What’s in a name, anyway? From the Ouija board to Twister, from Rubik’s Cube to Pictureka, toy and game designers often seek unique and memorable names, or names that cleverly describe both the thing and the play. “Jenga” is one clever game name. While it doesn’t mean anything else besides the game in English, the word “jenga” is based on “to build” in Swahili. In the early 1990s the promoters stressed Jenga’s name in this advertisement. Kids and adults alike […]
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The Stick Stands Out
Excitement was building at the start of November as we prepared to induct three new toys-the baby doll, the skateboard, and the stick-into the National Toy Hall of Fame. I’d studied up on the toys’ histories, gathered my anecdotes, and felt prepared to explain to anyone who asked the all compelling reasons why they should join the 38 classic toys already in the Hall.
But I didn’t quite expect the intense media and public response to one of those toys. You […]
Old Play=New Play?
Ever since they started appearing in kids’ lives in the 1970s, video games have caused controversy. Many grownups fret that video games keep kids glued to the screen instead of setting up a board game, heading outside to play ball, or engaging in other forms of more traditional play (click here for a great demonstration of this view).It’s true that children are spending more time playing video games. A recent study from the Pew Foundation, for example, documents that both boys […]
Calling all Barbie Play Sets!
Feeling nostalgic for your old Barbie dolls? Well, 2009 is the year for you because Barbie is turning 50! Barbie sure doesn’t show her age (we should all be so lucky), even though she’ll be old enough to qualify for an AARP card. And Barbie certainly hasn’t lost her taste for fun over the years. There’ll be Barbie fashions and Barbie reissues in 2009, just for a start. And, of course, Strong National Museum of Play is planning an exhibit and celebratory programming in her honor. After all, […]
The Perfect Holiday Gift
Growing up in the late ’70s and early ’80s, “visions of sugarplums” never danced in my head and my dream of the perfect holiday gift never included a Red Ryder BB gun. What I really wanted to find under the tree was the latest video game. The eagerly anticipated holiday wish books sent by Sears and JCPenney offered page after page of electronic games for my friends and me to consider, and the ones we coveted most were the video games for […]
Playing with Politics
Now that Election Day has come and gone, it’s time to think about the fun side of politics. Yes, there is a fun side to politics, at least when you look at the dozens of politically-themed games in the collection here at Strong National Museum of Play. Throughout American history, games of all sorts have often reflected current politics and events on the national scene.
Beginning with mass-produced games in the late 19th century, card games and board games appeared that take patriotism and the […]
The Odd Ogg Blog
What’s that scuttling across the floor? A horseshoe crab? A Roomba vacuum cleaner? No, it’s Odd Ogg, a nifty interactive toy from 1962. If you’re feeling formal, you might want to call him Mr. Ogg, since that’s how the folks at Ideal referred to him when the company introduced the rolling green plastic toy with his beady pink eyes and gaping mouth. While Odd Ogg wouldn’t win any beauty pageants, his interactive responses (powered by two D batteries) were pretty impressive for his time.
So how does […]
The number one question around my school as Halloween approached was always, “What are you going to be this year?” Your Halloween costume–and your one-night-only alternate identity–was something to be weighed carefully and debated seriously with your friends. But, for Halloween night itself, an equally important question to ponder was, “How are you going to collect your candy and haul it safely home?”
Through the years, trick-or-treaters have used various sorts of bags and buckets to gather their goodies door-to-door. The […]