TIA Announces Hall of Fame Inductees
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced that it will induct Peter Eio, former president of LEGO Systems, Inc., the late Ray Larsen, founder of RLA Marketing, and the late Sydney Rosen, former owner of Rose-Art, Cra-Z-Art, into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. These individuals were selected for induction by members of TIA 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 a roster of 71 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 be held on February 17, 2017, in conjunction with the annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards gala in New York City.
“We are honored to welcome three true pioneers in the business of toys, Mr. Eio, Mr. Larsen, and Mr. Rosen, into the prestigious Hall of Fame,” said Steve Pasierb, TIA president and CEO. “These extraordinary individuals led careers that continually demonstrated a deep personal dedication to bringing joy, magic, and learning to children around the world. Having their induction ceremony as part of the Toy of The Year Awards gala in February will be a highlight during the evening’s celebration of our great industry.”
- Peter Eio, the former president of LEGO Systems, Inc., has more than 50 years of experience in marketing and general management with leading global consumer brands. For nearly 20 years, he was responsible for building LEGO businesses, first in the UK and subsequently in the U.S. Eio served on the board of the British Toy and Hobby Association from 1985–1988 and was chairman of the Toy Manufacturers of America (now the Toy Industry Association) from 1998–2000. Since retiring in 2001, he has retained a deep interest in the toy industry and was a founding member of the ICTI CARE Foundation that monitors and seeks to improve working conditions in the global toy industry.
- Ray Larsen, founder of RLA Marketing, was a pioneer in the toy industry who got his start at age 19 when he took over Arthur Pisner’s toy business and renamed it Ray Larsen Associates. He remained active in managing the company for over 40 years, until his sudden death in 2012. Larsen grew the company through perseverance, tenacity, strong salesmanship, and personal relationships, transforming it into the nation’s leading sales agency in the toy industry. A true innovator, Larsen introduced an independent in-store service organization for retailers in the mid 1960s. He was also instrumental in guiding manufacturers on packaging and on-shelf presentation. Larsen was gracious, well-mannered, and an entertaining professional in his approach. He was a strong, persistent negotiator whose high personal ethics and integrity were never compromised.
- Sydney Rosen, the former owner of Rose Art, Cra-Z-Art, got his start in the toy industry at his father’s company, Rosebud Art Company, eventually taking over the business and renaming it Rose Art Industries. Under his leadership, the company grew from a small supplier of toys to one of America’s largest toy manufacturers, with $350 million in annual sales and more than 2,500 employees in the U.S. He was also intimately involved in many kid-focused and Jewish philanthropic programs. He was adored by all who knew him including family, friends, and his loyal employees, whom he also considered to be family. Rosen died in 2011 at the age of 94. His enthusiasm and devotion to the industry during a 60-year career is unmatched. His success, leadership, innovation, and charitable contributions are proven.
The Toy Industry Hall of Fame lives alongside the National Toy Hall of Fame in a special exhibit at The Strong Museum in Rochester, New York.
WIT to Honor Actress Geena Davis, Exec Jill Barad at Gala
Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) announced that it will honor Academy Award-winning actor and advocate Geena Davis with a Changemaker Award and Jill Barad with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 WIT Wonder Women Awards Gala on February 19, 2017, in New York City. Both women are confirmed to attend the gala.
The Wonder Women Awards Gala theme is “WIT Changemakers: Playing it Forward”, and will recognize and honor female executives who are creating positive change by giving back, passing on the lessons they’ve learned, and paving the way for future leaders.
Changemaker Award Honoree: Geena Davis. She is co-founder and chair of the Bentonville Film Festival and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. She has been at the forefront of gender equality in film and entertainment and an impactful advocate to the toy industry on the importance of improving gender balance, reducing stereotyping, and creating diverse female characters in kids’ entertainment.
2017’s Lifetime Achievement Honoree: Jill Barad. She is a former chairman and CEO of Mattel, who challenged and shattered the glass ceiling when she became one of the most prominent female chief executives in America. She was one of few women at the helm of a Fortune 500 company, while helping to build Barbie from a $320 million business to a $2 billion global brand.
For more information and to purchase tickets to the Gala, click here.
Toy Exec Lauren Whitehead Needs Liver Transplant
Less than six months ago, Whitehead received news that she had contracted Hepatitis B. Commonly referred to as a “silent killer,” the diagnosis was followed by a rapid deterioration of her liver, and now liver failure. To learn more about her current situation and to donate to the GoFundMe campaign, click here.
Whitehead has held executive positions at Jakks Pacific, Spin Master, MGA Entertainment, and Paramount.