Toy start-up Build & Imagine nominated for two TOTY (Toy of the Year) awards


The Toy Industry Association (TIA) kicked off the holiday shopping season today by announcing the finalists for the prestigious Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY), also known as the “Oscars” of the toy industry. Among big brands is a small toy startup led by a mompreneur in Oakland, California: Build & Imagine. Their “Malia’s House”, a magnetic dollhouse you design yourself, is a finalist for the “Rookie of the Year Category”, and their “Marine Rescue Center” is up for “Building Toy of the Year”.

“I thought it was a long shot,” admitted Build & Imagine founder and inventor Laurie Peterson. “Last year I had the honor of presenting one of the awards at the TOTY show, and noted that the winners seemed to be mostly from big name established companies. I am a bit shocked and truly honored to have Build & Imagine named as a finalist for not one, but two TOTY categories! What an amazing recognition.”

Build & Imagine’s line of whimsically illustrated magnetic building sets, which are like a cross between a dollhouse and magnetic building blocks, was launched just two years ago via Kickstarter. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the categories in which Build & Imagine is a contender are new categories introduced this year. These categories are a product of activists, including Peterson herself, successfully campaigning the Toy Industry Association to abolish the Girl Toy of the Year and Boy Toy of the Year categories for the role they played in perpetuating gender stereotypes. New play-based categories were introduced in their place, including Construction Toy of the Year as well as the Rookie of the Year category, which celebrates independent innovation in the toy industry.


“The judges were looking for products that move the needle,” announced TIA’s Director of Strategic Communications, Adrienne Appell, “Build & Imagine is a newcomer to the scene, and we’re excited to announce them as finalists as they bring a unique perspective to construction.”

For Build & Imagine to win, they need your vote! Between now and January 17, 2017 consumers can visit to vote for their favorite toy picks in each category and enter to win exclusive prizes. The winners in each of the categories and the coveted Toy of the Year will be selected based on votes from mass and specialty toy retailers, media, Toy Industry Association members and consumers. The TOTY winners will be announced on February 17th 2017 at the TOTY awards ceremony and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.


Malia’s House by Build & Imagine
3DoodlerStart Essentials Pen Set
by WobbleWorks
Acids, Bases and pH Chemistry Kit by Yellow Scope
CogniToys Dino by CogniToys
Geometry Strategy by Games by Bright of Sweden
IAmElemental Series 1/Courage by IAmElemental
Superhero Will by Wonder Crew


Marine Rescue Center by Build & Imagine
LEGO Friends Amusement Park Roller Coaster
by LEGO Systems, Inc
Arckit Go Colours
by ARCKIT Div. of MBM Building Systems
Grippies® Builders by Guidecraft USA Inc.
Meccano Micronoid by Spin Master Ltd.
Tinkerbots by Tinkerbots
Walking Robot 45PC SET by Magformers

About Build & Imagine
Build & Imagine aims to shift the multi-billion dollar construction toy category in a girl friendly direction to help overcome the gender innovation gap. The toy start-up has grown their line to eight play-sets and has earned more than 25 awards. Build & Imagine can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, QVC, specialty toy stores, and limited Targets this holiday season. See where to buy.

Laurie Peterson, an award-winning toy designer and mother, founded Build & Imagine after noticing that the kinds of play experiences she enjoyed as a child (involving building, creativity, and experimentation) were poorly represented in the girls’ section of most toy stores. She now develops magnetic building toys with leading female characters and rich narrative details to engage both girls and boys.

Build & Imagine’s magnetic building sets are the fun of a dollhouse and the enrichment of a construction toy. Each set contains colorfully illustrated “StoryWalls” that connect magnetically to build a world where dress-up characters work and play. Children can easily change their scene and create a whole new adventure for endless imaginative engagement. They can also extend their imaginative play possibilities by purchasing additional wooden dress-up dolls and magnetic accessories.

About Malia’s House

b00w8dgzba-mainMalia’s House is an award-winning magnetic dollhouse created by the “Rising Star Toy Inventor of the Year”. Build Malia’s House any way you like—illustrated shapes join magnetically.  Then decorate the house and invent new stories with magnetic accessories that stick to the floors, walls, and dress-up dolls! Easily change things up and create a whole new adventure for endless imaginative play.

Malia’s House is a TOTY finalist and is the winner of Dr. Toy’s Best Classic Award, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, and PAL’s Top Ten Toys of 2014.

About Marine Rescue Center

Marine_rescue_center_box_webYoung minds will develop foundational STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) skills with this magnetic building + storytelling playset that bridges left and right brain play. Construct the magnetic panels into a building or boat, then take the included doll Thea on a sea worthy adventure to rescue and rehabilitate her marine animal friends. The Marine Rescue Center works with other Build & Imagine play-sets too, so you can grow your story alongside your child’s budding building skills.

Marine Rescue Center is a TOTY finalist and was awarded with Creative Child Magazine’s Building Toy of the Year, The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Mr. Dad’s Seal of Approval, PAL Language Learning Award, and was featured by the Toy Industry Association as a Top Toy Trend of 2015.

About the Toy Industry Association (TIA) /
Founded in 1916, the Toy Industry Association™, Inc. (TIA) is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages.  Its more than 400 members include manufacturers, manufacturers’ sales representatives, licensors, marketing and promotion firms, safety and/or communications consultants and related associations and trade publications (associate members). TIA also owns and operates the American International TOY FAIR™.



1 Comment

  1. Darren Scrubb December 23, 2016 Reply

    Nice prize for a wonderful and creative looking toy.

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