The Strong Museum up in Rochester, New York houses a museum dedicated solely to the art of play. The museum offers displays of toys that have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Now you would think the museum would display such modern marvels as Mario, or Super Mario, or Grand Theft Auto, or John Madden's Football...but you'd be wrong.
Nope. The National Toy Hall of Fame, founded in 1998, celebrates the most popular toys of the last century and you might be surprised by the inductees. In an age where violent war games and digital dexterity and fantasy worlds sell big, it seems the most beloved toys are those far more simplistic and benign.
The first inductees? Well, Barbie of course. And Crayola crayons, erector sets, Etch A Sketch, Teddy Bear, Legos, Monopoly, Tinker Toy, Frisbee, and such simple and mundane toys as marbles and Play Dough.
So did video games break through in the second year of induction? Nope. Honors went to The Hula Hoop, Duncan Yo-Yo's, Roller Skates, Lincoln Logs, The Radio Flyer and Viewmaster.
And surely in Y2K video games broker through, right? Again no. Honored toys went to the bicycle, jacks, the jump rope, Mr. Potato Head, and Slinky.
Then, from 2001 to 2006, the nation honored Tonka Trucks, Silly Putty, Raggedy Ann, the jigsaw puzzle, alphabet blocks, checkers, the rocking horse, Scrabble, G.I. Joe, Candyland, Jack in the Box, and wonder of wonder...the cardboard box....the wondrous building matter for forts and doll houses and English castles.
In 2006 Lionel Trains and The Easy Bake Oven were the only winners.
Electronics finally broke into the fold in 2007 with the Atari 2600 with the simple kite and Raggedy Andy holding equal stature.
So did electronic games finally win the day in recent years? Nope. Americans are still voting for the skateboard, Big Wheel, the baby doll of one's choice and a stick...picked at random from the neighborhood. The Nintendo Game Boy did win a place of honor, but so did the ball, a blanket, the rubber duck, Dominoes, Little Green Army Men, a bottle of soap bubbles, and Rubik's Cube.
In 2012 Star Wars Action Figures finally made the list, but so did Chess.
And last year the only three inductees were Twister, The Soaker Hose and the modest puppet.
And the finalists for this year? You Class of '66 children will be glad to know Clue is nominated, as is the tree swing, Nerf, the Pinball Machine, Rock-Em Sock-Em Robots, Transformers, Fischer Price Little People, Care Bears, Dungeons and Dragons, the Coloring Book and, last but no least, bubble wrap.
So, boys and girls of the Class of '66. Let us never hear again of our "impoverished childhood". If we can believe what the National Toy Hall of Fame is telling us, we had it pretty good.
Now go out and play boys and girls. And Happy Monday!