New York, NY | December 5, 2017 – The Toy Association announced today that it will induct Andrea Barthello, co-founder and COO of ThinkFun Inc., Stan Lee, former editor-in-chief, publisher and chairman of Marvel Comics, and the late James R. Becker, founder of licensing company Anjar Co., into the esteemed Toy Industry Hall of Fame.
These individuals were selected for induction by members of The Toy Association in recognition of their significant contributions to the industry and the impact they have had on the lives of children through a lifelong commitment to toys and play. They will join an impressive roster of 74 toy industry luminaries, including Jim Henson and George Lucas, who have been inducted into the Hall since it was established in 1984. Their induction ceremony will take place on February 16, 2018 in conjunction with the annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards gala in New York City.
“We are honored to welcome Andrea Barthello, Stan Lee, and James Becker into the prestigious Hall of Fame. Their illustrious careers have demonstrated a deep dedication to bringing joy, laughter, and learning to children through toys and magical worlds,” says Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. “Their impact on the toy and children’s entertainment landscape has forever shaped how kids play, and we are looking forward to celebrating their many achievements at the Toy of the Year Awards gala in February.”
ABOUT THE 2018 INDUCTEES
Andrea Barthello co-founded ThinkFun Inc. in 1985 with her husband, Bill Ritchie. Under her leadership as COO, the company has grown to become a market leader in STEM puzzles and games in the U.S. and around the world. Ms. Barthello helped create a new category of games under the ThinkFun brand that aimed to challenge the mind, and those games – including beloved titles like Rush Hour, Zingo!, and Gravity Maze – have gone on to win hundreds of awards. Ms. Barthello has been an active member of The Toy Association over the years, serving three terms on the Board of Directors and holding positions on numerous committees. She was honored by the Washington Business Journal as one of the region’s most influential women in 2005.
Stan Lee has been one of the most important creative forces affecting the toy industry over several decades, and his impact on the action figure segment is unparalleled. With several artists, he co-created Spiderman, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and X-Men – to mention just a few of his most prominent characters. He has mentored countless creators of characters, motion pictures, and toy designers, and led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation now owned by Disney. In addition, he headed the first major successful challenge to the industry’s censorship organization, the Comics Code Authority, and forced it to reform its policies. Mr. Lee founded the Stan Lee Foundation in 2010 to support programs and ideas that improve access to literacy resources and promote diversity, national literacy, culture, and the arts.
The late James R. Becker (1921-2011) developed and licensed products in the toy industry for over 55 years, helping to create global licensing as it’s known today. In 1975, he founded Anjar Co., an international licensing company, and licensed and marketed Othello around the world. Othello has since received numerous awards and is globally recognized as a classic toy of the 20th century. Prior to founding Anjar, Mr. Becker worked with Gumby creator Art Clokey to develop Gumby and Pokey Bendy toys based on the popular cartoon. The Bendy toys were extended to include a multitude of sizes and popular licenses, including the Green Hornet, Popeye, and The Lone Ranger. His other product licensing credits include Battle Dome, Disappearing Magic Milk Bottle, Nerf Ping Pong, Barbie “Really Works” Activity Toys, Flipsiders, Breaking Point, Grabbin Dragons, and more than 500 additional toys and games. Mr. Becker has received the International Designers & Inventors of Toys Award (2005) and the TAGIE “In Memoriam” Award from the Chicago Toy & Game Group (2011). Thanks to his experience, charisma, sense of humor, and strong personal relationships, he was able to build Anjar into one of the most successful product development and licensing companies in the world. The toys and games he developed and licensed touched the lives of millions.
The Toy Industry Hall of Fame lives alongside the National Toy Hall of Fame in a special exhibit at The Strong museum in Rochester, NY. The cutting-edge installation features inductees of both halls under one roof, showcasing the toys beloved by generations and the toy industry trailblazers who helped bring those toys to life.
The 2018 ceremony honoring the latest inductees will take place at the 18th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards on Friday evening, February 16, 2018 at The Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City. The ceremony will kick off the 115th North American International Toy Fair.
For complete biographies and more information
please visit toyassociation.org/HOF
About the Toy Industry Hall of Fame www.toyassociation.org/HOF
In 1984, the Toy Industry Hall of Fame was established to recognize the people who have brought the value of play to the lives of children and adults. Every year for the past three decades, members of the industry have proudly nominated hundreds of men and women — from toy inventors to toy retailers — who have made their mark on the industry and created a love of play in the hearts of children of all ages.
About The Toy Association www.toyassociation.org
Founded in 1916, The Toy Association™, Inc. is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. The Toy Association leads the health and growth of the U.S. toy industry, which has an annual U.S. economic impact of $107.5 billion, and its 950+ members drive the annual $26.5 billion U.S. domestic toy market. The Toy Association serves as the industry’s voice on the developmental benefits of play, and promotes play’s positive impact on childhood development to consumers and media. The organization has a long history of leadership in toy safety, having helped develop the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 40 years ago, and remains committed to working with medical experts, government, consumers, and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play.
As a global leader, The Toy Association produces the world-renowned North American International Toy Fair and Fall Toy Preview; advocates on behalf of members around the world; sustains the Canadian Toy Association; acts as secretariat for the International Council of Toy Industries and International Toy Industry CEO Roundtable; and chairs the committee that reviews and revises America’s widely emulated ASTM F963 toy safety standard.
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