Toys & Collectibles

Fair Play: 2016 TIA “Toy of the Year” Winners

toy industry association, toy fair, the toy bank, the toy foundation
The Toy Industry Association timeline delineates 100 years of service to the trade.

This week The Toy Industry Association, Inc. (TIA) celebrated it’s 113th annual trade event, once again bringing together creators, vendors, buyers and press outlets to North American International Toy Fair.

Neither Rain, Sleet, Nor Snow…
Though Mother Nature showed more of her “mutha” side by slinging a checklist of inclemencies at us, the sub-zero temperatures, slippery sleet and sheets of wind driven rain, were hardly noticed inside the hermetically sealed walls of New York City’s Jacob Javitts Convention Center. Toy Fair is a dizzying phantasmagoria of jubilant dolls, heroic action and collector figures, cuddly stuffed animals, strategic games and puzzling puzzles. It is exactly the rabbit hole I look forward to sliding down in mid February, and along with colleague Ken Pierce ( we take advantage of gleaning as much information as we can during our four day self-appointed rounds to share with our readers.

2016 is TIA’s centennial year and the association started the celebration last September with a ribbon cutting ceremony that opened the Toys Hall of Fame exhibit at The Strong Museum in Rochester, NY. On display at Toy Fair was a beautifully designed graphic timeline of significant points in the organization’s history.

Since 2003 the association’s “Toy Bank,” part of its philanthropic Toy Industry Foundation, has collected over $100 million dollars worth of industry donated merchandise which has been distributed to families in need around the world via affiliated children’s charities like Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.).

toy industry association, toy fair, the toy bank, the toy foundation, doc mcstuffins, just play, pet vet center
Just Play’s Doc McStuffins Pet Vet Checkup Center was voted TIA’s Toy of the Year for 2016.

Toy of the Year Awards…
On February 12th (the evening before The Fair officially opened) the association held a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History to announce the winners of the Toy of the Year Awards. Taking the top honor as the “Toy of the Year” was Just Play’s Doc McStuffins Pet Vet Checkup Center. Based on the popular DisneyJunior character the Checkup Center is a kiosk style station probably as tall as the preschoolers (ages 3-5) it is intended for. It’s loaded with items to promote inventive freeplay. Just Play says, “Kids can pretend to take care of their pet friends and animals…” “With lights and sounds, the Checkup Center features over 25 exciting vet accessories and tools, including slide-in x-rays, a scale, bath, electronic stethoscope, kid-powered EKG, otoscope, bandage dispenser and more!”

toy industry association, toy fair, the toy bank, the toy foundation, mecanoid g-15, spin master, hex bugs, vex robotic arm
Spin Master’s Meccanoid G-15 and Hexbugs’ Vex Robotic Arm are two of our favorite award winners.

It was great to be able to vote with confidence this year as the Toy Insider “HoliDay of Play” and “Sweet Suite” events gave co-editor Adriana “Andy” Melendez ( and I hands on familiarity with many of the nominees. We’re thrilled to report that several of our favorites were selected. In particular we’re happy to see Spin Master Corporation and Hexbugs/VEX get props for their build it, program it, play with it, customize it, robotics, that fit perfectly with our interest in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and S.T.E.A.M. (add Art to the previous mix) based products.

toy industry association, toy fair, the toy bank, the toy foundation, Toy of the Year for 2016, star wars, lego
Disney/LucasFilms “Star Wars” franchise was the Property of the Year winner.

Stars Wars, Nothing but Stars Wars…
It was no surprise that Disney/LucasFilms Star Wars franchise was voted licensing property of the year. The Star Wars themed Infinity 3.0 gaming platform, as well as Lego‘s gigantic Millennium Falcon also won awards. Lego showcased full scale The Force Awakens builds in the event hall’s main thoroughfare, and thousands of attendees took advantage of being photographed next to the amazing likenesses of the newest characters.

Based on their nearly tandem opening dates I noted increasing interest in merchandise for Marvel Entertainment/20th Century Fox’s ersatz X-man Deadpool as The Fair progressed. The film is a grinning-in-your-face tip of the hat to fandom at large. Every cheesy aside is calculated to make the comic book insider chuckle. It will take even the most efficient aficionado several viewings to catch every nudge and wink.

The Works…
Here’s the complete 2016 honoree list with links to their websites:

Toy of the Year:
Doc McStuffins Pet Vet Checkup Center by Just Play

Consumer voted “People’s Choice” Award:
Uptown Espresso Kitchen by KidKraft LLC

Educational Toy of the Year:
VEX Robotics Robotic Arm by HEXBUG

Activity Toy of the Year:
Bunchems by Spin Master Corp.

Girl Toy of the Year:
Shopkins Scoops Ice Cream Truck by Moose Toys

Boy Toy of the Year:
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Millenium Falcon by The LEGO Group

e-Connected Toy of the Year:
Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition by Disney

Game of the Year:
PIE FACE GAME by Hasbro, Inc.

Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year:
Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo by Fisher-Price

Innovative Toy of the Year:
Meccanoid G15 by Spin Master Corp.

Outdoor Toy of the Year:
Razor GFD Fury
 by Razor USA, LLC

Preschool Toy of the Year (ages 3-5):
Doc McStuffins Pet Vet Checkup Center by Just Play

Property of the Year:
Star Wars from Disney/Lucasfilm Licensing

Specialty Toy of the Year:
Tumble Trax™ Magnetic Marble Run by Learning Resources

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