2018 Toy and Game Holiday Gift Guide & the People that Invented Them

2018 Toy and Game Holiday Gift Guide &

the People that Invented Them

In honor of our Toy & Game Innovation Award Finalists and the holidays being right around the corner, we put together the BEST 33 TOYS & GAMES straight from #ChiTAG. Below are the nominee inventors and their respective toy and game inventions. Which include some of the hottest toys and games on the market! Experience and test out some of these toys and games in person at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair November 18-19. Not to mention knock out all your holiday shopping! So grab your tickets before it’s too late. Happy Holidays and we can’t wait to see you at ChiTAG!

Now let’s hear from our Inventor nominees and where you can get their toys and games. Happy shopping!

TOY INNOVATORS OF THE YEAR

Bang Zoom - Lil’ Gleemerz for Mattel

Bang Zoom Design Ltd. is a Cincinnati-based product invention company. They develop big ideas and turn them into marketable businesses. With an emphasis on the toy industry, we have licensed over 250 inventions.

Other recent products for 2018: Imaginext Jurassic World T-Rex (Fisher Price), Treasure X (Moose), Hairdorables (Just Play), Hot Diggity Dance & Play Mickey (Just Play), Minnie Mouse Helper Scooter Plush (Just Play), Little Live Pets Surprise Dragon (Moose), Little Live Pets Rollie My Kissing Puppy (Moose), Jurassic World Gyrosphere RC (Mattel), Handimonium Game (Mattel), Yelllies! (Hasbro), Barbie Dreamtopia Flying Wings Fairy (Mattel), Barbie On The Go (Mattel)

Collaborators for Lil' Gleemerz:

Helen Delacruz

Wendy Duplantier

Natasha Berling

Ethan Wood

SG Labs

Get Lil’ Gleemerz here!

David Fuhrer, Richard Kimbrough, and DiscoNifty - Twisty Petz for Spin Master

David Fuhrer has licensed more than 300 toys, games and household products generating retail sales over $1 billion including iconic toys such as Nerf Vortex Football and Aqua Doodle. Fuhrer holds the Guinness book record for Fastest Backwards Talker and has appeared on The Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and more.

Richard Kimbrough is an accomplished artist and inventor. He has been creating toys for more than 30 years including hit products such as Charmkins and Bow Biters.

DiscoNifty is a Toronto based company founded by Rob Schuyler staying focused on Product Development and Marketing, DiscoNifty also invents the occasional toy.

Collaborators: Catherine Demas Talal Saleh Ben Varadi Amy Wolff Mina Mirkazemi Daniel Rodstein Spin Master Products from the past year: Aqua Doodle Nerf Vortex Football

Get Twisty Petz here!

Latham Gaines - Power Dough for Canal Toys

Latham was born with a sense of play. As a pro snowboarder turned actor, the leap into toy inventing 10 years ago was a natural one. With his partner, Laura, he established Opi and Me, LLC in hopes of bringing more innovation, fun and laughter into the world. So far, it’s been an amazing ride with licenses, collaborations with major toy companies and products on the shelves. Thanks to all the partners that have made this creative life possible. Fun fact: It’s in his blood - Latham’s father, Charles, is one of the inventors of Paintball.

Collaborators:

Howard Fleischer - Royalty Pros Licensing

Aurelie AJZENBERG - Canal France

Bill Uzell - Canal USA

Angela Achtner - Canal USA

Alexander Putzschke - Canal France

Products from the past year:

Croc N Roll - Spin Master Toys

Water Water Island - KD Group

Power Dough - Canal Toys

Get Power Dough here!

Shoot The Moon - Wrapples for Moose Toys and NERF Laser Ops

2018 is going to be a great year for the prolific invention house Shoot the Moon. The development team has really delivered this year! They are very excited about their product line and their business partners are doing a great job developing and promoting the products. Their professional team of fun inventors have quite the product portfolio, which include Hatchimals, Little Live and Laser Tag!

Products from the past year:

Hasbro – Nerf Laser Ops

SpinMaster – Hatchimal Baby

Moose – Little Live Wrapples, Little Live Cutie Pup, Little Live Dancing Unicorn, Little Live Busy Bubs, Real Robots MiBro, Real Robots Yak Bot

Crayola – Scribble Scrubbies

Get Little Live Wrapples here!

Sydney Wiseman - Fingerlings for WowWee

Sydney Wiseman is a key Brand Manager for WowWee, and the creator of the award-winning Fingerlings toy line, among other inventions at the company. She plays a significant role in the development, play spec and marketing strategy of new WowWee consumer product. Sydney’s day is spent contributing to and integrating cutting edge R&D and making it viable and marketable for sales. Her creativity and love for innovative products, coupled with her practical experience in the Toy Industry contribute to WowWee's product ideation and improvement, as well as reaching the consumer across different markets. Sydney graduated with honours from McGill University in 2011 and won the prestigious Creator of the Year award from Woman In Toys (WIT) in 2018.

Collaborators:

Davin Sufer

Benny Dongarra

Adam Fairless

Get Fingerlings here!

GAME INNOVATORS OF THE YEAR

Bang Zoom - Chow Crown for Hasbro

Bang Zoom Design Ltd. is a Cincinnati-based product invention company. They develop big ideas and turn them into marketable businesses. With an emphasis on the toy industry, they have licensed over 250 inventions.

Collaborators for Chow Crown:

Tanya Thompson

Jonathan Berkowitz

Brian Wilk

Scott Dean

Nikki Kennamer

Nora O'Connor

Ed Gartin

Tony Langone

Products from the past year:

Other recent products for 2018: Imaginext Jurassic World T-Rex (Fisher Price), Treasure X (Moose), Hairdorables (Just Play), Hot Diggity Dance & Play Mickey (Just Play), Minnie Mouse Helper Scooter Plush (Just Play), Little Live Pets Surprise Dragon (Moose), Little Live Pets Rollie My Kissing Puppy (Moose), Jurassic World Gyrosphere RC (Mattel), Handimonium Game (Mattel), Yelllies! (Hasbro), Barbie Dreamtopia Flying Wings Fairy (Mattel), Barbie On The Go (Mattel)

Get Chow Crown here!

Don Ullman and Bob Driscoll - Don’t Step In It for Hasbro

Don Ullman has been inventing for over 20 years and, according to his wife Anne of 30 years, is still very much a child. Inspired by his two musical children, Don is learning to play the piano. Other products from Don include last year’s TAGIE winner Soggy Doggy, Pimple Pete, Loaded Lemons, Disney DuckTales Shake Your Tail Game, Hamster Race, and Alien Invasion.

Bob started his career with Hasbro, where he worked with many great individuals on game design and development. He also had the opportunity to work with terrific outside inventors on Hasbro licensed games. This provided him with an invaluable education in game design. And, fortunately, Hasbro also gave him the opportunity to do some internal inventing, where he invented games like Scrabble Flash. After leaving Hasbro in 2012 to pursue inventing and consulting, he met Don Ullman and the inventing part of his career really took off. And, they’ve had some great success in placing concepts over the last few years.

Collaborators:

Tanya Thompson

Rich Mazel

Jonathan Berkowitz

Brian Wilke

Products from the past year:

Pimple Pete

Loaded Lemons

Disney DuckTales Shake Your Tail Game

Hamster Race

L'embroilleur

Alien Invasion

Get Don’t Step In It here!

Jeff Foxworthy - Relative Insanity for PlayMonster

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy has a lot of accomplishments under his belt…things like books, Grammy nominations, TV shows, a great pair of jeans…but he holds nothing dearer to his heart than he does his big, loud family. And family is the inspiration for much of his comedy, which has been making people laugh for over 30 years! He decided to create Relative Insanity to offer a hilarious game his family, and others, could play and laugh at the innuendo without being offended. His large family was his test group on Thanksgiving, and Foxworthy recalls, “We laughed until we cried and a few people might have even peed... just a little bit.”

Get Relative Insanity here!

Rob Daviau and Justin D. Jacobson - Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar for Restoration Games

Restoration Games was founded in 2016 by Rob Daviau and Justin Jacobson to modernize and bring back out-of-print mass-market games from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, because "Every game deserves another turn.”

Collaborators:

Longshore, Ltd. (manufacturer)

Design Innovation Inc. (island design consultation)

Products from the past year:

Dinosaur Tea Party

Downforce: Danger Circuit

Fireball Island: The Last Adventurer

Get Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar here!

Seven Towns - Greedy Granny for Goliath Games

Seven Towns was founded in 1963 by the late Tom Kremer. Over our 50 years within the industry, Our toy loving team have created and represented many iconic best selling toys and games including, The Rubik’s Cube, Junior Monopoly, Sectors, Boglins, Doh-Nutters, Pig Goes Pop, Lottie Karoti and Silly Sausage. Our inspiration is the world around us and, whilst we all have our favourites, we try to develop new concepts across the full range of toy and game categories every year.These include games, craft activities, pre-school products, dolls, vehicles, action figures and outdoor/sports items.

Collaborators:

Goliath and Tomy

Products from the past year:

Uh Oh Hippo (Educational Insights)

Pack Your Bags(Asmodee)

Triple Cross by Winning Moves US

Get Greedy Granny here!

YOUNG INVENTORS OF THE YEAR

Ethan Klein - 3duxdesign House Architecture Set

Ethan and his sister Ayana grew up with a simple rule, "gifts come from your heart and your hands, not a store". Transforming cardboard and recycled materials into forts, parking garages, cars and characters is in his blood. Incorporating this with his passion for 3D modeling, he and Ayana were inspired to create an educational toy that blends art and open ended creative play with STEM learning. When he is not in the workshop crafting his own guitars and skateboards (or in high school), Ethan can be found working with children, inspiring them to become thinkers, makers and innovators.

Collaborators:

Ayana Klein

Marci Klein

Get the 3duxdesign House Architecture Set here!

Harper Miller - The Dream Pillow

Dreamt up by a 7-year old, The Dream Pillow™ is a new must have stuffed plush for children to help dream good dreams! This bedtime essential, created and developed by kidprenuer, Harper Miller, promotes positive thinking and visualization at an early age, while allowing kids to dream up silly adventures and flex their imaginations. Each night, children are inspired to write down their hopes, dreams, and aspirations on a Dream Pillow Wish Note, place the wish note into their Dream Pillow, and explore their wildest dreams while enjoying a restful night's sleep. Like a favorite stuffed animal, kids will love cuddling up with their plush Dream Pillow every night!

Get The Dream Pillow here!

Michael Nixon - The Amazing Annoyatron

Michael Nixon is a 15 year old high school student, product designer, software developer and advocate for STEM education. He is the founder of EduKits International and inventor of “The Amazing Annoyatron”. Highlights for The Amazing Annoyatron have included receipt of a AIIA iAward recognising innovation in the Australian digital ecosystem and being featured as a Top 10 toy of 2018 in the Australian media. Since launch the product has sold from the website edukits.co to end users in over 10 countries along with recent placement in an Australian retail chain of 60+ stores.

Get The Amazing Annoyatron here!

RISING STAR INNOVATORS OF THE YEAR

Adam Borton - Flushin’ Frenzy for Mattel

Adam Borton started Creating Unique Toys Ltd. in 2014 after working in the toy industry for the previous 4 years as a toy designer at companies such as Little Tikes. Since starting his company, he has designed toys and games for Hasbro, won Hasbro's Emerging Inventor of the Year award and has been featured by the BBC and Forbes. This year Mattel have released his game invention Flushin' Frenzy, which has been TV promoted on the Disney and Nickelodeon channels, has over 6 million hits on Youtube and has reached the Top 10 best selling Games on amazon.com.

Get Flushin’ Frenzy here!

Daryl Andrews - The Oregon Trail for Pressman Toy/Goliath

Daryl Andrews is a freelance game designer and developer, who began designing in 2013 and went full-time in 2015. With 28 board games already released through 20 different publishers, Daryl’s output has been unrivaled over the last few years. Beyond design, Mr. Andrews has also worked as a consultant for a variety of gaming companies with a special focus on popular licenses, including Back To The Future, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, the NHL, Oregon Trail and more. Currently, Daryl serves as the President & Co-Founder for a start-up game publishing company called MAPLE Games, a company created to bring high quality, family friendly games to market. Maple’s first game, Dragon Boats of the Four Seas, designed by Michael Schacht (Coloretto, Zooloretto) is scheduled to launch on Kickstarter on Oct 2, 2018. More games are scheduled to release over the next year by a variety of new and accomplished designers like Alan Moon, Bobby West, Rob Daviau, and the Bamboozle Brothers.

Products from the past year:

Sagrada & Expansion (Floodgate Games)

City of Gears (Grey Fox)

Before the Earth Explodes (Green Couch)

Ghostbusters: The Card Game (Albino Dragon + Renegade)

Outpost: Amazon (IDW Games)

Creatures and Cupcakes (Grey Fox)

Speakeasy Blues (Artana)

Roar: King of the Pride (IDW Games)

Ink Monsters (Albino Dragon)

Jungle Joust (IDW Games)

Space Invaders Dice (TurnOne)

Shop N Time (Mercury)

Orphan Black: Clone Club (IDW Games).

Get The Oregon Trail here!

Jeff Lai - Maki Stack for Blue Orange

Jeff is the lead designer at KEJI, a toy and game studio passionate for creation and play. His first toy invention was a sleepytime night-light friend named Brobo, introduced in 2011 at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. Together with KEJI co-founder Kim Blair, they have since been developing board games for publishers like Cryptozoic, Smirk and Dagger, Blue Orange, Outset Media, and North Star Games. This year, 4 of his game designs will hit the market, with another 5 games being released in 2019. Jeff enjoys cheap beer, long plane rides, anime, and Christian theology audiobooks.

Collaborators:

Kim Blair at KEJI

Thierry Denoual at Blue Orange

Curt Covert at Smirk & Dagger

Jean Paul Teskey at Outset Media

Products from the past year:

Nut So Fast (Smirk and Dagger)

How Do You Doodle? (Outset Media)

Draconis Invasion (Keji Inc)

Woo Boo (Outset Media)

Get Maki Stack here!

Art, Joe, and Jim Seymour - Circuit Blox, Power Blox, & Story Blox for E-Blox

Art Seymour studied electrical engineering at Christian Brothers University and earned his master’s degree at IIT. Art started his career in the color TV business at Motorola and Zenith, then founded Elenco Electronics where, as President for 44 years, he built it to a $30 million company, including being the patent author for Snap CircuitsTM. Joe Seymour earned a B.S. Computer Information Systems degree at Purdue University, then worked alongside Art for 21 years as VP and Director of IT for Elenco Electronics, Inc., where he was responsible for the strategic direction of the company's information technology infrastructure and operations, and e-commerce initiatives. Jim Seymour earned his BSEE, MSEE and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue University. Jim spent 22 years in the wireless industry working for AT&T, Lucent, Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco, and was awarded the Bell Labs fellowship in 2006, before joining Art & Joe at Elenco Electronics as VP and Director of new technology. Art, Joe and Jim founded E-Blox in 2016 with the vision to revolutionize the construction toy industry with the next generation of educational toys that teach the fundamentals of STEM, STEAM and STREAM through electronics.

Collaborators:

Brian Johnson

Mark Ditzig

Jenny Seymour

Marsha Seymour

Myra Webster

Allen Gerber

Get Circuit Blox, Power Blox, & Story Blox for E-Blox here!

Jillian Lakritz - Yoee Baby Original Line

Jillian Lakritz is a patent-holding toy inventor and entrepreneur. She founded Yoee Baby as a new mom after recognizing a gap in the marketplace for baby toys designed for playing together from Day One. Having spent her career developing new products for some of the country’s leading brands, she knew this was a problem she had to solve. Jillian is the founding member and Chair of the Denver Chapter of Women in Toys and sits on the Innovation Council for the American Specialty Toy Retailers Association. She is a graduate of University of Colorado – Boulder, where she received her MBA in Marketing & Entrepreneurship.

Collaborators:

Bill Donavan, Chief Creative Officer

Products from the past year:

Yoee Baby Original Line: Puppy, Kitty, Fox, Lion, Monkey, Bunny

Yoee Baby Sensory Feather: Violet; Blue

Get the Yoee Baby Original Line here!

Krissa Watry - playPORTAL

Dynepic, Inc. is the creator of playPORTAL, a secure platform that makes developing child privacy-certified apps fast and easy. With cross-platform Software Development Kits (SDKs) backed by a first-ever kid-safe family network, developers can now create apps with instant Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) compliance allowing game-developers, app-developers and toy-makers to focus on making amazing personalized and social connected products that include kids, while playPORTAL handles the data security and privacy compliance.

Products from the past year:

Wonder Works Wishlist

ShotDoctor

playPORTAL

playPORTAL Studio

Get playPORTAL here!

Nick Metzler - Hall Hydra for Spin Master

Nick got his start in the industry 8 years ago as a contestant in ChiTAG’s Young Inventor Challenge. At 16 years old he won; following it up the next year with a second win with Squashed, his first game on the market. After brief stints working on Survivor and creating games in multiple mediums he landed at Spin Master. He quickly designed 14 games that went to market and managed 4 more, creating and sustaining an entirely new sector in Spin Games, the hobby market. He is actively working on multiple concepts which hit market Nov 2018, Dec 2018, and beyond.

Collaborators:

Geizi Guevara

McCown Design Agency

Spin Master Games Team

Products from the past year:

Battle of the Sexes

The Dog Game

Killer Party Kiss of Death

Killer Party Bone Appetit

Killer Party Fangs For the Memories

Rusty Rivets Quick Bits Path Game

produced: 5-Minute Marvel, Santorini Golden Fleece Expansion Pack

Get Hail Hydra here!

Marissa Louie - Animoodles

Marissa Louie is the CEO and Chief Designer at Animoodles, the original magnetic mix and make stuffed animals. A former designer at Apple, Marissa collaborated with veteran artists from Disney and Pixar to develop Animoodles. It began with a childhood dream— Marissa saw the need for stuffed animals that inspire creativity in children. She later identified that stuffed animals could have an interactive mix-and-make play pattern if they had strong magnets inside each of their cuddly parts. Animoodles became the #1 classic toy on Kickstarter in 2017, and now inspires creativity in children around the world.

Collaborators:

Daniel Holland, Chief Artist

Nak Yong Choi, Story Director and Artist

Liam Rinat, Artist

Kevin Kidney, Artist

Corey Reese, COO

Caren Shalek, Advisor

Jeff Lewis, Advisor

Products from the past year:

Animoodles Iris Unicorn

Animoodles Hazel Sloth

Animoodles Randy Orangutan

Animoodles Brady Lion

Animoodles Miguel Frog

Animoodles Sophie Elephant

Get Animoodles here!

INNOVATIVE ART AND VISUALS OF THE YEAR

Elan Lee and Matt Inman - Bears vs Babies for Exploding Kittens

After the explosive success of their first game, Exploding Kittens, game designers Elan Lee, and Matthew Inman, launched their second title, Bears vs. Babies. In this game, players compete to protect the cute, innocent, adorable bears from the horrible babies. Stitch together a Handsome Salmon armed with knives and burritos, or a Pomeranian of Light and Wonder in business attire who can run at the speed of light to prepare your bear armies for battle Covering the box in fur required the team to invent an entirely new production process and earned them dozens of emails from Amazon corporate featuring colorful phrases like “fur contamination hazard”.

Get Bears vs Babies here!

Geizi Guevara, Mike Freeth, Patrick Murray, and Chris Wickman - The Cat Game for Spin Master

Wanting a break-frame package for our hair-raising drawing game (with cats), we decided to do a version where it looked like each buyer would be the new proud owner of a cat - stuffed into every box. (Air holes were extra.) Eschewing bullet points, bursts, images and other info, we went for a powerful, eye-catching first read of uniqueness and fun! Marketing and costing was on board to not reduce any of the fun out of the package, and the vision went on shelf practically as it was conceived! Pow!

Get The Cat Game here!

Jakks Pacific, Seven Towns, Make-a-Mask - FanHeadsTM

Get it. Wear it. Game on with FanHeads™ Football helmets, a new way for football fans to show their team spirit! Specially made from a strong and durable paper laminate, they are perfect for Games, Tailgates, Parties, and Display! FanHeads™ helmets are lightweight and adjustable to four sizes (S, M, L, XL) and are comfortable all season long! FanHeads™ are officially licensed product of the NFL representing all 32 teams, and 69 of the top collegiate NCAA football teams.

Get FanHeads here!

Prospero Hall - Disney Villainous for WonderForge

We love games that are rich and textured experiences. We design gameplay that is strategic, clever and captivating. We make games in a collaborative, multi-disciplinary process that includes the diverse perspectives of many people. Prospero Hall is the name we give to that collaborative effort.

Get Disney Villainous here!

Sabrina Miramon, Chris D’Angelo, Greg Stata, Kelly Miele, Kathy Beyerle - Shadows in the Forest for ThinkFun

Sabrina Miramon is a French artist and self-taught illustrator currently living in the UK. Since 2006 she has worked in several major game & animation studios, but in 2015 she took the leap into freelance illustration. She has since worked on many international projects illustrating board games, books, backgrounds and video games. Her clients have included: Ankama, Nickelodeon, Lego, Virgin, Asmodee, Days of Wonder, Blue Orange games, Thinkfun, Capstone... When she's not working, she can be found looking at pictures of fluffy dogs on the internet, reading and playing video games.

Get Shadows in the Forest here!

INNOVATIVE MARKETING TEAMS OF THE YEAR

JMP Creative's Social Media Team - Orbeez Wow World Campaign - Maya Toys

Most YouTube channels consist of repurposed TV spots and how-to videos, JMP’s social media team designs and delivers magical and inventive content. Our YouTube playlists focus on new and innovative ways to play and experience the product and Brand! JMP also influence audiences to mimic our content directions in the form of challenges and more. Content is important, but the true value lies in fan engagement! In addition, through influencer outreach and development of inspiring videos, we help fans create their own user-generated content. As a result, our brands’ fans have generated billions of YouTube views.

Get Orbeez here!

PlayMonster 5 Second Rule Marketing Team - 5 Second Rule

With the launch of the 2018 edition, the 5 Second Rule marketing team ramped up its marketing efforts to give the game some love and fame! Ellen Degeneres plays 5 Second Rule on her show with various celebrities, and the video clips on YouTube get millions of views and lots of shares. There have even been celebrities who have come back on the show and requested a rematch with Ellen! 5 Second Rule was also on over one million Musselman’s package in late summer, and is a part of a huge Halloween promotion with a popular restaurant.

Get 5 Second Rule here!

Lee Parkhurst, Jennifer Jens, Sunny Choi, and Nicole Younger - Educational Insights for Sculptapalooza's Online Campaign

The Educational Insights marketing team is Sunny Choi, Jennifer Jens, Lee Parkhurst, and Nicole Younger. Our team motto is: "it takes team work to make the dream work!”

Get Sculptapalooza here!

Hasbro Marketing and Rhett and Link - Online Influencer Video Campaign

We know that that people are passionate about playing games and that gaming brings families and friends of all ages and generations together for fun and meaningful social interaction. Our goal is to provide families with gaming experiences that are fun to play, fun to watch and fun to share.

Earlier this year, Hasbro announced a multi-year relationship with comedians Rhett & Link that includes co-developing new gaming experiences and branded content. To pique the interest of their fans, Hasbro and the pair will create one-of-a-kind content to launch the brand’s new games on the duo’s daily episodic YouTube series, Good Mythical Morning.

Stay up to date here!

Sydney Wiseman - Fingerlings for WowWee

Sydney Wiseman is a key Brand Manager for WowWee, and the creator of the award-winning Fingerlings toy line, among other inventions at the company. She plays a significant role in the development, play spec and marketing strategy of new WowWee consumer product. Sydney’s day is spent contributing to and integrating cutting edge R&D and making it viable and marketable for sales. Her creativity and love for innovative products, coupled with her practical experience in the Toy Industry contribute to WowWee's product ideation and improvement, as well as reaching the consumer across different markets. Sydney graduated with honours from McGill University in 2011 and won the prestigious Creator of the Year award from Woman In Toys (WIT) in 2018.

Collaborators:

Davin Sufer

Benny Dongarra

Adam Fairless

Get Fingerlings here!

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