Mary Couzin; Global Toy News Person of the Year 2011


2011 inaugurates the first annual awarding of the “Global Toy News Person of the Year”.  This award will be given to the person who has done the most over the last year to make the greater toy industry a stronger, more enjoyable and far more prosperous place to work. 

This year’s winner is Mary Couzin, President and Founder of the Chicago Toy and Game Group.  Mary has created a series of toy industry events in November that have provided the platform for the creation of new intellectual property, additional profits and revenue for an industry that has badly needed it.  Mary (with some help from her friends) has for the most part achieved this all on her own.

Mary’s work in 2011 has been the culmination, but by no means the end, of years of labor.  Mary began her efforts in 2003 with the creation of the Chicago Toy and Game Fair which this year drew over 20,000 people.  Its purpose is to create a venue in which toy manufacturers can, without having to filter through retailers, get to meet their consumers face to face.  By doing so, they are able to experience what has turned out to be one huge focus group. 

In addition, the event affords an opportunity for consumers to meet the inventors who create the toys and games they have grown to love.  As a result, Mary has created a happening in which inventors have star status and manufacturers learn how to make better products.  Visited by thousands each year, this event has helped create new jobs, new stars and a great deal of additional revenue. 

Part of the ChiTAG Fair is the Young Inventor Challenge, a chance for children to invent toys and games and show them to the public as well as the toy and game industry. This year there were over 150 children from the United States and abroad. The senior category winner this year received licensing agreement from a toy company.

Mary didn’t stop there and in 2008 inaugurated T&G Inventor Con (The Toy & Game Inventor Conference with Social Media at Play and the Inventor Summit).  This year, drawing over 250 attendees from all over the world, these events bring industry people, bloggers, the media, and most important of all, aspiring toy and game inventors, together in one place at tone time.   Most important of all, new inventors have been “discovered” and the industry has benefited with new sources of great products. 

This year saw the addition of The Toy & Game Professional Inventor SummitThis event allows established inventors to meet with toy and game companies and show their new creations in a secure and convenient environment.  In turn, it allows companies to present inventors with their ‘wish lists.’  This is great for both the inventors and the companies as it is time efficient and saves travel costs.  Even more importantly, inventors can’t get everywhere so toy companies get to look at new concepts they may never have seen.  Some feel that this may actually turn out to be Mary’s most important contribution.

2008 was a big year for Mary as she also established the TAGIE awards which have become one of the two most glittering nights of the year for the toy industry. This year, over 450 industry members gathered to honor toy and game inventors for their lifetime work as well as today’s rising stars.  

In addition to her Chicago events, Mary puts on one of Toy Fair’s biggest (and most interesting) parties each year.  Try getting five hundred drunken toy inventors and their friends in one room at one time and you will see what I mean.

Sometimes amusing, other times a muse, and always a friend to the industry, this year’s Global Toy News Toy Industry Person of the Year Award is richly deserved by Mary Couzin who continues to make this industry a better and richer place to work.


31 thoughts

  1. Congratulations, Mary, on such a well deserved honor. You are an amazing woman with wonderful and thoughtful ideas, and a seemingly endless amount of energy to execute them. What you have created is priceless to the toy industry and most especially to the inventor community. We all think the world of you!
    Thank you, Richard, for voicing on everyone’s behalf, the amazing tale of Mary Couzin. Well done!

  2. Congratulations Mary! A well deserved award having successfully created one of the most exciting events in our industry.
    Having been to the very first Chicago Toy and Game fair in 2003 and now being able to see what you have accomplished since then, I am surely not alone in being incredibly impressed over the results.
    I travel to Chicago from Sweden every year to attend T&GCon as well as Chitag and am amazed at the increased interest the show is getting outside of North America. Not only in European countries but many others as well throughout the world.
    T&GCon and Chitag have both become perfect events to meet colleagues from around the world in a relaxed and friendly environment.
    Thank you so much for all the hard work, you have created an important and invaluable resource for all of us in the industry.

  3. Congratulations Mary on a such a deserving award. The growth and importance of the CHITAG event has certainly been dramatic.
    Eventhough we are a Hong Kong based company, we mark this event as a “must” to attend. We’ve been an exhibitor and participant and we look to this show to “kick off” the commercial toy season.
    I look forward to seeing how the show from its humble beginnings will continue to blossom into one of the toy circuits premier events.
    Well done
    Jon Meyers
    Basic Concepts

  4. Congratulations Mary! They couldn’t have chosen a more deserving person for this First EVER award. Your tireless efforts have inspired a new generation of toy/game inventors and your efforts will continue to change our world for the better.

  5. Congrats on the recent well deserved award. It has been a pleasure getting to know you over the past few years and I look forward to continuing to grow in the industry and getting to know you better. I am inspired by your enthusiasm and dedication and the tremendous respect you have from your peers in the industry. I am so grateful to have learned about Taggie and can honestly say, I owe part of my short term success to the people and contacts I made, thanks to you.

  6. In football, they use the term “Hail Mary” when making a desperate miracle pass hoping to come from behind to win a game. I’m a new inventor and am lucky enough(I told her so)to have the honor to work with her in the development of my game. Mary is a unique person and the most modest, humble person I’ve ever met. Mary should have trophy named after her for future awards for what she has done for the industry and the people she has worked with. Hail Mary

  7. Well deserved in deed. I have had the privilege of working with Mary on a number of these events and even though it sometimes felt like I was working for her full time for five or six weeks of the year, my efforts were about one hundredth of one percent of what she was doing.
    She is amazing. Congratulations.
    Mike Hirtle
    (Nicely done Richard!)

  8. A ginormous and heartfelt THANK YOU to each of you for your wonderful and very generous comments. Absolutely none of this would have been possible without your support for the events through the years. You helped build them to make them what they are. I can’t help but think about the following, which we have all heard many times:
    The six most important words: I admit I made a mistake. The five most important words: You did a good job. The four most important words: What is YOUR opinion? The three most important words: If you please. The two most important words: Thank You. The one most important word: We. The least important word: I.

  9. Mary, in an idea business, you have been a fountain of fresh ideas to move the industry forward. You have found ways to connect all the players needed for successful toys and games; inventors, marketers, and consumers.Your tireless energy and efforts have deservedly been recognized by GTN. Congratulations!

  10. Congratulations Amazing Mary! You well deserve the accolades. Please take in and enjoy all of the outpourings of gratitude. You are truly amazing, generous and unceasingly inspirational in all you have done and continue to do for inventors and the industry.
    ARTFAB (One of Mary’s favorite saying — “A rising tide floats all boats”)! You live it and I thank you from my little seat on the boat.

    Being back in the TOY industry the past two year, I concur that you are one special “TOY” person and very well deserving of this award.
    After hosting the “Chicago Meet and Greet” last evening you are even more deserving of this award by your fellow peers.
    Congratulations again.
    Smile and Enjoy your 2011 peer recognition —
    Remember, the new year starts next week!

  12. What a wonderful tribute to Mary, whose brains, spirit and tenacity have changed the industry and whose kindness and generosity are equally legendary. Congratulations, Mary!

  13. Congratulations Mary! You have done so much for inventors, publishers, players, and the industry. The TAGIES were a turning point for me when my love of inventing went from a hobby to a career. Thank you!

  14. So well deserved Mary, congratulations for the spirit in which you lead us!! You are always so quick to give credit to others it is wonderful to see you receive this award!! Hats off to Mr Gottlieb for the award!!
    Could not happen to a nicer, better person!!

  15. Wonderful article about such a deserving award recipient! Thank you for recognizing Mary’s many years of blood, sweat and tears devoted to the industry she loves. I’m so proud of Mary. Thank you!

  16. Mary Couzin has tirelessly given of herself year after year to make a difference in our industry. She deserves all the accolades we can give her. There is no one like her and we owe her so much! Congratulations Mary!

  17. Go Mary! Go Mary! Go Mary! (I’m doing the mixing bowl for ya over here in Cincinnati!) 😀
    Congratulations – well deserved. You are an inspiration to me and so many others. Thanks for all you do! We love ya!
    Michelle Spelman

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