Q&A: Bob Moog, Chair of Toy Industry Hall of Fame Subcommittee, Discusses Changes to Selection Process for Posthumous Candidates

toy-industry-hofMarch 26, 2021 | Toy News Tuesday editors sat down with Bob Moog, president of University Games and chair of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame subcommittee on posthumous selection, to learn about recent changes to the program’s selection process for deceased candidates, and why the Hall of Fame continues to be so important to the toy and play community.

TNT: Thanks for joining us. First, can you provide some background on the Toy Industry Hall of Fame and how the inductees are annually selected?

BM: The Hall of Fame was started in 1985. The first inductees represented the history of the toy industry in America and they included seven legends (Jerome M. Fryer, A. C. Gilbert, Marvin Glass, Nathan Greenman, Herman G. Fisher, Merrill L. Hassenfeld, and Louis Marx). The next year, Raymond P. Wagner, Charles Raizen, and George Parker were inducted. Since then, the policy changed to have the Hall of Fame Committee nominate candidates in two categories: living and deceased, and then to have The Toy Association membership and the public vote for those they find most deserving.

TNT: How does the committee determine who should be on the ballot for the Hall of Fame?

BM: The Committee carefully considers each nomination and measures it against the criteria, which includes long-time commitment to the toy industry, participation in causes for children, lasting contribution to the toy industry, and support of The Toy Association. We recently noticed an issue when deciding candidates – while the living candidates are well-known by the Committee and the voters, the posthumous candidates are often not well-known, and the process doesn’t allow for them to be deeply researched.

TNT: How has the Committee decided to change the process for posthumous candidates and why?

BM: Starting in 2022, the posthumous candidates will be recommended by the new subcommittee I am chairing. The recommendation will then go to the Hall of Fame Committee to vote on before a slate of candidates is passed on to The Toy Association Board of Directors for approval and induction.

TNT: How will the subcommittees process be any different than the process used for previous inductees?

BM: The new process is dependent on a hard-working subcommittee that will go beyond the current practice of “reacting” to nominations. The Hall of Fame Committee and its chairman, Alan Hassenfeld, believe that with 250 years of posthumous candidates, we need a more thorough process to find any deserving person who might have “slipped through the cracks.” We are taking all previous nominations and adding candidates based on contributions made to the U.S. toy industry since 1800. It is a huge task but really interesting and somewhat exciting, if you are a toy nerd!

TNT: You mention that the current process is “reactive.” How is this new process more “proactive?”

BM: Great question. We have divided the last 250 years into four periods:

1780-1900 – Toy Pioneers 1900-1949 – The Industrialists 1950-1989 – The Golden Era 1990-2021 – The Modern Era

Each year, we will be nominating four to five candidates – one from each era. We are also reserving the right to nominate a fifth candidate at large. The list that we have pulled together so far has more than 30 deserving candidates on it.

TNT: Why not just put all 30 in at once if they are all deserving?

BM: Being inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame is a huge honor. The honor and prestige increase as truly deserving and exceptional people are added. However, our feeling is that the honor is not as special when one is part of a big herd. Having four people per year will allow us to “catch up” on more than 200 years of contributions, while still making the induction ceremony special for the families and surviving companies of the inductees.

TNT: Why is it so important to honor and remember all these past figures of the industry?

BM: It is all about the stories. To truly appreciate the incredible industry that we are in, you have to treasure the history and battles that our founding toy fathers had to create the toy industry as we know it today. Two of our subcommittee members, Joel Berger and Robert Pasin, have relatives in the Hall of Fame. Both were immigrants who came from Europe with nothing and sacrificed and scraped together a few dollars to start toy companies that still exist today: Cardinal and Radio Flyer, respectively. We are a $25 billion industry that rests on the shoulders of those immigrants and many other teachers, risk takers, and entrepreneurs. Who doesn’t love a great story?

TNT: What if your committee has missed someone? Is there still a process for industry members to nominate new candidates for the posthumous induction?

BM: Yes, definitely. Nominations from the industry and the public may be made for both living and deceased candidates on The Toy Association website. General Hall of Fame nominations will open on May 3 and will remain open for six weeks, closing on June 11. Anyone who would like to submit a richly deserving posthumous candidate who has made a deep and lasting impact on the toy industry for consideration may contact me directly as well.

TNT: It is great to hear that more of the toy industry’s past will be honored and recognized. Can you give us a little hint about who might be getting in over the next few years?

BM: We haven’t finalized it yet but expect to see some great inventors and some people who made intergenerational contributions to the toy industry. Most likely, these will be people who you have never heard of, but you will know their contributions well.

Nominations for the Toy Industry Hall of Fame 2022 will open on May 3, 2021. An announcement with a link to the nomination form will be made public at that time. Separately, nominations for the new posthumous slate of candidates may be sent to Bob Moog, chair of the Hall of Fame subcommittee on posthumous selection.