The three toy honorees were selected from among 12 toy finalists that included: The Ball, Big Wheel, Cabbage Patch Kids, Game of Life, Hot Wheels, Nintendo Game Boy, Paper Airplane, Playing Cards, Rubik’s Cube, Sidewalk Chalk, Toy Tea Set, and Transformers.
Roll it, throw it, kick it, catch it, bounce it, or bat at it, the Ball is as old as civilization itself. It has, in fact, been depicted in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman drawings and continues to provide opportunities for free play among people of all ages. Baby’s first toy may be a soft and safe cloth ball, older children play kickball on the playground, and a grown-up’s reward for a week’s work may be a round of tennis or golf. Today, we even set aside physical spaces—baseball stadiums, tennis courts, and golf courses to play these ball games.
Vroom, Vroom! In the 1960s, Ray Lohr, head designer for Louis Marx & Co., took apart a tricycle, mixed up the parts, and reassembled them into an upside-down trike that handled like a race car. Launched at the 1969 Toy Fair in New York City, the Big Wheel had a low-slung design that made for superior handling, giving kids a sense of independence and control that tippy old trikes could never deliver. By the following Christmas, children all over the country delighted in riding their new “muscle” trikes. The Big Wheel remained Marx’s big seller for a decade.
Admitted into the hall because of its role as a major industry innovator, Nintendo Game Boy transformed the electronic-games market by popularizing handheld gaming.
video-game platform did more to put gamers “on the go” than this invention. And go they did—bringing their gaming experience to school, to summer camp, and to the back seat of the family automobile. Over the past two decades, Game Boy has become synonymous with hand-held gaming fun. Its portability and efficient design, ability to allow simultaneous multiplayer gaming, and scores of intriguing games (like Tetris and Super Mario Land, featuring Nintendos’ already-iconic character Mario) make it a true innovator.
The National Toy Hall of Fame at Strong National Museum of Play recognizes toys that have engaged and delighted multiple generations, inspiring them to learn, create, and discover through play. Criteria for induction include: Icon-status (the toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered); Longevity (the toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations); Discovery (the toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play); and Innovation (the toy profoundly changed play or toy design).
To date, the following 44 toys have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame:
Alphabet Blocks, Atari 2600 Game System, Ball, Barbie, Baby Doll, Bicycle, Big Wheel, Candy Land, Cardboard Box, Checkers, Crayola Crayons, Duncan Yo-Yo, Easy-Bake Oven, Erector Set, Etch A Sketch, Frisbee, G.I. Joe, Hula Hoop, Jack-in-the-Box, Jacks, Jigsaw Puzzle, Jump Rope, Kite, LEGO, Lincoln Logs, Lionel Trains, Marbles, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Nintendo Game Boy, Play-Doh, Radio Flyer Wagon, Raggedy Ann & Andy, Rocking Horse, Roller Skates, Scrabble, Silly Putty, Skateboard, Slinky, Stick, Teddy Bear, Tinkertoy, Tonka Trucks, and View-Master.