The US Toy Industry Association (TIA) has eliminated its gendered Boy and Girl Toy of the Year categories and added six new ones, including Collectible of the Year and Doll of the Year. It has also introduced a more transparent judging system for the 17th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards, which are now open for submissions.
Additional new categories will recognize the best action figure, construction toy, rookie and vehicle of the year.
The changes are aimed to keep the TOTY Awards relevant and more representative of industry innovation and toycos of all sizes.
For the new judging process, 25 judges from toy and play experts to retailers, academics and journalists will rank each submission online by product creativity, originality, innovation, design, promotion, excellence and marketplace acceptance. A live debate will then be held if any categories do not draw an undisputed roster of finalists.
The awards finalists will be revealed in November with the opening of five ballots for consumers, retailers (one each for mass and specialty), media and TIA members. Public voting will also launch and run through mid-January 2017 at ToyAwards.org.
Toy, game and license submissions across a total of 14 TOTY categories can now be made at TOTYawards.org through September 30.
A complete list of the new categories can be found here.
At last year’s awards ceremony, Doc McStuffins and Star Wars were among the big winners earning Toy of the Year and Property of the Year nods, respectively. In total, more than 700 toys were submitted in 2016 by more than 200 companies.
This year’s TOTY Awards ceremony is slated for February 17, and will be held in New York a day before the start of the industry’s annual US trade show Toy Fair New York.