The Toy Foundation’s annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards were handed out in an evening ceremony in New York City on Friday, September 29.
The event unites representatives from the toy industry — including toy manufacturers, retailers, journalists, academics, and other experts — to recognize innovation and achievement in play and raise funds for The Toy Bank, the foundation’s program to donate toys to children around the world.
The 2023 nominations acknowledge some of the best releases from the past year, with 122 toys, games, and properties across 17 product categories represented. Classic brands and franchises continue to drive toy sales. This nominations reflected this trend, including classics such as Barbie, Star Wars, Pokémon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, LEGO, Magic 8 Ball, and Hot Wheels.
Among the TOTY award winners for 2023 were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutant Mayhem (action figure of the year), Barbie The Movie dolls (doll of the year), and LEGO® The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell™ (grown-up toy of the year). The Barbie franchise also walked away with license of the year.
Two of the most coveted TOTY awards — Toy of the Year and People’s Choice — will be unveiled on November 20 as a lead-up to the holiday season. Voting for the People’s Choice category is open until November 10. The winning toys and games from last night’s ceremony are on The Toy Foundation website.
The evening also celebrated individual achievement with its Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This year’s inductees include Mary Couzin (People of Play founder), Rose O’Neill (Kewpie doll inventor), and John Lloyd Wright (Lincoln Log inventor), among other luminaries.
Pamela Mastrota, Executive Director of The Toy Foundation (TTF), shared with Toy Tales how the organization keeps pace with the toy industry, “The toy industry is constantly innovating, from business operations to toy development, and The Toy Foundation is adapting and growing right alongside it. In 2022, The Toy Foundation Board of Trustees decided on a new course of action that adds value to The Toy Association’s membership at large and we are at a critical moment to partner with small, medium, and large companies, find programmatic synergies that support the company’s own business goals, and collectively, achieve a greater impact.” She adds, “While there’s competition in the industry, when it comes to philanthropy, I find there is a greater sense of community. We all joined this business for the love of play and The Toy Foundation’s mission is to be the uniting force for the collective philanthropy of our industry for the benefit of all children in need.”
Since being established in 2003, TTF has provided $225 million in toys to more than 26 million underserved children coping with serious illness, enduring temporary home placements in the foster care system, living with domestic violence, and/or dealing with natural disasters. Of the organization’s philanthropic work, Mastrota explained, “The Toy of the Year Awards are a critical fundraiser for The Toy Foundation to continue its work supporting children in need and we’re grateful the toy industry continues to support us year after year. We believe in a world where every child has the opportunity to experience comfort, joy, and the extraordinary physical, emotional and educational benefits of play.”
Approximately $800,000 US was raised during the TOTY celebration. The fundraising continues with an online auction, open to the public, through October 3.
The Toy of the Year event kicks off Toy Fair New York, one of the toy industry’s most anticipated annual events. Held this year from September 30 to October 3 and organized by The Toy Association, the trade show welcomes new and seasoned exhibitors in categories such as educational toys, collectibles, outdoor play, games, and more.
Learn more about The Toy Foundation and its work to promote the benefits of play.