ATA Rising Star Award


In 2017, The Australian Toy Association (ATA) announced the introduction of a prestigious new Award the ATA Rising Star Award.

The Award was created with the intention of recognising and celebrating the industry's bright young stars who are making a name for themselves in Australia and around the world.

The award is judged by a panel of independent judges and nominations must be based on an individual's (aged 40 or under) contribution to a business. This can include their impact on a business' culture, financial performance, innovation or strategic direction or any other factor a nominee deems significant.

The following are the Rising Star award winners to date.

2017 Rising Star
Andrew Hendy




Andrew joined his father 9 years ago at HeadStart and has built the business to be a significant force in the Australian toy industry. More recently Andrew has implemented a product development plan that has seen HeadStart developing a range of products to suit the global market in addition to maintaining the distribution model that has worked so well in Australia.

He managed 45 staff in Melbourne and a further 15 in Hong Kong. He is respected by his staff, his suppliers, the licensing industry in which many of his products are focussed and also the retail trade.

2018 Rising Star
Madeleine Hunter


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Madeleine joined Hunter Products 5 years ago as Managing Director Jeff Hunter’s personal assistant, however after dipping her toes into licensing and development, she's become unstoppable! Educating herself in every element of the business, her first major success was the creation of 'Shibajuki Girls,’ which have been sold in 22 countries, ranged in 1,800 Target USA stores, and is due to be released in 3,500 Walmart stores.

Following this, she’s continuing to develop products and manage every element of production – from design, sketches, price points, mechanics, marketing, selling and packaging, there’s not an element of her products she hasn't made her mark on. It’s no surprise that her colleagues think she’s a force to be reckoned with in the industry!

2019 Rising Star
Alan Ngov


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Alan receives this award in recognition of his leadership skills and overall passion for the toy industry. He has been described as one of the most likeable, intelligent and hardworking people at HeadStart with an innate ability to breakdown issues and solve problems collaboratively.

Responsible for a sales team of 7, Alan has exceeded his targets while also managing stock control.

2020 Rising Star
Samantha Atkinson


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Samantha is a strong, independent, determined woman, both inside and outside of work. She is constantly setting goals for herself and others and striving to achieve them. Her passion, ambition and motivation shines through the final product of her work. The Bensons team have no doubt that in the coming years Sam will be the CEO.

‘Visionary’ best describes Samantha - whether it be for product development or new business opportunities.Samantha has an unique ability to change direction in the blink of an eye, moving from marketing, to sales to product development, to financials, to licensing. Then in her spare time managing the operations at the Royal Agricultural Shows in 5 Capital cities throughout the course of the year.