The National Toy Hall of Fame is an institution devoted to recognizing toys that have inspired play. Established in 1998 at the Strong Museum, the Hall of Fame inducts new honorees each year.
Anyone is eligible to nominate a toy. The final selections are based on the expertise of historians and educators. In 2014 there were three inductees to the National Toy Hall of Fame. Each one represents a toy celebrated for generations. They were the Rubik’s Cube, Bubbles, and Little Green Army Men.
The Little Green Army Men evolved from metal and lead toy soldiers. They started being manufactured in molded plastic since 1930. The soldiers stand two to four inches tall and represent infantry soldiers from the United States Army. Each soldier carries weapons and equipment from battle.
The Co-Founder of the educational toy company Click-A-Brick Jason Smith praises the inductees. “That’s what I used to play with as a child,” Smith said. “I would set up mock battles for my little green army men to engage in. I even wrote backstories for some of the soldiers. I’m glad that the National Toy Hall of Fame is doing something like this. Through this and other efforts they bring attention to how important a developmental tool toys can be for children. I hope to accomplish the same one day with Click-A-Brick.”
Bubbles used as a toy can be traced back to the 19th century, when the soap company A&F Pears created an advertising campaign that consisted of children playing with bubbles.
The Rubik’s Cube was created by the Erno Rubik, a Hungarian design teacher and avid puzzler. He set out to create a puzzle based on geometry. It is composed of 27 separate cubes, each one carrying one of six colors. The original model was built in 1974 and christened the Magic Cube. It was renamed as the Rubik’s Cube in 1980 by the Ideal Toy & Novelty Company. It sold over one hundred million of the puzzles within two years.
The Co-Founder of the educational toy company Click-A-Brick Georg de Gorostiza reminisces on the inductees. “Who didn’t play with all of these toys as a kid?” de Gorostiza said. “Solving the Rubik’s cube is one of the fondest moments of my childhood. The challenge of it inspired me. My dad handed it to me, probably to keep me quiet, and I was instantly engaged. It took me months to figure it out but when I finally did it, it was worth all the effort. I still have it and plan on giving it to my daughter when she’s of age and we can figure it out together. These are exactly the types of moments we aim to create with our line of toy sets.”
The National Toy Hall of Fame has inducted 56 toys since its inception. These and other inductees can be viewed at the Strong Museum.
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