations (LPR)
Everyone has a superpower. Michele's is her memory: people, places, things, great campaigns - and those not so great. When you've been doing what you love for more than 40 years, it's rewarding to be able to remember, celebrate, and share the memories.
She’s been a book publicist, media director for the Colgate Women’s Games and Ralston Purina Meow Off and part of the award-winning marketing team at L’eggs, the pantyhose brand launched in the 70s.
In the early 80s, she joined the toy industry. While at Griffin Bacal Advertising, she brought back GI Joe, launched evergreens like Transformers and My Little Pony, ran Mr. Potato Head for Mayor of Boise and wrote the charter for the first Hasbro Children’s Foundation. She opened her own agency in 1988 with one client – Matchbox Toys. It wasn’t long before other toy companies sought her expertise. Her client list became a ‘who’s who’ of industry leaders and iconic brands large and small whose stories deserved to be in the mainstream if not the spotlight.
Today, she’s no longer on the front line (with a few exceptions), with a new generation of storytellers under the stewardship of Josslynne Welch making headlines. Full POP Profile HERE
The Pressman Family
Accepted by Jim Pressman, Past President of The Pressman Toy Company
Founded in 1922 by Jack Pressman, Pressman Toys has been delighting families for decades with classic games such as Mastermind, Rummikub, Tri-Ominos and innovative licensed products! Lynn Pressman, Jack's wife, joined the company in 1947 and became President at Jack's passing in 1959. James Pressman, son of Jack and Lynn, took over as president in 1977. Jim sold the company in 2014 after 35 years of leading one of the most innovative and successful firms in the toy industry.
Many of their most successful product launches, many of which became #1 Best Sellers, happened under Jim's leadership. These iconic games included: Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, Rummikub, Tri-Ominos, Wheel of Fortune, Deal or No Deal, Double Dare, Gooey Louie, Hydro Strike, Fib Finder, Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaur, Let’s Go Fishin’ and Topple.. Pressman also manufactured and supplied classic games like Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, and Chinese Checkers (which the company introduced to the U.S. market).
Celebration of Life
Chairman and CEO, Hasbro
Rich Stoddart, Interim CEO, said “Since joining the Company more than two decades ago, Brian has been the heart and soul of Hasbro. As a charismatic and passionate leader in both the play and entertainment industries, Brian’s work brought joy and laughter to children and families around the world. His visionary leadership, kindness, and generosity made him beloved by the Hasbro community and everyone he touched. On behalf of the Hasbro family, we extend our deepest, heartfelt condolences to his wife, daughter, and entire family.”
Mr. Goldner, 58, joined Hasbro in 2000 and was quickly recognized as a visionary in the industry. He was appointed CEO in 2008 and became Chairman of the Board in 2015. He was instrumental in transforming the Company into a global play and entertainment leader, architecting a strategic Brand Blueprint to create the world’s best play and storytelling experiences. Through his tireless work ethic and unwavering focus, he expanded the Company beyond toys and games into television, movies, digital gaming and beyond, to ensure Hasbro’s iconic brands reached every consumer. The culmination of his pioneering strategy was the 2019 acquisition of independent entertainment studio eOne. Mr. Goldner served on the Board of Directors of ViacomCBS and was the Chair of the Compensation Committee. Mr. Goldner and his wife Barbara were passionate advocates for improving systems of care for vulnerable members of society.
Edward M. Philip, Lead Independent Director of Hasbro’s Board of Directors, said “Brian’s passing is a tremendous loss for Hasbro and the world. Brian was universally admired and respected in the industry, and throughout his over twenty years at Hasbro, his inspiring leadership and exuberance left an indelible mark on everything and everyone he touched. A mentor and friend to so many, his passion and creativity took Hasbro to new heights. Our love and thoughts are with his wife, daughter, and family during this extraordinarily sad time.”
Co-Founder Theora Design
Ora Coster is an Israeli game designer and co-founder along with Theo Coster, husband, of Theora Design. a family business which specializes in toys, games, crafts, and novelties. While a teenager Ora served in the Israeli Army during the 1948 Independence War, studied Stage Design in the UK, and became an art teacher, Theo was graduating from college, serving in the The Netherlands’ military and then became a printing apprentice. Af ter running his family’s printing house in Amsterdam for three years, he took a motored bicycle journey over 3,000 miles to Turkey, from where he sailed to Israel and met Ora in 1955. They were married two years later. Since 1965, Theora Design, founded in Tel Aviv, has created and licensed over 160 toy, game, craft and novelty concepts worldwide. In 1981 and 1993 respectively, Ora and Theo’s sons, Boaz and Gideon, joined the team, specializing in marketing and advanced technologies. Boaz’s wife Aliza Coster, (CPA) provides Theora with financial services. Sadl y we lost Ora in July of 2021. Full POP Profile HERE
Hassenfeld Family Initiatives Humanitarian Award
Chief Creation at Identity Games
Being inspired by the Toy industry, JM tries to use his creativity by looking at problems and solutions in different ways. Thinking as a kid will often give great insites.
Reading an article on how homeless people cost society enormous amounts of money and the help they were getting wasn’t actually helping the homeless off the street, JM had the idea to raise awareness to this problem by creating a TV documentary to try and help 5 homeless people while saving society money. “I feel that if you tell this problem to a kid, he would respond with, then why not just give them the money. And that’s exactly what we did.”
Together with the Salvation Army 5 homeless were selected and they were given a real chance! They each received € 10.000 and a book with the numbers of a group of coaches. By giving them the responsibility to spend the money as they please, they felt that they were given their pride back and each got a real desire to get their lives back on track. These 5 incredible people, with 5 incredible stories were able to make it off the streets and instead of costing society money, they are now contributing to society.
Game Changers of the Year - New Category!
Director of Business Development, PSI
Megan has been instrumental in finding, developing and helping to bring many incredible brands to life in the broader games marketplace. She has mightily impacted the sales and distribution of many of the biggest game IP’s in the market over the last 20 years. Megan is a true “coach” and has been incredibly helpful to many creators and publishers as they work to perfect their offering for the marketplace. The list of great games that Megan has been involved with would be exhausting to name (more than 40 items currently on store shelves in the mass were impacted by Megan).
In late 2020 Megan oversaw the very important launch of Boardgamegeek’s GeekGameShop which has brought joy to hundreds of thousands of gamer households. Megan also has worked to tirelessly to support inclusivity in our industry, and in 2020 she led an initiative to elevate marginalized and minority game and toy creators and companies, resulting in some incredibly new, interesting and inclusive play products to toy and game store shelves. Megan has brought us all a little closer together in a good way. Full POP Profile HERE
The Toy Coach Podcast Season II
Azhelle's been having way too much fun in the toy industry over the past 11 years working for companies like Toys R Us, Party City, and Madame Alexander, just to name a few! She's climbed up and across the ladder in the toy world, starting out as a designer, later gaining 3 toy patents and eventually becoming a VP at a toy company. After building and mentoring a diverse and talented team toward success, she had the vision to do the same with newcomers to the toy industry. Azhelle combined her industry knowledge, inspirational mantras, and extra passionate toy talks to create The Toy Coach Podcast: Making It In The Toy Industry. The Toy Coach Podcast is designed to demystify the toy industry for aspiring toy inventors and entrepreneurs. Each week touches on industry topics with encouragement, toyspiration and step-by-step advice. Listeners have credited the show with helping improve the marketability of their ideas, connect with toy agents, prep for toy trade shows, and above all else, clarify the next steps to make their toy or game idea real. Today Azhelle is known industry-wide as The Toy Coach. She joyfully works as a consultant for popular IP’s and toy companies of all sizes. Her online course, Toy Creators Academy empowers newbies in the toy industry with step-by-step guidance, downloadable worksheets, and group coaching. Full POP Profile HERE
Josslynne Welch and Litzky PR
President of Litzky PR
"The LOVE, Litzky Grant Program was created by Litzky PR as an impactful way to give back to the community in which the agency works and plays. As 2020 put a spotlight on various societal issues and important conversations, Litzky PR took a step back to consider how the agency could support the incredible work being done by changemakers in a meaningful way.
An acronym for Lifting Outstanding Voices & Endeavors, the LOVE, Litzky grant program was designed to assist companies whose mission is to better the lives of children and families. Each year, the program will focus on a specific and timely issue and provide an entrepreneur or small business with a campaign strategy and $25,000 in professional fees to execute it.
In its inaugural year, LOVE, Litzky is already proving to be a game changer. With so much discussion around inclusivity on many different levels, LPR recognized the important extension into play, making it the perfect topic to launch the program. The first recipient of a LOVE, Litzky grant became PunkinFutz, an award-winning inclusive play company and adaptive employer that makes play accessible for every child by using universal design to create original play products and accessories for children with a broad range of physical, sensory, developmental and emotional needs. Full POP Profile HERE
TAGIE Awards Host
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.
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.
President of The Michael Kohner Corporation
Michael, formerly of Kohner Bros., which was started by his father Paul and Paul's brother, Frank, is a prominent Licensing Agent in the game industry. The entire Kohner Family were recipients of the 2014 Lifetime Achievement at the TAGIES. Kohner Bros were industry pioneers famous for such classics as POP-O-MATIC TROUBLE and The BUSY BOX crib toy. Michael Kohner formed The Michael Kohner Corporation in 1975 working closely together with many inventors to bring their products to marketplaces worldwide. Some of the many games Michael has helped bring to the market are LOOPIN' LOUIE, MR. BUCKET, GIGGLE WIGGLE and DON'T PANIC.
Chief Wagon Office of Radio Flyer, the business founded by his grandfather in 1917. Radio Flyer is an iconic brand that holds a special place in people's hearts because it instantly transports them to a happy time — to the best parts of childhood. Robert works with a wonderful group of passionate "Flyers" whose mission is to create products that bring smiles to kids of all ages and to create warm memories that last a lifetime. Company sales have grown significantly as a result of Robert’s focus on building a highly committed and creative team. The product line has expanded beyond the iconic Little Red Wagon™ to include tricycles, scooters, and other ride-ons featuring innovative, beautiful, playful design. Robert is the Emmy winning producer of the animated short film, Taking Flight, and author of the national bestseller book, Radio Flyer: 100 Years of America’s Little Red Wagon.
Former Chairman of the Board and present Chairman of the Executive Committee of Hasbro.
Alan is a business leader with a passion for philanthropy. His far reaching impact has crossed local, regional, national and international borders. From the beginning of his career, he has been involved in literally hundreds of charitable and social causes. His enthusiasm and spirit has touched the lives of millions of people – and impacted communities across the world. Whether he is fighting for the human rights of manufacturing workers in Asia or coexistence in the Middle East, his energy and guidance always provide positive results. Alan believes in active leadership. Through his charitable work and foundation participation, he has the ability to stay involved in hundreds of community, social and political causes. These include primarily children’s issues, social responsibility, political reform, and social entrepreneurship. His goal is always to focus on what can be done better and what needs to be developed in order to establish foundations for future success. The goal of the family foundation is to be a catalyst for positive change and collaboration
Chief Executive Officer of Exploding Kittens, is a professional technologist and storyteller. Creator of Exploding Kittens and Throw Throw Burrito, his pioneering work in entertainment has spanned everything from multiple startups raising millions of dollars to creating the Alternate Reality Game genre. Elan started his career at the Microsoft Games Studio where he was a Lead Designer on the original Xbox. He next co-founded 42 Entertainment (the company behind I Love Bees, Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero, and The Dark Knight). Elan was also the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Fourth Wall Studios, and the Chief Design Officer at Xbox Entertainment Studios. Elan most recently co-created “Exploding Kittens”, the most funded game on Kickstarter, and the most backed crowd funded project in history.
Elan has spoken all over the world on the future of gaming and storytelling. He has won a Primetime Emmy for the series Dirty Work, and an IndieCade Trailblazer Award for a distinguished career in interactive entertainment.
He has been featured in WIRED Magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and the Wall Street Journal. He has also won awards for Best Web Game of the Year, Best Advertising Campaign of the Year, and Best Idea of the Year.
Senior Director, Inventor Relations and Strategic Partnerships, Mattel
Dave has been with Mattel for over 20 years and leads Inventor Relations across the entire Mattel portfolio including Fisher-Price, Barbie, Hot Wheels, Girls, Boys and Games. Most of his career has been spent in marketing working on FP categories such as Infant, Newborn, Baby Gear, Creative Activities, Power Wheels and New Opportunities. He also spent a couple years in Strategic Partnerships working with best in class education and tech partners and several years creating exclusive products for retailers.
Advisor, Prior: President of Alex Brands, ToysRUs, Mattel, Fisher-Price, Tyco Preschool
An icon of the toy industry who helped first popularize the pairing of technology and toys, Neil Friedman was president of the Mattel Brands division at Mattel, Inc. Friedman – a Toy Industry Hall of Famer and International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association’s (LIMA) Hall of Famer – oversees all of Mattel, Fisher-Price and Radica:® brands such as Barbie®, Hot Wheels® and Mattel Games, as well as toys licensed by the industry’s leading entertainment properties, such as Disney/Pixar’s CARS, Dora the Explorer™ and Sesame Workshop®.
As president of Fisher-Price Brands from 1999-2005, he oversaw the introduction of electronic learning toys that significantly grew the core Fisher-Price business. Today, Mr. Friedman continues to ensure that every Mattel toy is “magical” and delivers a “wow” to kids of all ages. Mr. Friedman joined Mattel in March 1997, following the merger between Tyco Toys, Inc. and Mattel. Prior to joining Tyco Preschool in 1995, he served as president of MCA/Universal Merchandising; senior vice president, marketing and operations, Just Toys; general manager, baby care division, Gerber Products; president, Aviva/Hasbro, Hasbro’s import division; and executive vice president and chief operating officer of Lionel Leisure/Kiddie City.
The Pressman Toy Company
Kate will be telling the story of the Pressman family’s nearly 100 years in the toy industry. Kate is the grand daughter of Jack Pressman and Lynn Pressman and daughter of Jim Pressman who collectively ran Pressman Toy Corporation for nearly 100 years. Kate has a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Relations from Boston University and now is now working as an Account Executive at the prestigious Bullfrog + Baum PR firm in New York City. She also has 24 years experience working for Pressman Toy as chief toy tester (as you can see she started really young).
Managing Partner at Volta Capital
John Barbour served as President of Leapfrog from 2011 to 2015. Prior to Leapfrog, he was President of the GameHouse Division of RealNetworks, Inc. from October 2008 to August 2010, where he led the business to profitability. From October 2006 to October 2008, Mr. Barbour served as the Managing Partner of Volta Capital, LLC, a strategy and investment consulting firm where he assisted clients with a wide variety of investment and strategic development engagements. From 1999 to June 2006, Mr. Barbour was employed by Toys "R" Us, Inc., a leading retailer of children's toys and products. He served as President, Toys "R" Us U.S. from August 2004 to June 2006, where he was responsible for $5.5 billion of retail sales through approximately 600 stores across the U.S. and built the private brands business to over $1 billion of annual sales. Prior to that, he served as President, Toys "R" Us International and Chairman, Toys "R" Us Japan from February 2002 to August 2004, achieving three years of record sales and earnings growth. From 1999 to 2002, Mr. Barbour served as President and Chief Executive Officer of toysrus.com, a subsidiary of Toys "R" Us, Inc., where he grew sales from $2 million in 1998 to $336 million in 2002. Mr. Barbour has also held senior level positions with Hasbro, Inc., Russ Berrie, Inc., and Universal Matchbox Group, Ltd. Full POP Profile Here . . .
Consultant, Prior: CEO & Chairman of Mattel
As president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Mattel Inc., Jill Barad was one of only four women to head a Fortune 1000 company. Barad was responsible for the boom in Barbie doll sales, which account for more than one-third of Mattel profits. She took part in management decisions that helped to revitalize the company after a corporate crisis in the mid-1980s.
Barad also worked with Amerman to make Mattel more than a doll company, with the acquisition of Fisher-Price, Inc. and Kransco (the Frisbee and Hula-Hoop manufacturer.) She also participated in negotiations for a product agreement with Walt Disney Co.
FATHER OF THE MODERN ACTION FIGURE
President of Mego Corporation
Mego was originally founded in 1954 by Dave Abrams, his son, Marty Abrams, now commonly known as “the father of action figures”, took the helm of the company in 1971 and shifted the direction to licensed action figures. He included the “World’s Greatest Super Hero’s “ line, celebrity dolls, and the Micronauts toy line. Mego became famous for their 8” scale figures with interchangeable bodies. Eventually this became an industry standard.
Mego Corporation re-launched in 2018 with a partnership between Marty Abrams and Joel Rosenzweig, focusing on 8” Action figures and launching with popular licenses from CBS, Warner Brothers, Sony and Epic.
Musical Entertainment - Toy Train Wreck
Matt Nuccio, Dan Klitsner, Caitlin Gutekunst and Darin Barri are getting the band back together wit a very special surprise cameo guest appearance!
Pre-Show Entertainment by Tim Walsh
Co-Founder, Roo Games; Filmmaker, Author, Designer, Creative Consultant, The Playmakers
Fearless Leader at The Playmakers and co-founder of Roo Games, a company specializing in games for the entire family. I've designed or co-designed TriBond, Blurt, Mad Gab, You’ve Been Framed, Bull’s Eye, Cheese Stack, N'Sync Backstage Pass, TMNT Foot Clan Street Fight, and many others. These games have collectively sold over 7 million copies.
I was Creative Consultant and co-editor on Toyland, a documentary on toy and game inventors from director, Ken Sons. The ﬁlm won Best Documentary awards at three US ﬁlm festivals. In 2016, I co-produced and co-directed OPERATION: Operation The Power of Play with Peggy Brown. The ﬁlm won the top prize for Best Film at the 2017 Naperville Independent Film Festival as well as Best Documentary.
As a speaker and lecturer, I am out to prove that PLAY is a means through which we can super-charge creativity and connect with others. I have spoken on this topic and others to teams as diverse as the USC’s Physical Sciences in Oncology Center, the State Bar of Arizona, Otis College of Art & Design and other creative organizations. Full POP Profile HERE
TAGIE Stunts Performed By...
Robert Victor, President of Kite and Rocket. Robert founded Kite and Rocket on the belief that the best way to attract world-class engineers is to create an extraordinary workspace and propose compelling challenges. Nearly a decade of activity in the toy industry has proven that to be true. Kite and Rocket is now expanding its inventive efforts to include products on the opposite end of the age spectrum as well, with a focus on mobility and home accessibility.
Attend the TAGIEs in 2021!
Don't miss out on an extraordinary evening!
Join us at the TAGIEs for an elegant and fun celebration of innovation and People of Play!
Watch the inventors, innovators and the toy & game industry behind your favorite toys and games!
Tickets are FREE - you just need to RSVP!
Thank You to our TAGIE Awards Event Committee
(not the same as the Nomination Committee)
Chair: Karri Bean - Senior Manager, Licensing at Disney Consumer Products, Experiences and Consumer Products
Peggy Brown - Inventor, Playwright, Designer, Author, Filmmaker, Funmaker
Richard Gill - Chief Explorer Monster, PlayMonster International
Dan Baxter - Product Manager, Learning Resources
Brent Rolland - Event Producer/DJ at Fig Media, Musician, Host/Producer: FANPOWER Game Shows
Tim Walsh - Co-Founder, Roo Games; Filmmaker, Author, Designer, Creative Consultant, The Playmakers
Harrison Brooks - CEO (Chief Elevator Officer) of ElevatorUp and Data and Content Manager at CHITAG/POP
Kaye White - President of Visual Playthings
Robert Victor - Founder, Kite and Rocket Research
Mary Couzin - President, Chicago Toy & Game Group