The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has opened voting to the American public for their annual "Toy Of The Year" awards program (TOTYs). This award is the most prestigious recognition that can be bestowed on a toy or game itself in the industry. This year's nominees for Outdoor Toy of the Year include new models of two best-loved, classic toys with Cincinnati roots.
The Original Big Wheel has been reintroduced this year by Kids Only, Inc., a division of Jakks Pacific Inc. The new version of the Big Wheel has a few modifications, but the overall look and feel recaptures the original design, appealing to the nostalgic memories of today's parents.
Debuting in 1969 by Louis Marx Toy Company, the Big Wheel was invented by Ray Lohr, a Cincinnati native and Xavier University alumna. Born in Cincinnati in 1912, Lohr worked as an inventor and industrial engineer at Marx in Erie, Pennsylvania for 37 years, where his accomplishments included hundreds of mechanical patents in addition to the Big Wheel.
Imperial Toy Company has created a new version of an unmistakable icon in the toy industry: the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. This year's TOTY nominee, the Cozy Coupe Go Bubbles, is a smaller push-toy version of the original ride-on toy Cozy Coupe. It blows bubbles when the child squeezes a trigger on the push handle.
Originally designed for Little Tikes by Cincinnati native, Jim Mariol, the Cozy Coupe made it's debut in 1979. By the early 1990's, it was the best selling car in North America, outselling the Toyota Camry, the Ford Taurus, and the Honda Accord. Mariol is a University of Cincinnati Design Art and Architecture Program alumna. While his invention of the Cozy Coupe is his popular claim to fame, Mariol (now retired) was a prolific professional designer and inventor of not just toys but a variety of products including clock radios for Sears Roebuck, doorbells, kitchen range hoods, shop vacuums, room humidifiers and ceiling fans for Emerson, medical devices for Hill-Rom, and tent campers for Nimrod.
The original design and recognizable red and yellow color scheme remained relatively unchanged for many years. Recently, new iterations have been introduced in a range of colors and styles including a blue police car, a black truck and a pink version. The Cozy Coupe celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2009 by getting a makeover that included a redesign of the front end - giving it a deliberate face with the headlights as eyes and the "grill" becoming a mouth.
In the last 10 years, Cincinnati toymakers have produced two TOTY winners. Bang Zoom Design LTD's "Hokey Pokey Elmo," for Fisher Price won in 2003. In 2007, Soeda Design created the winning "Disney Pirates of the Caribbean Black Pearl Ultimate Pirate Ship Playset" for Zizzle.
The awards program is comprised of 13 categories:
- Activity Toy of the Year
- Boy Toy of the Year
- e-Connected Toy of the Year
- Educational Toy of the Year
- Game of the Year
- Girl Toy of the Year
- Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year
- Innovative Toy of the Year
- Outdoor Toy of the Year
- Preschool Toy of the Year
- Property of the Year
- Specialty Toy of the Year
- Toy of the Year (Overall)
The TIA invites the public to cast their votes for this year's winners electronically online here.
Voting deadline is Sunday, January 13th. The TOTY 2013 voting process includes input not only from consumers, but also members of the Association, retailers and journalists.
Winners will be announced at the gala awards ceremony in New York City on February 9th, 2013.
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