Toy Hall of Fame Gets New Additions

The Toy Industry Association will induct five new members into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame next February at the Toy of the Year Awards.

The new honorees include Jill Barad, former chairman and chief executive officer of Mattel; Horst Brandstätter, president of Playmobil/Brandstätter; the late Jack Friedman, former chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Jakks Pacific; and the late co-founders of Wham-O, Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr.

The five individuals were selected by TIA members in recognition of their significant contributions to the industry and the impact they have made on the lives of children. 

They will join a roster of 62 toy industry luminaries in a ceremony that will take place as part of the 14th annual Toy of the Year awards on Feb. 15 in New York City, which will kick off the 111th American International Toy Fair.

“TIA is pleased to welcome these outstanding icons of the industry into the prestigious Hall of Fame,” says Carter Keithley, president, TIA. “Their vision, creativity and perseverance has revolutionized the industry and helped to bring the magic of play to children around the globe.”

Jill Barad joined Mattel in 1981 as an employee in the company’s novelty section. Shortly thereafter she began her rise through the ranks and was promoted to director of the Barbie brand, reestablishing the Barbie doll as an American icon and growing the business to nearly $2 billion worldwide at that time. Barad also held the positions of executive vice president of marketing and product development, then president and chief operating officer and finally chairman and chief executive officer, becoming one of only four women to helm a Fortune 500 company in the late 1990s. During her tenure, Mattel committed $25 million to name one of the country’s pre-eminent children’s hospitals–Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.

Horst Brandstätter has dedicated 61 years to the toy industry to date and is the sole owner and president of geobra Brandsätter and head of Brandstätter Holding, better known as the manufacturer of Playmobil toys. In 1958, the company experienced a huge sales success by first introducing the U.S. “hula hoop” trend into the European market. Brandstätter then hired Hans Beck as his first model maker to think of a new play system, leading to the Playmobil figurine, which made its debut at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1974. Close to 3 billion Playmobil figures have been manufactured since, and today the company employs more than 3,700 people.

Jack Friedman was a pioneer in the toy, licensing and video game industries who co-founded Jakks Pacific in January 1995 and served as its chairman and chief executive officer through March 31, 2010. Under his leadership the company’s portfolio grew to more than 80 percent licensed products and became a top 5 U.S. publicly-traded, diversified toy company. Before Jakks, Friedman led LJN Toys, guiding the company into licensed products based on TV shows–a new frontier for toy companies in the 1970s. After the sale of LJN to MCA in 1985, Jack went on to form video game company THQ in 1989 and served as its CEO until 1995. Friedman was also a generous philanthropist and supporter of the Jakks Cares program, which has donated more than $50 million worth of toys and school supplies to children around the world.

Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr were lifelong friends who started Wham-O in 1948 in South Pasadena, Calif., and ran the company together for more than 30 years. Their first products were novelty items made in the garage of Knerr’s parents and sold via mail order in the Wall Street Journal. Their company was named after the sound produced by their first product–a slingshot. Over the course of three decades, they introduced some of the most iconic toys of the 20th century including the Frisbee, Limbo Stick, Silly String, Super Ball, Slip n’ Slide and the Hacky Sack.