Dec 20, 2018
Young Inventor Challenge ends with surprise

For the first time in its 13 year history, the Young Inventor Challenge (YIC), held annually during Chicago Toy and Game Week (ChiTAG), crowned three grand prize winners for Most Marketable Concept, a category sponsored by Target and Pressman Toy. Cain Guerra, a 4th grader from Palos Park, IL won for Soup It. Lyra Acosta, a 5th grader from Palos Hills, IL won for Hypnodizzy. The team of Lily Brown of Alpine, UT and Tait Hansen of Evanston, IL, both 6th graders, won for Bet You Can’t. Each of the winning young inventors along with three members of their family will take a trip to Target Headquarters in Minneapolis for a behind-the-scenes tour of how products move through the processes from selection all the way to store shelves.

Over 250 kids competed in the YIC spanning 5 countries and 15 states. Each one received feedback from 100 mentors from Target, Goliath, PlayMonster, LEGO, Spin Master, Razor, Disney, Hasbro, Mattel, IDEO, KID Group, 7Towns and many more worldwide. A complete list of 2018 YIC winners can be found here:

“The competition gets better and better every year. We are so impressed and excited for each of these young people,” said David Norman, President of Pressman Toy. “We can’t promise anything yet, but we are seriously looking at each of the winning games to possibly manufacture and sell under the Pressman Toy name.”

Pressman Toy partnered with 2017’s Young Inventor Challenge winner Ellie Skalla of Oak Park, IL and manufactured her game Galactiquest. It will be released in January 2019 exclusively at Target. PlayMonster also has two games coming out in Fall 2019 from Young Inventor Challenge winners including Draw-n To Crime by Tiggy Silwinski of Palos Hills, IL and There’s a Poo on My Shoe! by Edie Piacenza of Elmhurst, IL.

The Young Inventor Challenge was just one of many highlights at the 16th annual Chicago Toy and Game Week (Nov. 15-18) which garnered more than 1.5 billion media impressions in 2018. Over the course of four days, more than 30,000 toy and game fans from around the world came together at Navy Pier to celebrate play and meet the inventors behind the world’s most popular toys and games.

Many of those inventors were honored at the Toy and Game Innovator Awards gala (TAGIEs) Friday evening. Spin Master CMO Nancy Zwiers gave the keynote. As a former inventor herself, she shared some of the challenges she faced in her career. “It’s a rollercoaster ride. I didn’t do it because it was easy. Being an inventor is damn hard. We do this because the world needs our creativity, our ability to think outside the box, to see opportunities that no one else can see and our playfulness.” Later, awards were given in categories such as:

  • Game Innovators of the Year – Bob Driscoll and Don Ullman for Don’t Step In It by Hasbro
  • Toy Innovator of the Year – David Fuhrer, Richard Kimbrough, DiscoNifty​ for Twisty Petz by Spin Master
  • Young Inventor of the Year – Harper Miller for The Dream Pillow
  • Rising Star Innovator of the Year – Nick Metzler Hail Hydra for Spin Master
  • Innovative Art and Visuals of the Year – Elan Lee and Matt Inman of Exploding Kittens for Bears vs Babies
  • Innovative Marketing Team of the Year – Sydney Wiseman for Fingerlings by WowWee

Special recognition went to:

  • Inventor Advocacy Honoree Mike Meyers, Retired as Senior VP Hasbro Games
  • Start-Up of the Year Thijmen de Schipper and Jochem van Rijn of Yulu Toys
  • Hassenfeld Family Initiatives Humanitarian Award to #MyShotAtEpilepsy Challenge
  • Lifetime Achievement Honorees David Small and Paul Rago of Shoot the Moon.

Dynamic duo David Small and Paul Rago shared their 27 year history in the industry with the crowd through photos and memorable stories starting with their first toy, Teddy Ruxpin, all the way to present day. “It’s nice to still have a lifetime after all of these inventions, aside from the achievement, it’s just nice to be kicking and still doing toys,” Paul said.

A complete list of TAGIE nominees, winners and honorees can be found here:

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