The MAJOR FUN AWARDS go to games and people that bring people fun, and to any organization managing to make the world more fun through its own personal contributions, and through the products it has managed to bring to the market.


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Oball is the first throwing toy to get a Major FUN Award because it's the first I've found that so successfully spans ages, abilities and environments. Sturdy enough for serious kicking, light enough to bounce on your head, supple enough to squish into a backpocket. Hit it with a racquet. Catch it with a stick. Put a bunch on the conference table for creative fiddling and the occasional emotional purge. Put your toes in it. Put your nose in it. Throw it in the snow or mud and then throw it in the dishwasher.

As the manufacturer explains: "Oball consists of a collection of brightly colored loops that are fused together to form a soft, rubbery frame ball with round, finger-friendly openings. Oball grows with a person; it can be used by an infant for clutching, by a baby for throwing, by a toddler for kicking and carrying, by a child for catching, by kids and adults for games like soccer or volleyball both indoors and out, or just for fidgeting."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Nine-month-old granddaughter Lily happened to be with us at the Western Toy and Hobbies Representatives Association Trade Show in Pomona, and she couldn't stop talking about the deliciously graspable Oball. When she finally let it go (somebody handed her a stuffed puppy), I got to play with it myself. It's remarkable how friendly it feels - safe, fun to touch and squeeze and bounce on your hand, so easy to catch that you are often surprised that it's in your hand again. An invitation to fun that you can take seriously, and everywhere.

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