President’s Letter – November 27, 2012:  TOTY Gathers Momentum

TIA’s Toy of the Year (TOTY) program is barely a dozen years old, yet it has had multiple refinements and venues during those years. Today, the program is on the threshold of becoming what we have always wanted it to be: a highly regarded and widely reported vehicle for recognizing creative and successful toys and promoting holiday toys sales.

There are many top toy lists that emerge during the holiday season, and we welcome and support all of them. Toy award programs are not a “zero sum game.” Capturing the attention of national or even local media to promote toys is difficult, and the more voices trumpeting the joy of toys the better.  

But as the Association representing all companies in the toy industry, TIA has a responsibility to implement a particularly thoughtful program that assures the utmost integrity and transparency in the selection process. Here are some of the changes we have made in the past three years to the TOTY program:

  • Nominations are invited from all toy companies – regardless of their membership status in TIA.
  • Finalists in each toy category are selected by independent committees of experts; separate committees are established for each category.
  • Nominating committee members select seven finalists from all the submitted toys by voting electronically without any influence from other committee members; on average, anywhere from 50 to 75 products are considered per category.
  • Finalists are announced during Thanksgiving week at a special press event in a holiday setting at Bryant Park in New York City.
  • The ultimate award winners in each category are chosen by a combined vote of consumers, retailers, journalists/bloggers and companies in the toy industry.   Thousands of votes are cast.

The TOTY event has been moved to high profile venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center and Alice Tully Hall. In 2013 it will be at the stunning Plaza Hotel adjacent to Central Park.  

As a consequence of all these changes and improvements, the amount of media pickup we receive on the nominations and awards has increased dramatically. The TOTY award program promotes not just the winning toys, but the joy and creativity of all toys and the toy industry. 

In addition, the TOTY program is the largest fundraising event supporting the Toy Industry Foundation, (TIF) which provides toys to thousands of needy children. TIF philanthropy has helped portray to consumers the generous human face of the toy industry. So the TOTY program accomplishes multiple objectives for the toy industry.

Thank you to all the toy companies and retailers and experts who participate. We look forward to additional growth and visibility of the program in the coming years. 

Warm regards to all,


ckeithley@toyassociation.org