Rainbow Loom wins annual award from Toy Industry Association

Hannah Molen works on a Rainbow Loom at her home in Wichita.
Hannah Molen works on a Rainbow Loom at her home in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle

Choon and Yeow Ng plan to add the words “Toy of the Year,” to the packaging of their world-popular craft toy, Rainbow Loom.

At a ceremony in New York on Saturday, with toy makers from around the world looking on, Wichita State University graduate Choon Ng accepted the top prize from the Toy Industry Association for his creation, his brother Yeow said.

Children worldwide now use Rainbow Loom to make bracelets and other decorative items out of rubber bands. His invention also won in three other categories in the awards, which the sponsoring Toy Industry Association dubs “the Oscars of the Toy Industry.”

It was a win that delighted the brothers because as Yeow has pointed out, Rainbow Loom is a family creation. Choon invented the world’s most honored toy at his kitchen table and living room, with advice and suggestions from his daughters. Yeow’s young daughter Angelynn suggested “Rainbow” for the name.

“We beat out Barbie, Mattel, and all those other multi-billion-dollar companies,” Yeow said. “We are pretty excited.”

Yeow helped his brother develop the toy, including at times using the 3D printers to make prototypes in the laboratories at the National Institute for Aviation Research, where Yeow works.

Choon has said the toy has made $55 million in retail sales in the past year, with sales all over the world.

On its website, the Association lists Rainbow Loom as winning the Activity Toy of the Year, recognizing “an outstanding toy that inspires creative play through various forms of activity.”

Choon was there to accept. He was not available for comment on Tuesday because he’s still running his exhibit at the New York industry gathering, Yeow said.

Sales are still strong, said Yeow, who runs the toy company’s online store on North Rock Road in Wichita.

Yeow is a mechanical engineer who has spent years running the advanced materials laboratory at NIAR. Recently he said, he got a visit from his neighbor, after the Rainbow Loom was profiled in a newspaper story.

“He had no idea that someone who helped create Rainbow Loom lived in Wichita and next door,” Yeow said. “When he found out, he came over and said his daughter’s Rainbow Loom hook had broken, and could he have one?”

“I gave him several.”

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