New York | Toy of the Year awards underscores big year for children’s licenses

Pokemon, Super Mario, Star Wars The Mandalorian, and PAW Patrol are just some of the leading children’s brands to have won big this weekend when the annual Toy of the Year awards hosted an all-virtual event to reveal its winners.

A tussle of the titans ensued as the awards – recognised as the ‘Oscars of the toy industry’ – watched global toy makers LEGO and Mattel emerge with no fewer than four award wins each, with the likes of LEGO’s Super Mario play-sets and Mattel’s The Mandalorian The Child Plush thrust into the spotlight.

License of the Year went to Disney for The Mandalorian, while the Pokemon Trading Card Game took home Game of the Year. Pre-school Toy of the Year was swept up by Spin Master and its PAW Patrol franchise, while Playmibile drove home at 88mph with the Vehicle of the Year award for its Back to the Future DeLorean play-set.

“It’s an exhilarating feeling to be recognized for our relentless drive to push the boundaries of play,” said Anton Rabie, Spin Master’s chairman and co-chief executive officer of the firm’s win in the Pre-school Toy of the Year category.

“Every year our incredibly talented team, in collaboration with our amazing community of external inventors, raises the bar on innovation with the purpose of developing magical moments and experiences for kids and families around the world. Together, we’re committed to reimagining where imagination can take us.”

Meanwhile, in a surprise announcement, two winners were chosen for the People’s Choice Award; Story Time Chess (Story Time Chess), a classic game re-imagined for the youngest of players, and The Original Spawn Action Figure and Comic Remastered (McFarlane Toys), a fan-favourite that has its roots in Kickstarter success.

Toy of the Year Awards were handed out in 16 categories. The winners are:

Action Figure of the Year: Fisher-Price #ThankYouHeroes Line (Mattel)

Collectible of the Year: LEGO Super Mario Character Packs (LEGO)

Construction Toy of the Year: LEGO Star Wars The Razor Crest (LEGO)

Creative Toy of the Year: Crayola Colors of the World Crayons (Crayola LLC)

Doll of the Year: Barbie Color Reveal (Mattel)

Game of the Year: Pokémon Trading Card Game Battle Academy (The Pokémon Company International)

Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year: Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Grow-the-Fun Garden to Kitchen (Mattel)

Innovative Toy of the Year: Star Wars: The Child Animatronic Edition Toy (Hasbro)

License of the Year: Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Disney)

Outdoor Toy of the Year: Ultimate Go-Kart (Radio Flyer)

Playset of the Year: LEGO Super Mario Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle Expansion Set (LEGO)

Plush Toy of the Year: Star Wars: The Mandalorian The Child 11” Plush (Mattel)

Preschool Toy of the Year: PAW Patrol Dino Patroller (Spin Master)

Specialty Toy of the Year: LEGO Ideas Grand Piano (LEGO)

STEAM Toy of the Year: Mega Cyborg Hand (Thames & Kosmos)

Vehicle of the Year: PLAYMOBIL Back To The Future DeLorean (PLAYMOBIL)

Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association, said: “From 117 outstanding finalists to this year’s TOTY winners, to Hasbro’s Toy of the Year Award and two unique People’s Choice winners, each underscores the joy of play in uncertain times, the togetherness of family game night, as well as the swiftly-evolving retail and e-commerce landscape.

“The TOTYs continue to reflect the toy and play community’s passion and perseverance, all while honoring the richly deserving Hall of Fame inductees. It also raises vital funding for The Toy Foundation as it embarks on impactful new programs supporting children’s hospitals and driving diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in the toy industry. We thank the independent expert judging panels and the tens of thousands of individuals who voted this year.”

During the event, four toy industry visionaries were also officially inducted into the esteemed Toy Industry Hall of Fame. This year saw Philip Bloom, founder and former publisher of The Bloom Report; William C. Killgallon, chairman of the board at The Ohio Art Company; Pleasant T. Rowland, founder of American Girl, a division of Mattel, Inc.; and the late Margarete Steiff, founder and creator of Steiff were all inducted.

Read more about the Hall of Fame inductees here.

More than 500 TOTY Award nominees poured in late last summer. Of those, 117 finalists were selected by a panel of expert judges. Category winners were then determined based on votes from toy retailers (mass and specialty), media, Toy Association members, and consumers.

The “Toy of the Year” winner was determined by an expert panel that discussed all the finalists before rendering a decision based on TOTY votes, holiday sales, and media buzz (traditional, online, and social).

The “People’s Choice” award winners were uniquely selected by online consumer votes. All results were audited for accuracy, including the judging and voting process, and The NPD Group validated marketplace acceptance. Descriptions of all TOTY finalists can be found at ToyAwards.org.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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