“Down at Fraggle Rock!”

“Down at Fraggle Rock!”

While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I worked as a DJ for the college radio station. One spring semester, I had a timeslot of 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday afternoons. I remember the sun often shining, and everyone being in a good mood as they prepared for the weekend. That’s when I started a tradition…

Fun at the Drive-In

Fun at the Drive-In

My favorite artifact in America at Play, an exhibit that opened on The Strong’s second floor in December 2016, isn’t the oldest, the biggest, or the showiest. But it’s one that transports me to another place and time. Which artifact has such magical powers? It’s the Remco Movieland Drive-In Theater play set from 1959. Today,…

But We Play It Like This: House Rules for Games

But We Play It Like This: House Rules for Games

Here’s a fun experiment: suggest playing a game of Monopoly and predict the responses you’ll receive. More often than not, you’ll be hit with an audible groan and the familiar refrain of “Has anyone ever actually finished a game of Monopoly?” Admittedly, I used to be anti-Monopoly myself. (During high school, my friend Meg and…

Have You Hugged a Troll Doll Lately?

Have You Hugged a Troll Doll Lately?

I first encountered troll dolls in the mid-1970s. My younger sister had one that she loved greatly and played with all the time. In fact, she played with her troll doll (named “Sloppy Joe Head”) so much that eventually all of his hair fell out and his felt clothes were torn to shreds. When we…

Rare! Weird! Collectible! A Great Donation of Board Games

Rare! Weird! Collectible! A Great Donation of Board Games

The Strong’s board game collection is unique in all the world. Unlike specialized collectors, the museum thinks broadly about what it acquires, striving to represent both ancient and modern examples, simple games and complex ones, and extremely typical editions and rare versions for the varieties of play they represent, as well as the cultures that…

From Tall to Small: The Lure of Exotic Animals

From Tall to Small: The Lure of Exotic Animals

Having grown up with dogs, cats, a rabbit, and the occasional fish or two, naturally I consider myself an animal lover. Like many folks who fall into this category, my love of creatures is not limited to domestic varieties, but extends well beyond to animals of sea, sky, and land, particularly exotic animals such as…

Little People Go Big: The National Toy Hall of Fame Announces its Newest Inductee

Little People Go Big: The National Toy Hall of Fame Announces its Newest Inductee

Unless you have been out of touch for several days—say, locked in an epic game of Dungeons & Dragons—you have probably heard that Little People, the tiny figures that accompany Fisher-Price play sets, played a big role in the induction announcement of The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame on November 10. Little People, along…

The National Toy Hall of Fame Is in Full Swing

The National Toy Hall of Fame Is in Full Swing

On November 10, The Strong announced that the swing had been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, along with Fisher-Price Little People figures and the game Dungeons & Dragons. Though the play figures and the role-playing game surely fit the hall’s criteria for iconic toys, the swing seems so suited to hall of…

Dungeons & Dragons: Innovative Role-playing Game Merits Hall of Fame Induction

Dungeons & Dragons: Innovative Role-playing Game Merits Hall of Fame Induction

In the 1970s, a group of gaming friends added the concept of role-playing to the previously straightforward play of war games. Gamers Gary Gygax and his associate Jeff Perrin published instructions for Chainmail, a medieval war game, in 1971. This game differed from all other published war games by including a fantasy supplement based in…

The History of Play-Doh: Good, Clean Fun!

The History of Play-Doh: Good, Clean Fun!

Chances are if you mention Play-Doh, your listener will know exactly to what you mean. Not only does the name elicit a mental image of the product in a small yellow can with a colorful lid, but it also evokes sensory memories: bold and vibrant colors; soft, pliable textures; an unmistakable aromatic scent; the soft…