Bingo!

Bingo!

Some of my fondest childhood memories date back to the 1970s and 80s when my grandparents would take my sister and me to Friday night bingo at the local fire hall. The moment we stepped into the building, we were enveloped by the sights, sounds, and aromas of bingo. Hot dogs, popcorn, and refreshments were…

Screen-Play: Walking a Mile in Magic Boots

Screen-Play: Walking a Mile in Magic Boots

In my last post, I examined television’s stereotypical un-cool Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) player who doesn’t conform to mainstream standards of attractiveness or sociability and fits more comfortably within the fantasy world of role-playing games (RPGs). But “dork” is not a four-letter word as far as these characters are concerned. In fact, television programs offer audiences…

Let’s Make a Deal

Let’s Make a Deal

When you hear the term “game show,” what comes to mind?  A theme song? A colorful set? Enthusiastic hosts and fabulous prizes? Whatever your answer, chances are you’ve watched a game show at least once. Growing up, my mother and I often watched game shows together and our viewing included everything from $25,000 Pyramid and…

Screen-Play: Too Cool for Ghouls? Dungeons & Dragons and Television Misfits

Screen-Play: Too Cool for Ghouls? Dungeons & Dragons and Television Misfits

Why does television portray Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) as un-cool by putting it in the hands of nerds? Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the iconic game grew out of the war-themed, strategy-heavy board games introduced in the 1950s by Avalon Hill, as well as from the miniature war games hobbyists enacted with figurines and battlefields…

Jackie Robinson: A First in Baseball and in Toys

Jackie Robinson: A First in Baseball and in Toys

Before the 1950s, American toy manufacturers avoided favorable illustrations of people of color on toys and their packaging. But the middle of the 20th century saw the beginnings of positive examples—toys that purposefully utilized constructive African American likenesses. And some of the earliest appearances of this long-overdue imagery bore the portrait and endorsement of Major…

Lunar Travels with Big Loo

Lunar Travels with Big Loo

Meet Big Loo, your new best friend. If you ever go to the moon, make sure you take Big Loo with you. With him along, you won’t need any other companion. Advertised as a robot from the moon and perfect for lunar exploration, the 38-inch Big Loo functioned like a one-man, er, one-robot army. Louis…

The Best Toys Ever

The Best Toys Ever

What’s your favorite toy? I had the chance to talk about some of my favorites from the National Toy Hall of Fame with Gerri Willis on The Willis Report not long ago. The Fox Business network brought me to New York City as part of the lead-in to holiday toy shopping and to remind their…

Molding Minds

Molding Minds

If someone placed a lump of clay in front of you, what would you do? Would you immediately be drawn to pick it up and shape it into something? Would you pass it from hand to hand, simply enjoying the tactile qualities? Perhaps you wouldn’t be inclined to touch it at all, maybe you find…

A Mere Bagatelle: From Marbles to Pinball and Beyond

A Mere Bagatelle: From Marbles to Pinball and Beyond

What does it take to play a game? Historic outdoor games like Duck on a Rock only require found stones. Other traditional outdoor games such as lawn bowls, bocce, and croquet used wooden balls. Early table versions of these games employed smaller ivory or wood balls or clay marbles. All these games have one thing…

Screen-Play: NBC’s Community and the National Toy Hall of Fame

Screen-Play: NBC’s Community and the National Toy Hall of Fame

Community is one of the most playful shows on television. The comedy about a study group at dysfunctional Greendale Community College not only features unconventional storytelling methods and an innovative visual style, but its characters actually play—all the time. And either its writers have been looking to The Strong for episode ideas, or the toys…