If Hollywood Stars have the walk of fame, kid’s toys do also have an award giving body to recognise the best, the classic and the phenomenal. The Strong National Museum of play yearly inducts toys for its National Toy Hall of Fame. It started in 1998 when they inducted toys like Barbie, Monopoly and Crayons, among others. Since then, it grew and has already inducted over 50 toys.
Let’s relive our childhood memories as we give you 10 of the most memorable, most popular and the most fun-to-play toys in their Hall of Fame.
1. Play Doh
What once started as a wallpaper cleaner has become one of the kids’ all-time favourite toy. As early as the 1950’s, kids enjoy this modelling clay that comes in various themes and colors and has become a factor that help in developing one’s creativity. From simple ball-like figure to molding a snake figure or even a dinosaur model, to the play doh sets that allow one to mold the clay into interesting shapes like ice cream, spaghetti and a lot more, there is no doubt that Play Doh is indeed a part of every childhood experience.
LEGO is perhaps worthy of being dubbed as a legendary toy. It was named the “Toy of the Century” by Fortune magazine in 2002, has been put into film, and was used not only for play but in various applications like robotics and even for prosthetic limb in animals. But the humble beginnings of Lego started in 1949 when the first piece of LEGO brick was created by a Danish carpenter, Ole Christiansen. But it was only in 1958 that the LEGO company sold the toy. And soon, it gained traction among the young and even child psychologists and educators alike. No wonder because this toy stirs up our creativity and logic in constructing things we can imagine.
3. Duncan Yo-Yo
Perhaps the oldest among the list, Yo-yo is an ancient toy that survived thousands of years. It is said that ancient Greeks and Chinese were the first to play an archetype of yo-yo. However, the modern Yo-yo is credited to a Filipino bellhop named Pedro Flores who in the 20’s would attract hotel guests in California as he plays yo-yo. He developed the toy and later was bought out by Donald F. Duncan, hence the trademark name. Since then, the yo-yo has become one of the few toys that tax patience just to learn tricks like “rock the cradle”, “walk the dog” and “Ferris wheel.”
We all felt that thrill in taking a peek into our favorite View-Master reel. This toy transports us to the world of our superheroes, and favourite cartoons. This toy boomed in the 50s when it started to distribute film-strips about Disneyland and Disney characters. Since then it grew and covered blockbuster hit films and kid’s shows. Inducted in 1999 to the Toy Hall of Fame, it’s vintage units are now a collector’s item and today’s View-Master is now selling VR models.
5. Rubik’s Cube
The toy that will test the wit inside you, Rubik’s cube is a quintessential puzzle game that earned the title as the most popular puzzle in history, according to the Toy Hall of Fame. This is because 200 million of Rubik’s cube were sold within two years after release, which is equivalent to 190 Rubik’s cube sold per second, in two whole years. It indeed became a worldwide phenomenon and still thrives on being every puzzler’s favorite. Since 2003, speedcubing records have been witnessed in the competition held by the World Cube Association.
6. Hot Wheels
Since time immemorial, kids have been fascinated with transport vehicles, from horse figures to locomotive and cars. Toy car for boys has become the equivalent of the much-loved Barbie doll for girls. Indeed, Hot Wheels–the most popular toy car brand to date, was created to match the best-selling Barbie Doll division of Mattel, an American toy company giant. What made Hot wheels so special is that it not just a typical car model toy, it is a custom-car model engineered for speed and shock absorbency. Thus, came the racing tracks for Hot Wheels. According to The Strong, eight Hot Wheels cars are sold every second to this day.
7. Atari 2600 Game System
Before PlayStation, Xbox or Wii, there was Atari. Atari was first to popularize video game, long before these modern day games dominate the play form. While not the first one to sell video games, Atari 2600 Game System (1977) was actually what sets the standards for a modern video game. It offers a wide variety of games in colorful graphics and sharp sounds. And thanks to Atari, we have pop culture icons like Pac-man and Space invader among others. Atari 2600 dominated the video games industry for 15 years–longer than any video game systems before. While we no longer play this game system, it is worthy of note that Atari has put video games on the history of toys.
While most of the inducted toys on the Hall of Fame are products of tech advancements, Stick proves to be worthy of the spot for reasons that we all understand. It is undisputedly true that all kids have tried to play with sticks at one point in their life: be it a sling shot, a toy sword, magic wand, stick man etc. It is, as the Toy Hall of Fame puts it, “the world’s oldest toy.” Surely, it deserves a spot as all these toys have. For one thing, it is the first toy that cultivated the imagination of kids–before the age of LEGO or Play Doh. It taught us to create something and play with it.
Kite is probably one of the first outdoor toys of most kids. With sticks, nylon, and paper, we learned to create our own kite which we play during Spring when the sky’s clear and the weather is windy. But don’t you know that kite was also an ancient toy which was first discovered in 200 B.C China. It was first used as a military tool to calculate distance, but soon it became a popular toy for young and adults alike. Since then, kite spread throughout the world and became a classic pastime.
10. Nintendo Game Boy
Nintendo Game Boy is perhaps the first mobile video game in the market. The 1989 Game Boy was an instant hit due to its portability and design. According to Toy Hall of Fame, “The secret to Game Boy’s success was not driven by advanced graphics or processing power, but rather by simple and efficient design, head-to-head connectivity, and scores of intriguing games. Game Boy’s Game Link cable allowed simultaneous multiplayer gaming—a first for a portable system.” This console introduced us to the world of Super Mario, another pop culture icon. The Game Boy grew from its humble grey and bulky unit to colored, slim and more advanced console.
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