Three Chosen for Toy Industry Hall of Fame

The Toy Industry Hall of Fame lives alongside the National Toy Hall of Fame in a special exhibit at The Strong museum in Rochester, New York.
Photo courtesy The Strong museum

Andrea Barthello, co-founder and COO of ThinkFun Inc.; Stan Lee, former editor-in-chief, publisher and chairman of Marvel Comics; and the late James R. Becker, founder of licensing company Anjar Co., will be inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

The three were selected by members of The Toy Association in recognition of their significant contributions to the industry, and the impact they have had on the lives of children through a lifelong commitment to toys and play.

The induction ceremony will take place at the Ziegfeld Theater on Friday, February 16, 2018, in conjunction with the Toy of the Year Awards gala in New York City. The ceremony kicks off the 115th North American International Toy Fair.

About the 2018 inductees

Andrea Barthello co-founded ThinkFun Inc. in 1985 with her husband, Bill Ritchie. Under her leadership, the company has grown to become a market leader in STEM puzzles and games in the U.S. and around the world. Barthello helped create a new category of games under the ThinkFun brand that aimed to challenge the mind. Those games – including Rush Hour, Zingo!, and Gravity Maze – have won hundreds of awards.

Barthello has been an active member of The Toy Association over the years, serving three terms on the Board of Directors and holding positions on numerous committees. In 2005, she was honored by the Washington Business Journal as one of the region’s most influential women.

Stan Lee has been an important creative force affecting the toy industry over several decades, and his impact on the action figure segment is unparalleled. With several artists, he co-created Spiderman, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and X-Men, to mention just a few of his most prominent characters. He has mentored countless creators of characters, motion pictures, and toy designers, and led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation now owned by Disney. In addition, he headed the first major successful challenge to the industry’s censorship organization, the Comics Code Authority, and forced it to reform its policies. Lee founded the Stan Lee Foundation in 2010 to support programs and ideas that improve access to literacy resources and promote diversity, national literacy, culture, and the arts.

James R. Becker (1921-2011) developed and licensed products in the toy industry for more than 55 years, which helped create global licensing as it’s known today. In 1975, he founded Anjar Co., an international licensing company, and licensed and marketed Othello around the world. Othello has since received numerous awards and is globally recognized as a classic toy of the 20th century.

Prior to founding Anjar, Becker worked with Gumby creator Art Clokey to develop Gumby and Pokey Bendy toys based on the popular cartoon. The Bendy toys were extended to include a multitude of sizes and popular licenses, including the Green Hornet, Popeye, and The Lone Ranger. His other product licensing credits include Battle Dome, Disappearing Magic Milk Bottle, Nerf Ping Pong, Barbie “Really Works” Activity Toys, Flipsiders, Breaking Point, Grabbin Dragons, and more than 500 additional toys and games.

In 2005, Becker was honored with the International Designers & Inventors of Toys Award, and in 2011 he received the TAGIE “In Memoriam” Award from the Chicago Toy & Game Group. Thanks to his experience, charisma, sense of humor, and strong personal relationships, he was able to build Anjar into one of the most successful product development and licensing companies in the world. The toys and games he developed and licensed touched the lives of millions.

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