The 4th annual Toy Makers Competition -- with youngsters' inventive entries ranging from cooking sets to robots to bubble fairies -- highlighted the recent Family Art Day: All About Toys at the Westport Arts Center.

The competition featured original toy designs by children 5 to 12 years old with the goal of producing toys that "are fun, unique, and have long-lasting appeal," according to organizers. More than 150 toy designs were submitted to the competition, which was sponsored by the Melissa & Doug toy business.

The entrants, competing in three age groups, presented their toy designs in Shark Tank-style interviews to three judges. The judging panel included: Melissa Bernstein, co-founder and toy designer at Melissa & Doug; Dave Yearwood, Connecticut manager of Shake Shack restaurants, and Stacy Bass, a Westport photographer.

Each toy designer described their inspiration, how their toy works and the reasons it would be successful. The children made their presentations to the judges on their own, while families and friends waited outside the interview room.

The winning toy designers were:

AGES 5-6

- "Build-A-Puppet," James Calenzo (1st)

- "Color and Erase Nails," Rose Porosoff (2nd and Fan Favorite)

- "Shape Master Robot," Charlie Curran (3rd)

AGES 7-9

- "Stone Skipper," Avi Wilson-Spiro (1st)

- "What If...," Jonathan Stekloff (2nd)

- "Bubble Fairy/Charm Pen," Gillian Nishi (3rd)

- "Snap in Ships," Benji Porosoff (Fan Favorite)

AGES 10-12

- "Cooking Set," Julianna Lukacs (1st and Fan Favorite)

- "Description Detective," Jessica Stekloff (2nd)

- "Battles of the Jungle," Talia Moss and Leora Safer (3rd)

First-place winners in each age group won a tour of the Melissa & Doug toy factory in Wilton and a scholarship to a Westport Arts Center summer camp. Second- and third-place winners were given toy gift baskets from Melissa & Doug, and Fan Favorites won Shake Shack gift certificates and backpacks.

In addition to the competition, those attending Family Art Day: All About Toys engaged in creative activities of their own, which included fashioning marble mazes, toothpick creatures and puzzle-piece door signs.

For more information about Westport Arts Center programs for young people, visit, or contact Lindsay Heffernan, the center's education manager, at 203-222-7070 or