After waiting nearly four decades, Barbie won the British Association of Toy Retailer’s 1996/97 Toy of the Year award. Officially 37 years of age, this is her first time as the overall winner; she has been Doll of the Year and Best Girls’ Toy a number of times.

BATR Chairman Barry Walker said “Barbie has been a phenomenal success story, almost always in our top 10 toy chart. She’s now more than a toy. She’s achieved cult status.”

Her hot rival Action Man (Toy of the Year in 1966) won Boys’ Toy of the Year.

And what of Buzz Lightyear? Unable to get into the chart due to severe stock shortages, Buzz was undoubtedly the most sought-after toy of the year. Almost every year some toy misses the award because of drastic shortages due to unexpected high demand – remember Tracy Island from Thunderbirds a couple of years ago? So the BATR has come up with a new award to cover this unfortunate situation – the BATR Pimpernel Award.

Barry Walker says the toy will no doubt be used in future years as making buying decisions early in the year to allow for manufacture is as difficult and as risky as playing the futures market and the trade will get it wrong from time to time.

The BATR Toy Awards 1996/97

BATR Toy of the YearBarbie (Mattel)
Boys Toy of the YearAction Man (Hasbro)
Game of the YearJenga (MB Games)
Most Innovative ToyPuzz3D (Waddingtons)
Activity Toy of the YearMegasketch (Tomy UK)
Best New Toy RangeFootball Figures (Corinthian Marketing)
Baby Doll of the YearBaby Born (Max Zapf)
BATR Pimpernel Award
For the most elusive toy of the year
Buzz Lightyear (Toy Options)

Toy safety expert Ian Scott won the BATR’s Services to the Industry award. Once a manufacturer of soft toys, Ian moved some years ago to safety matters becoming the UK’s leading independent consultant and and chairman of many toy safety committees here and in Europe. He is also the safety consultant to both the BATR and the British Toy & Hobby Association and has played a major role in achieving the high standards of toy safety now attained in the toy industry, particularly in Britain and in Europe.