Playing Cards and The Game of Life Inducted into National Toy Hall of Fame

Natonal Toy Hall of Fame News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 585-263-2700

November 4, 2010

For Immediate Release

Contact: Susan Trien, 585-410-6359

Playing Cards and The Game of Life®
Inducted into National Toy Hall of Fame®
at the Strong

ROCHESTER, New York—Give a great big hand to playing cards and a well-deserved bonus to The Game of Life, the two newest toys inducted today into the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong. Both honored toys continue to engross generations of players in games of luck, skill, and playful interaction.

The two honorees were selected from among 12 toy finalists that included: Cabbage Patch Kids®, Chess, Dollhouse, Dominoes, Dungeons & Dragons®, Hot Wheels,® Lite Brite®, Magic 8 Ball®, Pogo Stick, and Rubik’s Cube®.

From Go Fish to Texas Hold‘em— and from bridge to Old Maid—playing cards offer more game variations than any other single kind of gaming device. With earliest origins in China, India, and Egypt, playing cards were widely known in Europe after the 1600s. The first American card decks came directly from England; after the Revolution, printers in the United States soon managed to print their own playing cards. From then onward, card decks became a fixture in many households.

Some small innovations developed over the years: two-sided face cards (the royal cards) meant players didn’t have to turn their cards to see a Jack or a King’s face, and indices (the small numbers at the corners of cards) allowed players to hold their cards closer in a “fan,” so other players couldn’t see their hands. But the earliest American playing cards look very similar to the cards we all recognize today.

For generations, The Game of Life has invited players to journey through life (from college, to business, to marriage, to parenthood, and retirement) and end up either in Millionaire Acres—or the Poor Farm (renamed Countryside Acres in the 2010 version). In 1860, Milton Bradley, founder of the company, originally printed and sold a game called The Checkered Game of Life. As 1960 approached, the Milton Bradley Company enlisted independent inventor Reuben Klamer to come up with a game that would commemorate the firm's 100th anniversary. Klamer took the "Life" name from the 1860 game but created a completely new game for a new era. The Game of Life chartered fresh territory for board games with its three-dimensional board and its integral plastic spinner. To promote the game, the Milton Bradley Company hired popular radio and television personality Art Linkletter to add his "personal endorsement." The Game of Life quickly became one of the nation’s most popular board games. Since then, it has been updated several times and both electronic and specially-themed versions are now widely available. One of the best-selling games of all time, The Game of Life has been translated into at least 20 languages.

The National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong recognizes toys that have engaged and delighted multiple generations, inspiring them to learn, create, and discover through play.  Criteria for induction include:  Icon-status (the toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered); Longevity (the toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations); Discovery (the toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play); and Innovation (the toy profoundly changed play or toy design). 

To date, the following 46 toys have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame:  Alphabet Blocks, Atari® 2600 Game System, Ball, Barbie®, Baby Doll, Bicycle, Big Wheel®, Candy Land®, Cardboard Box, Checkers, Crayola® Crayons, Duncan® Yo-Yo, Easy-Bake® Oven, Erector® Set, Etch A Sketch®, Frisbee®, The Game of Life®, G.I. Joe™,  Hula Hoop®, Jack-in-the-Box, Jacks, Jigsaw Puzzle, Jump Rope, Kite, LEGO®, Lincoln Logs®, Lionel® Trains, Marbles, Monopoly®, Mr. Potato Head®, Nintendo Game Boy®, Play-Doh®, Playing Cards, Radio Flyer® Wagon, Raggedy Ann & Andy™, Rocking Horse, Roller Skates, Scrabble®, Silly Putty®, Skateboard, Slinky®, Stick, Teddy Bear, Tinkertoy®, Tonka® Trucks, and View-Master®.

For more information on the National Toy Hall of Fame, visit