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Friday, November 16 2018 09:27

A Look at the 2019 Toy of the Year Nominees...

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We're entering award season, and that means we've hit a time of the year in which I question a lot of choices and inject my opinion as awards and nominees are pretty subjective. Earlier this week, the Toy Association unveiled their annual list of nominees for the coveted Toy of The Year (TOTY) in a variety of categories, and while there's some great stuff in the mix - there's some that hit me like the GRAMMYS... a little off and with some that seem to be on the list just to have representation from certain brands. Prime example, Playmates Toys scored a nom for their Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deluxe Ninja Action Figure Assortment. Overall, the Rise of the TMNT line is fantastic - another huge win for Playmates, but I would've chosen the more extensive (and creative) Basic Action Figure Assortment. Why? I think the "Deluxe" figures sorta suck. They're gimmicky, oddly proportioned (to hide the mechanics of the gimmick), and above all - I see kids play with this stuff on a regular basis. But maybe I'm over-analyzing things... doing my "Tom Hanks in BIG" ("I don't get it?") routine.  It'll be a tough call to choose the winners, and you can take part by casting some votes (early and often, as we say here in Illinois) at www.toyawards.org. Now let's check out the full list...

ACTION FIGURE OF THE YEAR
Toys that include action figures 

  • DJ Bumblebee (Hasbro, Inc.)
  • Mattel Jurassic World™ Dinosaur Action Figures (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Pokémon 4.5” Battle Feature Figures (Wicked Cool Toys)
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deluxe Ninja Action Figure Assortment (Playmates Toys)
  • Stikbot Monsters (Zing)
  • Treasure X (Moose Toys)
  • WWE® Sound Slammers™ Figures (Mattel, Inc.)

COLLECTIBLE OF THE YEAR
Toys that compose a set and can be collected in multiples; can include novelty playthings, miniature versions of existing lines, licensed collectibles, etc.

  • Beaker Creatures™ (Learning Resources)
  • Disney Doorables (Moose Toys)
  • LEGO® Harry Potter™ and Fantastic Beasts™ Minifigure Series (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Series (MGA Entertainment)
  • Lost Kitties Blind Box Multipack Assortment (Hasbro, Inc.)
  • Pikmi Pops: Pikmi Flips (Moose Toys)
  • Polly Pocket (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Twisty Petz (Spin Master)

CONSTRUCTION TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that include building and engineering sets

  • Gears! Gears! Gears! Machines in Motion (Learning Resources)
  • GeoSmart Flip Bot (SMART Toys and Games, Inc.)
  • GraviTrax Starter Set (Ravensburger)
  • Kessel Run Millennium Falcon™ (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • LEGO® Harry Potter™ Great Hall™ (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • Marbleocity Triple Play Archimedes Screw (PlayMonster)
  • Snap Circuits BRIC: Structures (Elenco)

CREATIVE TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that allow kids to build an/or make items that are unique to them

  • Antsy Pants Build & Play Kit (Beach House Group)
  • Avengers Hero Inventor Kit (littleBits)
  • Building Bricks Play N Store Table (KidKraft)
  • Cool Maker KumiKreator (Spin Master)
  • Rock And Roll It Spectrum Drum (MukikiM LLC)
  • Sew + Glow (Tech Will Save Us)
  • The Big Engineering Makerspace (Thames & Kosmos)

DOLL OF THE YEAR
Toys that include plush, baby, toddler, and fashion dolls

  • Barbie® Ibtihaj Muhammad Doll (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Barbie® Robotics Engineer Doll (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Cry Babies (IMC Toys)
  • DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free Deluxe Spirit Walking Horse (Just Play/Universal Brand Development)
  • Hairdorables (Just Play)
  • L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Under Wraps (MGA Entertainment)
  • Marvel Rising Secret Warriors Doll Assortment (Hasbro, Inc.)
  • My Friend Fancy Nancy™ Doll (JAKKS Pacific)

GAME OF THE YEAR
Children’s board, card, electronic, or other physical game formats or puzzles

  • Disney Villainous™ Game by Wonder Forge (Ravensburger)
  • Dr. Biscuits' Radical Road Trip (Barry and Jason Games & Entertainment)
  • Fryin Flyin Donuts (Maya Toys)
  • Monster Match (North Star Games)
  • Relative Insanity (PlayMonster)
  • Unstable Unicorns (TeeTurtle, LLC)
  • Voice Originals: When in Rome (Sensible Object)

INFANT/TODDLER TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that are developed for ages 0-3 

  • Dolce Baby Aardvark (Magformers LLC)
  • Fisher-Price® Laugh & Learn® Smart Learning Home™ (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Grippies® Shakers - 30 Piece Set (Guidecraft)
  • HEXBUG Cuddlebots Garden Carousel (HEXBUG)
  • Kid O Hudson Glow Rattle (PlayMonster)
  • Learning Friends 100 Words Book™ (LeapFrog)
  • Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog (Learning Resources)

INNOVATIVE TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that utilize innovative design, technology, or manufacturing processes to enhance play value

  • Botley™ the Coding Robot Activity Set (Learning Resources)
  • Harry Potter™ Wizard Training™ (JAKKS Pacific)
  • K’NEX Thrill Rides Bionic Blast™ Roller Coaster Building Set (K’NEX, a division of Basic Fun!)
  • Legend Kit (Infento)
  • Marvel Legends Series Infinity Gauntlet Articulated Electronic Fist (Hasbro, Inc.)
  • Mystery Flying Snitch (Wow! Stuff)
  • Sensors Alive: Bring Physics to Life! (Thames & Kosmos)

LICENSE OF THE YEAR
Character or property that has had success spreading its brand throughout the industry

  • Hatchimals (Spin Master)
  • Hot Wheels (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Jurassic World™ Fallen Kingdom (Universal Brand Development)
  • L.O.L. Surprise! (MGA Entertainment)
  • Marvel Black Panther™ (The Walt Disney Company)
  • Peppa Pig (Entertainment One)
  • PJ Masks (Entertainment One)

OUTDOOR TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that are designed for outdoor play, including ride-ons

  • Glove-A-Bubbles (Zing)
  • MorfBoard™ (JAKKS Pacific)
  • Nickelodeon Automatic Slime Drencher (JAKKS Pacific)
  • Razor Turbo Jetts Electric Heel Wheels (Razor USA, LLC)
  • Rollplay Nighthawk Ride-On (Rollplay)
  • Watermelon Smash (Yulu)
  • X-Shot™ Flying Bug Attack (ZURU)

PLAYSET TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that are designed to work together to enact some action or event

  • Disney•Pixar Cars Super Track Mack Playset (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Farm To Table Play Kitchen With EZ Kraft Assembly™ (KidKraft)
  • Hidden Temple with T-Rex (PLAYMOBIL)
  • L.O.L. Surprise! House (MGA Entertainment)
  • LEGO® Creator Expert Roller Coaster (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • LEGO® Jurassic World™ Indoraptor Rampage at Lockwood Estate (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43” Epic Sewer Lair Playset (Playmates Toys)

PLUSH OF THE YEAR
Toys that are made of fabric and stuffed with cotton or similar filling

  • Dolce Afghan Hound (Magformers LLC)
  • Fingerlings HUGS (WowWee)
  • GUND Flora Bunny Animated Plush (Spin Master)
  • Pomsies™ (Skyrocket)
  • Rainbocorns (ZURU)
  • Rescue Runts (KD Kids)
  • Scruff-A-Luvs (Moose Toys)
  • Star Wars Ultimate Co-Pilot Chewie (Hasbro, Inc.)

PRESCHOOL TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that are developed for ages 3-5

  • Design & Drill® See Through Creative Workshop (Educational Insights)
  • Disney Junior Doc McStuffins Pet Rescue Mobile (Just Play)
  • Fisher-Price® Think & Learn Rocktopus™ (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Kid Trax Rideamals Scout (Kid Trax)
  • LEGO® DUPLO Steam Train (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • Little Tikes STEM Jr. Wonder Lab (MGA Entertainment)
  • Pop Oh Ver Stove Set (Kangaroo Manufacturing Inc.)

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
A new company (created within the last 2 years) that has brought to market an outstanding toy

  • Massive Monster Mayhem Bash Weapons (Alpha Group US)
  • Match the Baby Puzzles (Banana Panda, Inc.)
  • Monsters Lock Box (Tender Leaf Toys)
  • Ollyball - The Ultimate Indoor Play Ball! (VICTURY Sports)
  • Tic Tac Tongue (Yulu)
  • Turing Tumble (Turing Tumble LLC)
  • What The Film?! (Lethal Chicken Games)

SPECIALTY TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys primarily distributed through specialty retailers and are not sold at mass

  • Betrayal at Cloud City™ (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • Chickapig (Buffalo Games, LLC)
  • GeoSafari® Jr. Talking Telescope™ (Educational Insights)
  • GUND Super Pusheenicorn (Spin Master)
  • HEXBUG Ring Racer (HEXBUG)
  • LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ Castle (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • Marbles Otrio (Spin Master)
  • Pepper Mint in the Great Treehouse Engineering Adventure (Thames & Kosmos)

TECH TOY OF THE YEAR
Physical toys that are electronic or interact with a smart-phone, tablet or gaming device

  • Arcade1Up (Tastemakers LLC)
  • Creative Coder (Tech Will Save Us)
  • Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit (Kano)
  • Kids First Coding & Robotics (Thames & Kosmos)
  • LeapStart® 3D Learning System (LeapFrog)
  • Really Rad Robots: MiBro (Moose Toys)
  • VEX Balancing Boxing Bot 2-Pack (HEXBUG)

VEHICLE OF THE YEAR
Toys that are powered or non-powered vehicles, and their playsets/accessories

  • Automoblox BR100 Hercules (PlayMonster)
  • LEGO® Technic® Bugatti Chiron (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • Nerf Nitro Doubleclutch Inferno Blaster (Hasbro, Inc.)
  • PAW Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck (Spin Master & Nickelodeon)
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtle Tank (Playmates Toys)
  • TerraSect RC (Alpha Group US)
  • VEX Robotics OffRoad Truck (HEXBUG)

Voting runs through January 6, 2019 with the winners being announced at the 116th North American International Toy Fair in New York City on February 15. Check out full details on the awards and how they work here.

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, has contributed to The Toy Book and writes a regular Star Wars column - Transmissions from a Galaxy Far, Far Away for The Pop Insider. He also regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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