Is Chicago the Toy and Game Inventing Capital of the World?

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ChicagoTheatreSign Rumor has it that “Da Mare,” Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, is planning a press conference to announce Chicago as Toy and Game Inventing Capital of the World.   If this does in deed happen, it will be owed to the city’s rich history of toy invention and the efforts of Mary Couzin to have that history recognized.

Mary not only wants to make Chicago The Toy and Game Inventing Capital of the World, she wants toy and game inventors to be recognized as the celebrities they are.  One way that is going to happen is to have the Mayor act as Honorary Chair and be present November 19, 2010 at the Museum of Science and Industry  for the Toy and Game Inventor of the Year Awards

Is the “City of Big Shoulders” also the Toy and Game Inventing Capital of the World?  Here is the case for that to be true:

The American Library Association—based in Chicago—has the largest gaming initiative in the world. This initiative, supported by Verizon Foundation, Hasbro, Top Trumps, Wizards of the Coast and the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, is to bring board games into all ALA libraries.

Glass, the largest toy and game inventing company in history, was founded in Chicago in 1941. They were responsible for such household toys as Mouse Trap, Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots, Operation, Lite Brite, Ants in the Pants and SIMON.

Spinoffs from Marvin Glass Studio abound and include:

1. Big Monster Toys, the world’s current largest toy and game inventing company, I in the West Loop. It is estimated that 78% of households have Big Monster Toys on their shelves.

2. Lund and Company (formerly on Western Ave and now in Oak Park), which invented TMX Elmo, the fastest selling toy in history. Bruce Lund, owner, is the one who proposed the declaration of Chicago as Toy and Game Capitol of the world.

3. Rehkemper is a very well-known group of inventors here. Steve and Jeff Rehkemper won Toy Inventors of the Year last year and have had many of their products be nominated and win Toy of the Year.

Famous toys and games to come out of Chicago include:  Simon, Mr. Machine, Ants in the Pants, Operation, Mr. Bucket, Catch Phrase, Cosmic Catch, Bulls Eye Ball, Guesstures, Helmet Heros, Brain Warp, Slobbering Sam, Scramball, Tornado Rex, Showdown Yahtzee, Uno Card Attack, TMX Elmo, Fireball Island, Inchworm, Mystery Date Game, Hands Down, Lucky Ducks, Mouse Trap, Lite Brite, Silly Six Pins, Pretty Pretty Princess, Willie Go Boom, Stretch Armstrong, Reel Schpeel and hundreds more.

So, does Chicago qualify as Toy and Game Capital of the World?  They have da Bears, they have da Mare and they might as well have da honor of being the Toy and Game Inventing Capital of the World.

There are a huge number of toy companies, associations, retailers and inventors located in Chicago.  I have listed them below.  Not being from Chicago, I have depended upon others for the list. If I have inadvertently left out anyone or any company, please write in, let us know and we will add them immediately.

Toy and Game Companies in Chicago / Chicagoland – by the following categories:



Organizations, Suppliers, Retailers (excluding retailers that are found everywhere, but including headquarter operations)

Professional Inventors/Inventing Companies and Individuals:

Rehkemper Invention and Design

BMT – Big Monster Toys

 Kaskey Kids

Brainy Chick Inc. and The Game Aisle

David Hoyt

Jeff Knurek

Rick Gurolnick

Blue Fly Toy


Hemmet Jha

wheelwell NFP


John Spinello

 Ed Hall

 Fun House Invention and Design

 Hartdesign! Ltd.


 David Glickson

 Really Neat Stuff

 Fertig Stubenfoll Design Group

 Lund and Company


 Radio Flyer

 HL Games

 Made By Hands

 Modernized Toys

 Shure Products



 Wilson Sporting Goods


 North American Bear

 Slanguage Gamez


 Corgi Classics

 Aware Toys

 McDonald’s Corporation – biggest supplier of toys in the world (Happy meals)



 RC2/Learning Curve

 Ty, Inc.

 Learning Resources


 SoftPlay books

 Kidz Delight

 Kiddy Kap

 Miggle Toys


 Revell-Monogram LLC

 Chenille Kraft Company


 Fun Street/Rukus

 Fibre Craft

 Mayfair Games

 High Voltage Software

 HughesWho Productions

 Organizations, Reps, Consultants


American Specialty Toy Retailers Association

Toys 'N Stuff, BGN Sales Group LLC

National Lekotek Center


Marbles, Sandbox Industries (expanded out of Chicago)


The Marketing Store


George Delaney

Best of Best

Chicago Toy and Game Group:

Chicago Toy and Game Fair

Toy and Game Inventor Conference

Games for Educators

Toy and Game inventor of the Year Awards




6 thoughts

  1. As the head of inventor relations for Hasbro I think my opinion on this matter should carry at least a little weight. While there are excellent inventors in a lot of places all over the world, I definitely consider Chicago to be the heart of the toy and game inventing business.
    Mike Hirtle

  2. WOW! I knew there were a lot of toy inventors in Chicago, but had no idea there were that many. Thanks to all of the original big guys up there that started it all. You essentially created toy inventing as an industry and made it possible for companies like mine to exist. My company, SG Labs, is close to Chicago – only a few hours south of there in Illinois. Two of our inventions on the shelf this year are Techno Source’s Rubik’s Slide and Cra-Z-Art’s Electra Doodle. If Chicago isn’t the toy inventing capital of the world, I don’t know where else would be!

  3. Thank you for posting this fantastic news! Sincere thanks to Mary Couzin, Bruce Lund, Steve & Jeff Rehkemper and all the inventors, manufacturers, sales reps, retailers and cheerleaders for the toy & game industry. I am proud to be a Chicago native and proud to be a part of this family of creative thinkers!
    ChiTag & TAGI are going to be great events.
    Hip, Hip, Hooray!
    Gina Manola

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