The National Toy Hall of Fame has revealed its inductees for the class of 2016.
Only three of the 12 finalists are joining other iconic toys in the hall to sit alongside past inductees such as Barbie, Monopoly, Twister and Mr. Potato Head.
Fisher-Price first offered its wooden Little People in the 1959 Safety School Bus, according to The Strong museum, the hall of fame’s home. Made of brightly painted wood and fashioned for little hands, the figures help small children imagine big adventures at the Little People school, airport, service station, amusement park, zoo, and farm. During the 1990s, Fisher-Price added arms and legs to the figures.
Inductee: Dungeons & Dragons
Developed in the 1970s, Dungeons & Dragons plunged participants into imaginary worlds of magic and monsters. It required players to role-play without a board or other defined game space, asking them to rely on their imaginations.
Dungeons & Dragons heavily influenced the computer video game industry, inspiring the earliest text-based role-playing games to the more modern massively multiplayer online role-playing games.
Ancient cave drawings in Europe, carved figures from Crete, and ceramic vases from Greece depict humans on swings. Once intended for wealthy Europeans in the 18th century, the swing became a playground staple for children by the early 1900s because it rewards physical coordination, sensory perception, and risk tasking. The suburban movement in America in the mid-20th century brought the swing into many backyards.
Anyone can nominate a toy, but to earn a place in the hall of fame, they must have survived multiple generations, be widely recognized and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play. To achieve greatness means achieving iconic toy status.
The finalists are chosen by historians and curators at The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame. From there, a national panel of judges made up of inventors, educators, psychologists and others choose the winners.
According to The Strong, Hasbro Inc. introduced Transformers, a toy line of action figures that change their shapes, in the mid-1980s. They marketed Transformers with an elaborate back story supported by a Marvel comic book series, a cartoon television series, animated movies, electronic games, consumer goods, and even its own cereal. A continuing series of blockbuster films (with the next installment due in June 2017) has kept Transformers in the public eye.
Finalist: Care Bears
Care Bears began as a line of greeting cards for the American Greetings Corporation in the early 1980s but evolved from 1983 to 1988 into a brand featuring mini-dolls and plush teddy bears. The soft, pastel-colored bears—intended to teach children compassion, kindness, and consideration—became pop icons and the stars of storybooks, television shows, movies, games, and more.
Finalist: Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots
Introduced in 1965, Louis Marx & Company’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots features two fighting robots in a boxing ring. Players manipulate levers that control the robots’ arms, punching the opponent to knock its block off and win the round. The pugilistic robots have inspired movies and been adapted into video games and other toys
Finalist: Bubble wrap
Two engineers created bubble wrap by accident in 1957 while attempting to make a new type of wallpaper. They soon discovered that the clear plastic sheets made great packing material for fragile items, and consumers also quickly saw the entertainment value in repeatedly popping the bubbles. This amusement factor even spurred an industry of virtual bubble popping—including key chain games and computer games.
Finalist: Coloring book
Coloring books appeared in America as an outgrowth of European educational reforms, but McLoughlin Brothers, a New York printing company, is credited as the coloring book’s inventor.
Educators now use coloring books to teach such essential and diverse subjects as history, geography, and even geometry. Though often thought of as a children’s activity, more complex coloring books aimed at adults became increasingly popular in the 2000s.
From its initial production in the 1960s as a foam ball safe enough to throw indoors, Nerf toys quickly multiplied into balls for every possible sport.
With the 1989 debut of Blast a Ball, Nerf continued its evolution, resulting in a hugely successful line of blasters that shoot harmless foam darts for outdoor fun that encourages physical exertion, social interactions, and strategic thinking.
A retired solicitor’s clerk developed Clue during World War II and originally patented it in 1947 under the name “Cluedo.”
The game invites players to deduce a solution to the murder of the luckless Mr. Boddy, which occurs under different circumstances in each game. Clue remains one of the best-selling branded board games of all time, according to The Strong.
With their roots tracing back to the 18th-century French parlor table game bagatelle, modern mechanical-action pinball machines are fast-paced games that challenge players to use flippers to aim, control, and fire steel balls across a playing field filled with a maze of ramps and obstacles.
Over the last century, pinball became common in bars, amusement parks, arcades, restaurants, family fun centers, and other public places.
Created in 1971, Uno (Spanish and Italian for “one”) belongs to the “shedding family” of card games in which players seek to dispose of the cards in their hands. Its fixed rule system makes it easy to learn and quick to play.
Creative branding and themed variations—such as Elvis Uno, Disney Princess Uno, and Dr. Who Uno—has helped the game to sell steadily for more than four decades.