Beloit toy company up for top awards

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Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News PlayMonster Associate Vice President Lisa Wuennemann stands by My Singing Monsters, which is up for one of the Toy of the Year 2020 Awards. PlayMonster announced its acquiring a new company and has been named a finalist for three Toy of the Year (TOTY) 2020 Awards. Each of My Singing Monsters play music and create harmony when played together. 

BELOIT - PlayMonster announced it's acquiring a new company and has been named a finalist for three Toy of the Year (TOTY) 2020 Awards.

Playmonster has acquired the assets of Kahootz in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Kahootz is behind 17 award-winning brands including Spirograph, Colorforms, Fashion Plates, LatchKits and more. Founded in 2012, Kahootz relaunched the Spirograph under license with Hasbro.

"This is PlayMonster's largest acquisition to date and we're thrilled to continue our multi-category growth strategy building and adding classic brands while expanding our footprint in the activity and stationery aisles. Kahootz has shown a commitment to providing innovative products to kids of all ages, and this philosophy aligns with our mission to make a positive difference in people's lives through the power of play. Their team has done an outstanding job, and with our help, will continue to grow the Kahootz brand at retail," said Bob Wann, whose title is Chief PlayMonster of PlayMonster LLC.

This will be the second acquisition this year for PlayMonster. It acquired Set Enterprises Inc. in April. Set Enterprises is behind award-winning and educational games such as SET, Quiddler, Five Crowns, Karma, WordSpiel and Zangle. Its card games are in specialty stores and sold in more than 40 countries.

The acquisition of Kahoots will mark PlayMonster's eighth acquisition since 2016.

Thanks to its latest acquisition, Playmonster gained a third finalist for the TOTY awards, Y'ART in the creative category.

The TOTY Awards are frequently referred to as the "Oscars" of the toy industry, and finalists are announced from a field of hundreds of nominations. Finalists are determined by elite members of the toy industry, including retail buyers, inventors, academics, trade media spokespeople and bloggers. For more information about PlayMonster's TOTY Award finalists, and to vote, visit playmonstervote.com.

This the fifth year in a row that PlayMonster has had a finalist in the TOTY Games category.

The winners of the TOTY 2020 Awards will be announced on Feb. 21 at the TOTY Awards Ceremony in New York City. The ceremony is the official kick off for the North American International Toy Fair, which takes place at New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Feb. 22-25, 2020.

Its newest item up for a TOTY, referred to as "Y'ART by number," features a yarn dispenser and "picture" kids can make with yarn.

"It's like a color by number except you are using yarn," Lisa Wuennemann, marketing director, said. "These crafty items are really coming back with girls today."

Y'ART is available at Farm & Fleet and Target.

Orangutwang is up for a TOTY award in the game category. New this year, Orangutwang is a game where kids take turns rolling a dice to see which fruit to hang on an orangutan. The orangutan, suspended from a "vine," goes "twang" and jumps up after enough weight is added.

Wuennemann credits the game's popularity anticipation of when it's going to twang that keeps kids on the "edge."

Orangutwang can be found at most retailers.

My Singing Monsters is up for a TOTY in the collectible category. The colorful figures play music.

"As you turn them on they all have their own piece of a song, and they harmonize together. They know when to jump in and be their part of the song," Wuennemann said.

One monster is a drummer, while others are vocalists.

"They are beautiful to look at but they also play music. As you collect more you get a bigger piece of the song," Wuennemann said.

This is the first time PlayMonster has done a collectible toy.

"Collectibles are very popular with kids right now. We are excited to be in another category in the toy industry," Wuennemann said.

The figures are sold at KMart and Amazon.

PlayMonster has grown from a games company to selling in multiple toy categories including infant, toddler and preschool toys, dolls, vehicles, outdoor activities, collectibles and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) toys.

Playmonster has 84 employees at its Beloit facility at 1400 E. Inman Parkway. The Beloit site is devoted primarily to development, design, sales and marketing functions. November will be a busy month at its warehouse on Bartells Drive as it gears up for holiday shipments.

Playmonster is currently hiring. For more information people can visit https://www.playmonster.com/employment/

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