2012 Nominees

Follow the links below to view the nominees for this year's Hall of Fame. The inductees will be honored at the 13th annual TOTY Awards ceremony, Saturday, February 9, 2013.

CANDIDATES FOR INDUCTION INTO THE TOY INDUSTRY HALL OF FAME

Nominee

Title

Professional Affiliation

Ellis, Judith (Judy)

Chair, Toy Design Department

Fashion Institute of Technology

Feely, Patrick (Pat)

Retired CEO

Radica Games

Glickman, Joel

Founder

K’NEX Brands

Spielberg, Steven

Director, Filmmaker


Storch, Jerry CEO & Chairman

Toys“R”Us


CANDIDATES FOR POSTHUMOUS INDUCTION INTO THE TOY INDUSTRY HALL OF FAME

Nominee

Title

Professional Affiliation

Berrie, Russell (Russ)

Founder

Russ Berrie Inc.

Melin, Arthur “Spud” & Knerr, Richard

Co-founders

Wham-O Toy


Biographies

Judy Ellis 

JUDITH (JUDY) ELLIS, Chair, Toy Design Department, Fashion Institute of Technology

Judy Ellis is the founder and chair of the nation’s first baccalaureate program in Toy Design, which she launched at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1989.  In this position, she provides students with an environment emphasizing an ethical design approach and commitment to community.

The FIT program boasts close to 350 alumni who are working in leading toy design, manufacturing and inventor group throughout the United States and across the globe.  An estimated 3,500 products – including Hasbro’s Transformers Mega Powerbots, Littlest Pet Shop Round & Round Pet Town Playset and the licensed idea that was developed by Spin Master®, LTD into the 2009 Toy of the Year Bakugan – have been designed by FIT toy design alumni.

Ms. Ellis has received two SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Faculty Service and an award from the national Women In Toys organization for outstanding contribution to the industry. She has been invited to speak about children and design at events including The Yale University Inter-Disciplinary Bio-ethics program, the International Toy Research Association World Toy Congress, and The Smithsonian Institute Museum of American History Invention and Play exhibition, among others.

A graduate of Parsons School of Design with a BFA in Communication Design, Ms. Ellis’ career has been rich with educational and professional experience. During her tenure at New York-based design firm Chermayeff and Geismar, Ms. Ellis designed an award-winning permanent bicentennial exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution and large-scale murals for IBM.

Back to top
PATRICK (PAT) FEELY 

PATRICK (PAT) FEELY, Retired CEO Radica Games / Chairman Toy Industry Foundation

An over 30 year veteran and innovator in the toy and game industry, Pat Feely has led as President turnarounds at three publicly traded companies - Radica Games, Tonka USA, and Spectrum HoloByte.  Pat's career has also included long service to the Toy Industry Association that spans over 20 years including 12 years as Director, Chairman (2000-2002) and Advisor of the Toy Industry Association, founding Chairman of the Toy Industry Foundation in 2002 and currently serving his third term and 5th year as TIF Chairman.  During this period the TIF and Toy Bank have grown substantially and become a significant benefactor to children in need reflecting positively on the Toy Industry. 

As CEO of Radica, Pat led the company's transformation from a small handheld game company into a leading, diversified, electronic toy and game company known for innovation. Some of Radica's ground breaking innovations included PlayTV, the toy industry's first line of plug & play TV games, Girl Tech, the industry's first line of girl's electronics including its voice response Password Journal, and the artificial intelligence wonder, 20Q, the 2006 TOTY Electronic Entertainment Toy of the Year. He also led sale of Radica to Mattel in 2006, the company where Pat started his toy industry career.

As President of Tonka USA during the 1980s Pat led the turnaround around Tonka's failing truck business increasing market share from 18% to over 40% and diversified the company with the launch of Pound Puppies, GoBots (the first line of transformable robots) and the Sega Video Game System in America increasing sales over 400% and taking Tonka to the #6 size rank in the industry.

In 1988 Pat launched a start up company, Toy Soldiers, that was later sold to Bandai America where he became President before joining Spectrum HoloByte in 1993.  As CEO of Spectrum, he led the acquisition of Microprose by Spectrum Holobyte and subsequent IPO of this computer and video game pioneer in virtual reality gaming. At Spectrum Pat led the turnaround of a company experiencing huge losses by focusing the company on building brand franchises such as Tetris, Star Trek and Civilization. 

Pat is currently consulting in the industry on general management matters including business strategy, mergers and acquisitions. He is also a member of the Pasadena Angels, a group of investors in start-up companies located in Pasadena, CA. 

Back to top
Joel Glickman 

JOEL GLICKMAN, Founder, K’NEX Brands

Joel Glickman was 50 years old in 1990 when inspiration struck. While tinkering with  cocktail straws at a wedding Joel envisioned the possibilities of a construction toy built around the concept of rods and connectors to hold them together. 

By the time his idea (now called K’NEX) hit the toy market in late 1992 Joel had spent two years refining the concept only to have it rejected by the major toy companies. Against all odds he forged ahead producing the plastic toys at his family’s injection molding company, The Rodon Group, in Hatfield, PA.

In the 20 years that have followed, the family-owned and operated K’NEX has grown to become one of the world’s leading integrated construction systems for children thanks to Joel’s leadership. The line includes sets with not only rods and connectors but bricks, personality parts, and motors for movement, and is sold by retailers world wide.

K’NEX focus on Building Worlds Kids Love™ has resulted in partnerships with successful licensees’ such as Angry Birds, Sesame Street, NASCAR, Monster Jam and Mario Kart Wii-licensed K’NEX building sets along with K’NEX branded building sets for kids ages 2 – 12.
Committed to manufacturing in the United States at a time when most toys are made overseas, K’NEX has become America’s Building Toy Company with over 90% of its parts manufactured domestically at The Rodon Group’s eco-friendly production facility.

Joel Glickman’s idea for a new kind of building toy has resulted in more than just a fun and educational product for children – through K’NEX Joel has supported many worthy charities including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the United Way, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and The NASCAR Foundation.

2012 marks the 20th anniversary of K’NEX and what better way to celebrate than to honor Joel Glickman who is a constant reminder that with independence, ingenuity, hard work and a willingness to take risks all things are possible!

Back to top
Steven Spielberg 

STEVEN SPIELBERG, Director, Filmmaker

Perhaps the western world's most famous living filmmaker, Steven Spielberg has succeeded in combining the intimacy of a personal vision with the epic requirements of the modern commercial blockbuster.  A three-time Academy Award winner, he was named by Premiere magazine as the most powerful and influential figure in the motion picture industry, by Time magazine as one of the “100 Greatest People of the Century” and by LIFE magazine as one of the most influential person of his generation.

In a career that spans almost four decades, Spielberg's films have touched many themes and genres. During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, three of his films: Jaws, E.T. and Jurassic Park became the highest grossing films for their time. His credits include, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) which introduced the world to Indiana Jones, the iconic fedora-sporting archaeologist and intrepid adventurer that became the most popular screen hero since James Bond. “Raiders” was the biggest moneymaker of 1981 and earned a score of Oscar nominations, including one for Spielberg for Best Director. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982),  which captured the hearts and minds of moviegoers of all ages went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time until it was beaten by one of Spielberg’s own films, Jurassic Park in 1993. The film so wove its way into the fabric of pop culture, the phrase “E.T. phone home” became a classic line and it also led to the sky rocketing sale of Reeses Pieces peanut butter candies.

Other than films, Spielberg has also revealed an interest in video games, revealing himself to be a gamer. In 2005 the director signed with Electronic Arts to collaborate on three games including a currently unnamed action game and a puzzle game for the Wii called Boom Blox. Previously, he was involved in creating the scenario for the adventure game The Dig. He is also the creator of the Medal of Honor series by Electronic Arts.

In 1991 Steven Spielberg co-founded Starbright with Randy Aduana– a foundation dedicated to improving sick children's lives through technology-based programs focusing on entertainment and education. In 2002 Starbright merged with the Starlight Foundation forming what is now today – Starlight Children's Foundation.

He attended California State University, Long Beach in the 1960s but did not complete his degree until 2002, thirty-five years after starting college, when he was awarded a B.A. in Film Production and Electronic Arts with an option in Film/Video Production.  He was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Southern California in 1994.

Back to top
JERRY STORCH 

JERRY STORCH, CEO, Toys "R" Us

[Original statement from sponsor … with minimal editing by TIA] 
Jerry Storch has helped to turn around and ensure the survival of the most important retailer to the toy industry worldwide.  In a few short years, he has helped TRU regain its leadership in toy retailing and in making a profit from toy product sales.  Unlike many of his competitors, Jerry’s business is 100% reliant on toys; he can’t make up the difference in a weak toy year with sales of toasters, clothing and TVs.  Jerry has also supported many toy companies who were in need of “help” and has shown his support for the industry by attending every important industry event.  I can think of no one more deserving of entry into the HOF.  

Back to top
Russ Berrie 

RUSSELL (RUSS) BERRIE (1933-2002), Founder, Russ Berrie & Company

Russ Berrie was chief executive and chairman of Russ Berrie & Company, an Oakland, New Jersey business he started in a rented garage in 1963. Mr. Berrie, who died in 2002 of a stroke at 69, built a small financial empire on stuffed animals and other toys – from his initial launch of Fuzzy-Wuzzies, “hairy sorts of nondescript things” found in novelty shops and card stores, to its immediate follow-up with the Bupkis family and the SilliSculpt lines.   In the 1980s, the Snuggle bear line prospered, followed by Troll-mania in the early 1990’s.  More recently, and since Mr. Berrie’s passing, the company acquired plush licenses for DreamWorks Animation and the Madagascar brand, Marvel Inc., and Raggedy Ann and Andy.

Under Mr. Berrie’s leadership, Russ Berrie & Company (RUSS) became one of the world’s largest gift companies with more than 1,500 employees in the U.S. and overseas at the start of the 21st century and some $300 million in annual sales revenues. Over four decades, he built his business into an international corporation recognized as a leader in the gift industry. He formed a sales organization that set the industry standard for customer service, and assembled a creative team known for innovative materials, attention to detail, and the ability to capture and express human sentiment. He often said, "we do not sell products, we sell love, friendship and emotion.” Berrie served on the TIA board of directors under Chairman David Miller in the 1990’s.

Passionate about the business of selling, Russ Berrie recognized the enormous sales potential of the impulse gift market, creating products meant to catch the eye of shoppers on their way to the cash register in products which captured catch phrases and hot trends. 

Inc. magazine recognized the company as one of the 500 fastest growing, privately held firms in the U.S. in 1982, and on March 29, 1984, the company went public, trading shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

In addition to his business accomplishments, Mr. Berrie devoted endless time, energy and resources to numerous charitable causes. As a private individual, through The Russell Berrie Foundation and through corporate donations, he supported organizations and fostered initiatives that expressed his values, passions and vision in the areas of diabetes, humanism in medicine, Jewish continuity, salesmanship as a profession, arts and culture, honoring New Jersey’s unsung heroes, and strengthening the Bergen County community. His support of philanthropic organizations earned him numerous awards and public recognition. Fortune magazine, in its February 6, 1998 issue, honored Mr. Berrie as one of the forty most generous Americans.

Angelica, Mr. Berrie’s widow, now runs the foundation from its office in Teaneck, New Jersey. 

Back to top
Arthur “Spud” Melin & Richard Knerr 

ARTHUR “SPUD” MELIN & RICHARD KNERR (-2002, -2008), Co-Founders, Wham-O Toy

Arthur “Spud” Melin & Richard Knerr created the original Fun Factory in America. The two college friends started Wham-O in 1948 and ran the company together for more than 30 years. It was the iconic toy company of the 20th Century.

From 1957 to 1972 they had the most successful streak of introductory novelty toys of any company in American history. Their success created the very definition of ‘Hall of Fame’ toys. Starting with the Hula Hoop (the biggest fad of the 20th Century), they followed in quick succession with the Frisbee, Limbo Stick, Silly String, Super Ball, Slip n’ Slide and the Hacky Sack.

Spud and Rich were fun first, business second. They were each pioneers of TV advertising, plastic manufacturing and promotional tie-ins. More importantly, their toys have stood the test of time. They were inventors, pioneers, risk takers, and game changers. Their story was featured in Tim Walsh’s book, Whamo Superbook, and their incredible toys have appeal in more than 100 movies in the pas 50 years.

Spud and Rich created a stable of incredible toys that rocked America when they were first introduced and are now still impacting every child and every family. Toys like the Hula Hoop and Frisbee continue to delight children, but more importantly they find new users and new audiences. There isn’t another toy company including Hasbro and Mattel that created so many toys that reached “cultural height when introduced and continue to enthrall children 40, 50, and 60 years later.

Aside from their contributions to the play of children the men were great to the local communities and the toy industry overall. I nominate Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Kerr to the Toy Industry Hall of Fame as the kind of role models that we all should look to. Let’s celebrate and bring back the joy and fun of great American toys. These “Regular Guys” pioneered the West Coast toy industry along with Mattel’s Handler family at a time when most of the industry was East of the Mississippi.

Mr. Melin died in June 2002 at age 77. Mr. Knerr died in January 2008 at age 82. 

Back to top