Rest In Play - 2020 - 2029

R.I.P. - Julian Page

2023-02-03 16:47:55

VTech’s Julian Page passed away suddenly on January 3rd, and his funeral will be held next week. Julian spent over 25 years in the toy industry, holding a variety of positions with Hasbro, Mega B...rands and Mattel. Most recently, he has been working as National Account manager at VTech, a role he held for over six years. At just 54 years old, Julian leaves his wife Vicky and two daughters, whom he often referred to as his ‘Three Page Girls’. Julian was a great personality and was well respected, not just within the companies he worked at, but by all his customers past and present, his colleagues at VTech and his many friends within the UK toy trade and around the world. READ MORE...Show more


Denni Rivette

2023-01-28 07:38:45

A Tribute from Steve Rehkemper: A Vietnam Veteran and a toy industry veteran, Denni Rivette, passed away in Hong Kong on January 20, 2023 at the age of 80. Denni was a gifted illustrator and produc...t designer throughout his long career which started in the 70's at Marvin Glass and Associates where he created many playful products, one of which has endured the test of time and is still sold today, the Hot Lips Telephone. After leaving Marvin Glass in the early 80's, Denni started a design consultancy in Chicago where he worked for many toy and consumer products companies. One of his earliest independent playthings was called Glazers, a squirtgun built into sunglasses. In the 90's Denni moved to Hong Kong to work for Tai Nam Industrial Co Ltd where he designed a continuous stream of toys across all categories for countless customers until he retired in 2007. Denni is survived by his wife Tammy Leung and was an extremely happy fun loving person until just days before his passing.Show more

Morrisett was a co-founder of Children’s Television Workshop, now called Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” and served as its chairman of the board of trustees f...or more than 30 years before becoming a Lifetime Honorary Trustee, according to the Workshop.Show more

Longtime CFO of game and toy distributor ACD Distribution Marilyn Maher passed away in Henderson, Nevada on January 2 after a brief illness. She was 71. The Maher family had gathered to celebrate th...e holidays in Nevada where she and her husband planned to retire. Maher became Chief Financial Officer of ACD after the purchase of the company in 2007 by her son Robert Maher, Jr. (who is CEO, see "Interview with ACD’s New Owner"), and had served in the role since then. She and her husband, Robert Sr., have been splitting time between Middleton, Wisconsin (where ACD is headquartered) and their home in Oak Brook, Illinois since the acquisition. Earlier in her career Maher also served as Executive Director of the YWCA in Freeport, Illinois.Show more

R.I.P. - Tom Karen

2023-01-05 17:18:25

March 20, 1926 – December 31, 2022 A prolific designer who had a hand in designing a host of 1970s creations including the Raleigh Chopper, Bond Bug car and marble run toy has died. Tom Karen, who ...lived in Cambridge, died aged 96 on New Year's Eve surrounded by his family, a statement said. The industrial designer was born in Vienna, Austria, and arrived in England in 1942 during World War Two. A museum in Letchworth, Hertfordshire - currently hosting a dedicated exhibition - called him a "true great". In the statement confirming Mr Karen's death, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation - which runs the town's Museum at One Garden City - said he had overseen some of the UK's most iconic designs. READ MORE....Show more


Toy World is sad to report that industry veteran Les Cooke passed away peacefully at his home on 15th October. Les’s former colleague and close friend, Bob Brechin, shared his memories of Les wit...h Toy World. When Bob joined Palitoy in 1967 as a toy designer, Les was responsible for the marketing of Action Man, which had been licensed the previous year from Hasbro. Les famously once said: “I had the best job in the toy industry – Action Man’s first Brand manager.” “Les was quick to realise that Action Man provided more play scenarios than solely military adventures,” Bob explains. “Attending a research study, he noticed that one little boy was playing with the Mountain and Arctic Trooper Action Man as Scott of the Antarctic. This inspired Les to develop a range of adventure sets, which I was instructed to design. Action Man began to live up to his name, took on many roles and became a truly British icon.” Action Man was named Toy of the Decade in 1980, after winning the title Toy of the Year in its first outing. In 1968, the Palitoy brand and its Coalville factory were bought by new owners General Mills. Les became Marketing director and was instrumental in introducing many iconic lines, including the hairstyling and makeup toy, Girls World; pocket-sized fashion doll, Pippa and the Discovery Time pre-school range. When the Star Wars phenomenon exploded, Palitoy became the UK distributor of toys developed by sister company Kenner. Bob tells us that Les was loath to market the Star Wars range alongside Palitoy’s flagship Action Man concept, nervous about relying on the success of an unknown film to sell toys. He was persuaded by Kenner president, Bernie Loomis, who declared: “Star Wars will go on for twenty years.” After seeing the film, Les agreed with him. Palitoy owner General Mills began to pursue global branding, introducing more ranges from the US to add to the success of Star Wars. As the likes of Care Bears joined the company’s portfolio, many of the classic ranges developed by Palitoy – including Action Man – started to be phased out. Les resigned from the company to join outgoing UK MD Bob Wilson to establish Emblem Toys in Leicester. Later they would resuscitate the ailing Matchbox Company. “During my long association with Les Cooke, I have found him to be very committed, willing to embrace my ideas and always giving total support,” says Bob Brechin. “Everone I have talked to has demonstrated their respect and admiration for him. He had a strong affinity to toys and the long list of products he introduced attests to that. The British toy industry will mourn the passing of one of its stalwarts.” Bob added that his thoughts were with Les’s wife Diane, and his children and grandchildren, at this sad time. Toy World would like to add its condolences to the family and all who knew Les.Show more


Skies of Arcadia producer and team leader on the original Phantasy Star games Rieko Kodama has passed away at age 58. According to a Sega statement to IGN, Kodama passed away in five months ago in May... 2022. No cause of death was given. Word of Kodama's possible death began to spread after owners of Sega's Mega Drive Mini II retro console noticed her inclusion in the console's credits, which stated "In Memory of Rieko Kodama." In response to queries about the message, Sega Producer Yosuke Okunari confirmed fan suspicions, writing "as you understand it. We respected her." Kodama's three-decade career in video games (which she began under the name Phoenix Rie) spanned multiple console generations and game genres. She is often credited for being a trailblazing artist, director, and producer in an era when women's contributions to the video game industry were less-recognized. Her early games at Sega included work on games llike Champion Boxing, Sega Ninja, and Quartet. Her art appeared in several landmark Sega titles including Altered Beast and Sonic the Hedgehog. Most recently, she produced the Sega Ages series of classic game ports on Nintendo Switch. Many of those ports brought games she helped create to modern audiences. In 2019, the organizers of Game Developers Conference (disclaimer: our sibling organization) honored Kodama with the Pioneer award. In a message where she accepted the award, she gave thanks fellow Sega collaborators like Yoshiki Kawasaki for supporting her in her career. In a rare interview with Kotaku around the same time period, Kodama reflected on the success of Skies of Arcadia, which has remained a cult classic among fans of Japanese Role-Playing Games. "Portrayal of dark worlds was certainly what was trending in Japan at the time, but our team preferred to create an optimistic protagonist who explored the world," she said in reflection. "[That] gave birth to Skies of Arcadia’s scenario and characters." With Kodama's passing, the video game industry has lost one of the few women who has been a constant presence from the console industry's early days all the way into the modern era. Even fewer have worked on so many titles that would inspire game developers around the globe.Show more


(Tribute by Jacqueline Fulmer, Ph.D., Director of Omnidoll Research.)  Pioneering mass media toy reviewer and early childhood studies author, Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D., known to her readers and as “Dr. Toy,” passed away in San Lorenzo, CA, on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, at age 84, due to complications from stroke.  Stevanne Auerbach was an accomplished speaker, consultant, and author, who had trained in child development and special education. Her works ranged from the esoteric: editing volumes on early childhood studies; to the practical: handbooks on the Peace Corps, careers in Home Economics, physical education for differently abled children, and the search for quality childcare; to the creative: a children’s book (The Alphabet Tree, 1988), a novel (The Contest, 2009), a book of poetry (Petals, 1973), and a screenplay. Her title, “Dr. Toy,” dated to her first assignment with Creative Playthings in 1968, where she developed its first education marketing program. She became one of the first mass media “toy reviewers,” evaluating toys, publishing articles, and appearing on radio and television in American markets from coast to coast, from 1986 to 2018. When her distinctive gold foil “Dr. Toy Award” stickers appeared on retail products, consumers would know that they were purchasing a quality toy that would enrich their children’s lives. To have known Stevanne was to experience her enthusiasm for the value of play in everyone’s lives and her generosity in helping people at every stage of their lives. Stevanne is survived by her husband Ralph Whitten, daughter Amy Beth Auerbach, grandson Josiah Metz, and sister Judy Schwartz (Martin Schwartz). Stevanne was born to Jeane Sydney Rosen Stockheim and Nathan Carl Stockheim on September 22, 1938, in New York City. She was raised in Juniper Park in Middle Village, a newly developed neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City. Her mother spent most of her career working in public health, and her father worked as a firefighter and math and science teacher.   READ MORE...Show more

John Doe

Laurie Peterson 3 month ago Thursday,27 October 2022 at 09:43:19

Stevanne was my mentor and friend. I proudly received several Dr Toy awards while producing toys for LeapFrog, and then later for my own magnetic toy line Build & Imagine. Stevanne was generous with her advice as I was getting my startup off the ground, spending hours with me at the Berkeley startup accelerator program Skydeck. We then fell into a somewhat regular routine of three hour long lunches and interesting conversation, often at Eureka in Berkeley. We once had lunch outside at the Claremont Hotel, where we both wore giant hats and posed for a photo with Steve Kerr, the basketball coach for the Warriors. Even after Stevanne became house bound due to her health, her capacity for dreaming big never stopped. We would talk about her hopes for "Dr Toy" to live on as an institution, encouraging the importance of play for learning. We would talk about all kinds of business ideas, and she encouraged me to open up a toy museum to help carry on her life's purpose. And she would share about her many interests, including butterflies. I have found comfort in her butterfly collection book these past few days. Stevanne was a unique person who I will miss dearly, and I am so grateful to have known her personally and professionally. Thank you for your friendship and guidance, Dr Toy.


R.I.P. - Carl Woodiwiss

2022-10-21 08:06:24

Toy World is sad to report the recent untimely passing of Carl Woodiwiss, a much-loved and highly respected member of the A.B.Gee sales team. Carl Woodiwiss worked at A.B.Gee for over 20 years during ...which time he met his wife of 12 years, Cath, with whom he had two children, Lucy and Jack. Carl started off working in the model department at A.B.Gee, where his knowledge of cars, kits and collectibles was second to none, and it was this that helped Carl build up a remarkable rapport with the many customers he looked after. Colleagues at A.B.Gee say Carl was a natural salesman, full of enthusiasm and always took great pride in representing the company at London Toy Fair, the Toymaster Show and The Toy & Gift Show. Carl had such a good relationship with his customers that he still kept in close contact even when he moved on to the Toy side of the business. He was very concerned that he might lose contact with customers whom he considered to be his friends, but this was never the case and he ended up making many more close connections with his new customers too. Paying tribute on behalf of the A.B.Gee team, sales manager Andrew Hardwidge said:“Carl was a fantastic colleague and a dear friend with a great sense of humour. He had a heart of gold and a twinkle in his eye when he spoke about Cath and the kids, whom he loved very much. He will be greatly missed by his co-workers, customers, friends and most of all his family.” Carl’s wife Cath has set up a JustGiving page with donations going to Cancer Research UK as this was a charity close to Carl’s heartShow more