Boys’ TOTY and Girls’ TOTY are out. Action Figure, Collectible Toy, Construction Toy, Doll, Rookie, and Vehicle Toy are in.
The elimination of the long-time Boys’ and Girls’ awards, along with the addition of six new categories, are just part of the U.S. Toy Industry Association’s recent overhaul of the prestigious Toy of the Year Awards program.
Considered the “Oscars” of the North American toy industry, the TOTYs are handed out each year at a gala-style presentation just prior to the opening of the TIA’s annual International Toy Fair in NYC in February.
However, the award categories are not the only area to receive a tweaking. The TIA also announced it will institute a more efficient and transparent judging method to help determine this year’s TOTY award finalists.
“For nearly two decades, the TOTY Awards have celebrated the innovative spirit of the toy industry and its ability to transport children to magical worlds through play,” explained Ken Seiter, TIA vice president of marketing communications.
“With the introduction of new categories and a more straightforward judging process, we are ensuring that the awards program remains relevant and representative of the ingenious creations that originate from toy companies of all sizes.”
Nominations for the 2017 TOTYs opened earlier this week. Toy companies, inventors, and other industry representatives are invited to submit toys, games and licenses for consideration across a total of 14 TOTY categories through September 30th.
TOTY Categories for 2017
Action Figure of the Year (new)
Toys that include action figures, and their play sets/accessories
Active/Outdoor Toy of the Year (formerly Outdoor)
Toys that are designed for active, outdoor play
Activity Toy of the Year
Arts and crafts, construction and other indoor toys that inspire creative play through various forms of activity.
Collectible of the Year (new)
Toys that compose a set; can include novelty playthings, miniature versions of existing lines, licensed collectibles, etc.
Construction Toy of the Year (new)
Toys that include building & engineering sets
Doll of the Year (new)
Toys that include fashion and plush dolls, and their play sets/accessories
Game of the Year
Children’s board, card, electronic or other physical game formats and puzzles (does not include video games or apps)
Infant/Preschool Toy of the Year (formerly two separate categories)
Toys that are developed for infants/preschoolers (up to 5 years)
Innovative Toy of the Year
Toys that utilize innovative design, technology, or manufacturing processes to enhance play value
License of the Year (formerly Property)
Character or property that has had success spreading its brand throughout the industry
Rookie of the Year (new)
A new company (created within the last 2 years) that has brought to market an outstanding toy
Specialty Toy of the Year
Toys primarily distributed through specialty retailers
Tech Toy of the Year (formerly e-Connected)
Physical toys that are electronic or interact with a smartphone, tablet or gaming device
Vehicle of the Year (new)
Powered or non-powered vehicles, and their play sets/accessories
People’s Choice Toy of the Year
Toy decided by consumers who vote at ToyAwards.org
Toy of the Year
Overall best toy of the year decided by retailers, consumers, media and TIA members
At that point, 25 judges, including toy and play experts, retailers, academics, and journalists, will move into action. They will use an online form to review, comment on, and rank hundreds of submitted products in specific categories that are relevant to their areas of expertise. They will consider each product’s creativity, originality and innovation, design and promotion, excellence, and marketplace acceptance.
The judges will then participate in a live discussion to debate any categories that did not draw an undisputed roster of finalists during the online judging period.
In November, the TOTY finalists will be revealed and five ballots will open for consumers, retailers (one each for mass and specialty), media, and TIA members. As in previous years, public online voting will also launch and remain open until mid-January 2017.
For more information, contact the Toy Industry Association.