NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced today that Judith (Judy) Ellis, founder and chair of the nation's first baccalaureate program in Toy Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the late Russ Berrie, former chief executive and chairman of Russ Berrie & Company, have been selected as the next inductees into the esteemed Toy Industry Hall of Fame.
Established in 1984, the Hall of Fame comprises an impressive roster of 59 individuals who have been previously recognized for their significant contributions to the growth and success of the toy industry. The two newest inductees were nominated from within the toy industry and selected by a vote of TIA members and previous Hall of Fame honorees.
"TIA is pleased to welcome Ms. Ellis and Mr. Berrie into the prestigious Hall of Fame," said Carter Keithley, TIA president. "They join a group of industry visionaries who have revolutionized the toy industry and have had a significant impact on the lives of children the world over."
Judy Ellis is the founder and chair of the nation's first baccalaureate program in Toy Design, which she launched at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1989. In this position, she has created an environment for her students that emphasizes ethical design and commitment to community. The FIT program boasts more than 350 alumni who work in leading toy design, manufacturing and inventor groups throughout the United States and across the globe. An estimated 3,500+ products have been designed by FIT Toy Design Alumni – including Hasbro's Elefun Busy Ball Popper, winner in the Infant / Toddler category at the 2012 TOTY Awards; Mattel Fisher-Price's Sing-a-Ma-Jigs, winner in the Innovative and Preschool categories at the 2011 TOTY Awards; and Crayola's Crayon Town, winner in the Activity category at the 2010 TOTY Awards. Ms. Ellis has received two SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Faculty Service and Distinguished Classroom Faculty, the FIT President's Award for Faculty Excellence, and an award from the national Women in Toys organization for outstanding contribution to the industry. She holds a BFA in Communication Design from the Parsons School of Design.
The late Russ Berrie was chief executive and chairman of Russ Berrie & Company, an Oakland, New Jersey business he founded in a rented garage in 1963. Mr. Berrie, who passed away in 2002 of a stroke, built a small financial empire on stuffed animals and other toys – from his initial launch of Fuzzy-Wuzzies to its immediate follow-up with the Bupkis family and the SilliSculpt lines. In the 1980s, the Snuggle bear line prospered, followed by Troll-mania in the early 1990s. More recently, and since Mr. Berrie's passing, the company acquired plush licenses for DreamWorks Animation and the Madagascar brand, Marvel Inc., and Raggedy Ann and Andy. Under Mr. Berrie's leadership, Russ Berrie & Company (RUSS) became one of the largest gift companies in the world, with more than 1,500 employees around the world and some $300 million in annual sales. Mr. Berrie also devoted endless time, energy and resources to numerous charitable causes; Fortune magazine honored him as one of the "40 most generous Americans" in its February 6, 1998 issue.
For complete biographies and more information about the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, please visit ToyAssociation.org/HOF
The 2013 ceremony honoring the latest inductees will take place at the 13th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards on Saturday evening, February 9, 2013 at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The ceremony will kick off the 110th American International Toy Fair. Ms. Ellis is expected to be present to accept her award in person.
About the Toy Industry Association (TIA)
TIA is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and bringing toys and youth entertainment products to kids of all ages, representing more than 550 companies who account for approximately 85% of domestic toy sales. Toy safety is the number one priority for the toy industry. TIA has a long history of leadership in toy safety including the development of the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 30 years ago, and working with government, consumers and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play. For more information, please visit www.toyassociation.org or www.toyinfo.org.
SOURCE Toy Industry Association