For the first time in its 13 year history, the annual Chicago Toy and Game Week Young Inventor Challenge crowned three grand prize winners for Most Marketable Concept.
Cain Guerra, a fourth grader, won for Soup It. Lyra Acosta, a fifth grader, won for Hypnodizzy, and the team of Lily Brown and Tait Hansen, both sixth 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 the award sponsor Target's HQ in Minneapolis for a behind-the-scenes tour of how products move through the processes from selection all the way to store shelves.
David Norman, President of Pressman Toy, another of the awards’ main sponsors, says: “The competition gets better and better every year. We are so impressed and excited for each of these young people. 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.”
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.
The kids weren’t the only winners: top inventors were honored at the Toy and Game Innovator Awards gala (TAGIEs). Spin Master CMO Nancy Zwiers gave the keynote. As a former inventor herself, she shared some of the challenges she faced in her “rollercoaster ride” career: “Being an inventor is damn hard,” she said. “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.”
The evening’s winners were:
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.
Over the course of four days, more than 30,000 toy and game fans from around the world came together for ChiTAG at Navy Pier to celebrate play and meet the inventors behind the world’s most popular toys and games.