Playing around is very serious business. Or at least, it is at the National Toy Hall of Fame, a real institution that honours the finest childhood playthings.
Since 1999, the Toy Hall of Fame has inducted toys that have met their strict criteria for admission. The toys need to have achieved icon status, be more than a passing fad, promote creativity and learning, or be innovative enough to have totally changed the toy game. So far, 60 toys have made the cut, and they’re represented at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, which houses the Hall of Fame.
The toys on this list range from Barbies to Super Soakers, with plenty of surprise in between. There are high-tech gizmos like the Nintendo Game Boy right alongside the most basic toy of all time — a simple wooden stick.
Here are the 60 toys that have endured the test of time.
BARBIE: Sure, she's garnered a decent amount of criticism, but Barbie is perhaps the ultimate doll and a fashion icon.
CRAYOLA CRAYON: With a seemingly infinite number of creatively named colours, Crayola Crayons are a creative staple for young budding artists.
ERECTOR SET: Though they haven't been made since the line was discontinued in 1980, Erector Sets were the go-to for kiddie engineers as far back as 1911, when the toy was invented.
ETCH A SKETCH: All it takes is a shake to make a detailed masterpiece disappear, but that's part of the Etch A Sketch's appeal. And, be honest: You never really got the hang of drawing a diagonal line, did you?
FRISBEE: Don't be fooled by other 'flying discs.' Without the Frisbee, there would be no Frisbee Golf or Ultimate Frisbee.
HULA HOOP: Though it's named after the hip-gyrating Hawaiian dance, the Hula Hoop was actually inspired by a toy used by Australian kids in the late 1950s.
LEGO: Here's a fun fact — Lego makes more rubber tires than any other company in the world, including corporations like Bridgestone and Goodyear. Granted, Legos tires are much, much smaller.
Inducted in 1999.
LINCOLN LOGS: Lincoln Logs were named after President Abraham Lincoln's childhood cabin, but were initially inspired by earthquake-proof building techniques in Japan.
MARBLES: Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played with marbles in some form or another. Just don't lose them.
MONOPOLY: Despite being a never ending endurance test that's been known to ruin friendships, this iconic board game is a proud member of the Hall of Fame.
PLAY-DOH: According to the Hall of Fame, kids have played with an estimated 700 million pounds of Play-Doh over the years. Even the smell is iconic.
RADIO FLYER WAGON: The Radio Flyer wagon was invented by an Italian immigrant, and its name is an homage to another Italian invention: The radio.
ROLLER SKATES: The first roller skates were just wheels that clamped on the bottom of a normal pair of shoes, but without them we wouldn't have rollerblades or roller derbies.
TEDDY BEAR: Famously named after President Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt, Teddy Bears are one of the most beloved stuffed-animals around.
TINKERTOY: This classic peg and wheel construction toy is one of the finest examples of toys that help develop children's 'spatial intelligence.'
VIEW-MASTER: The View-Master was introduced at the 1939 New York World's Fair, but it wasn't until the invention was bought by a company with the licensing rights to all Disney characters that it really became a success.
Inducted in 1999.
DUNCAN YO-YO: Pedro Flores, a Filipino immigrant working as a bellhop at a California hotel, delighted guests with his skills on this traditional toy (the name meant 'come come' in his native language), but Yo-Yos went mainstream when Donald F. Duncan noticed him and bought him out in the late 1920s.
BICYCLE: Without bikes (and maybe a little help from training wheels), kids wouldn't have the ability to roam far and wide around their neighbourhoods.
JACKS: Tossing a ball and attempting to pick up the pieces is one of the oldest games in the world, and it's gone by many names. Iguni, Abhadho, Cincos Marias, Huripapa, and, of course, Jacks.
JUMP ROPE: Jumping rope started out as an activity for young 17th-century Dutch settlers -- hence the 'dutch' in 'double dutch.'
MR. POTATO HEAD: The first ever televised toy commercial was for Mr. Potato Head, who at the time was just a collection of facial features meant to be stuck in a real potato. The classic plastic potato came about in 1964, and was immortalised in the film 'Toy Story.'
SLINKY: Though getting them to walk down stairs is trickier than it looks, Slinkys have managed to sell more than 250 million units over the decades.
SILLY PUTTY: Silly Putty was invented in a failed attempt to create a synthetic rubber substitute while America was at war with Japan during World War II. It failed to live up to its original purpose, but made for a pretty fun toy.
TONKA TRUCKS: The Mighty Dump Truck has been the flagship toy in Tonka's fleet ever since it was released in 1965, but there are more than 30 different trucks, bulldozers, and cranes filling out the line.
JIGSAW PUZZLE: The first puzzle was invented around 1760 by an English mapmaker, and they became something of a craze in the 1930s until TV came around in the 1950s.
RAGGEDY ANN: This cloth doll was one of the first real tie-ins. The doll was created in 1915, and a book series about the character followed three years later.
ALPHABET BLOCKS: According to writings by the famed philosopher John Locke, alphabet blocks have been around since at least as far back as 1693.
CHECKERS: Checkers is a very simple board game, and that's exactly why it's so enduring. And who doesn't love being able to declare 'king me?'
G.I. JOE: The original G.I. Joe was advertised as the first 'action figure' rather than a doll, and tended to be fairly realistic army men. In the 1980s a more fantastical version of the classic toy line came out alongside the colourful Saturday morning cartoon.
ROCKING HORSE: A basic rocking horse is easy to make with a little bit of carpentry know-how, and the simulated pony rides have thrilled little kids and make-believe cowboys for centuries.
SCRABBLE: If nothing else, Scrabble is responsible for a huge number of people knowing that 'qi' is a word.
CANDY LAND: Candy Land is a very simple but very sweet game -- in more ways than one. The board game was created in the early 1940s to help entertain children who were recovering from Polio, and bought by Milton Bradley in 1949.
CARDBOARD BOX: Time machine, fort, car, spaceship, castle, diorama, dollhouse, television -- a plain ol' cardboard box can transform into whatever a kid's imagination wants it to be.
JACK-IN-THE-BOX: Is the jack-in-the-box the average child's first introduction to the concept of suspense? It's possible.
EASY-BAKE OVEN: All it takes is an ordinary light bulb and an Easy-Bake Oven, and suddenly any old kid can feel like a master baker -- and eat like one too.
LIONEL TRAINS: Though these days Lionel's extremely detailed and realistic trains are collectors items, they were once a ubiquitous feature around Christmas trees and toy boxes.
ATARI 2600 GAME SYSTEM: The Atari 2600 wasn't the first home video game console, but it certainly was the one that changed the game forever. It features the ability to change cartridges and boasted classic titles like 'Space Invaders' and 'Frogger.
KITE: There are reports of kites dating back to 200 BC in ancient China. Today, they come in almost every shape and size, able to pull off impressive aerodynamic moves or soothingly float in the breeze.
RAGGEDY ANDY: Raggedy Ann's brother, Raggedy Andy, didn't make it into the Hall of Fame until 2007, but now he sits beside his sister.
BABY DOLL: Before the 1800s, little kids were mostly limited to dolls that were meant for dress up or tea parties, but Baby Dolls allow them to try their hand at being a mummy or daddy.
Inducted in 2008.
SKATEBOARD: Skateboarding was most likely originally invented as a means to replicate the thrill of surfing while on dry land, but its long-since given what to a skate culture all its own.
NINTENDO GAME BOY: While the Atari 2600 is in the Hall of Fame for bringing video games into the home, the Game Boy is here because it brought them back out. Now, kids could play 'Kirby's Dream Land,' 'Pokémon Blue,' and hundreds of other games no matter where they were.
BIG WHEEL: The Big Wheel is the racecar of tricycles. It's low to the ground, so there isn't a big risk of flipping over, allowing little speed demons to really haul-arse without fear.
THE GAME OF LIFE: While adults might find the Game of Life unfair and based on luck (kind of like real life), kids get a thrill out of playing a make-believe future on a cool 3D board.
PLAYING CARDS: Without a deck of cards, you can't play War, Poker, Go Fish, or even 52 Pickup, but only a jerk would play that last one.
HOT WHEELS: Mattel, the company who owns Hot Wheels, has produced more than three billion cars over the decades.
DOLLHOUSE: The first dollhouses were miniature status symbols for the elite, but over time manufacturers realised that they were the perfect home for a young child's imaginative storytelling.
BLANKET: Drape it over some furniture and you've got a fort. Wrap it around yourself and you've got a cape just like Superman. Then, when you're all tuckered out from playing, take a nap.
'STAR WARS' ACTION FIGURES: The original 'Star Wars' didn't just change movies, it changed the toy game. Merchandising considerations became a major part of how blockbuster movies were made from that point on.
DOMINOES: There are multiple games you can play with dominoes, but chances are most folks just want to line them all up for the thrill of knocking 'em all down.
CHESS: Chess is so old, popular, and influential, that its very name has almost become a shorthand for 'strategy.'
RUBBER DUCK: Rubber ducks have been around since the late 1800s, but it wasn't until 1970 when Ernie sang about his 'Rubber Duckie' on 'Sesame Street' that the toy became a bath time classic.
LITTLE GREEN ARMY MEN: Entire platoons of Little Green Army Men have battled for backyards across the world. The National Toy Hall of Fame recognises their service -- and when firecrackers are involved, sacrifice.
BUBBLES: Soap has been around for a long, long time, but paintings of children playing with bubbles indicate that it's been a fun activity since the 17th century.
RUBIK'S CUBE: This 1980s icon aws invented by Erno Rubik. According to the Hall of Fame, it's the most popular puzzle in history.
PUPPET: Puppets have existed in various forms for more than 6,000 years. Whether they're a simple sock or an elaborate marionette, they can always put on a good show.
SUPER SOAKER: Sure, Super Soakers these days might not be as powerful (and dangerous) as they were back in the '90s, but they still make getting wet a literal blast.
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