Meet the 2019 National Toy Hall of Fame Finalists

The Strong News Release
NEWS RELEASE
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 • 585-263-2700 • museumofplay.org

September 11, 2019

For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365, srhinewald@museumofplay.org

Noelle McElrath-Hart, 585-410-6325, nmcelrath@museumofplay.org

Meet the 2019 National Toy Hall of Fame Finalists

The following 12 toys are finalists for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Only three will take their honored places in the hall this year when they are announced at a ceremony at The Strong on Thursday, November 7 at 10:30 a.m. ​

Care Bears

Created in the early 1980s for the American Greetings Corporation, the Care Bears began as a line of greeting cards but grew to include plastic mini-dolls and plush teddy bears. The cheerful characters—such as Funshine Bear and Tenderheart Bear—launched storybooks, television shows, movies, games, and home decorations. Their popularity endures and, in 2015, Netflix launched a new animated series featuring the playful band of bears.

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.

Fisher-Price Corn Popper

Fisher-Price introduced the Corn Popper in 1957, calling it an amusement device for young children. Parents quickly discovered that by pushing the device, children could strengthen gross motor skills. The bright, flying balls and popping sound helped to stimulate the senses, promoting curiosity and discovery.

Jenga

Englishwoman Leslie Scott created Jenga based on wooden blocks from her childhood in Africa. The word jenga is the imperative form of kujenga, the Swahili verb “to build.” With its catchy name and edge-of-your-seat gameplay, Jenga has inspired both young and old to enjoy the towering, toppling results.

Magic the Gathering

Wizards of the Coast published Magic the Gathering in 1993, and the uniquely collectible card game became so successful that the firm could not meet demand at first. The game—which draws on popular fantasy themes—requires both chance and skill to defeat opponents in one-on-one battles, encouraging players to collect new cards and to refine their deck and strategies. The game continues to evolve and produce new sets of cards and rules.

Masters of the Universe

The Master of the Universe line of action figures, which includes the iconic He-Man and She-Ra, traces its popularity to maker Mattel’s use of comic books, television, and the big screen. The cartoon series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which ran from 1983 to 1985, created a cohesive, fantasy world that allowed Mattel to introduce new characters and new toys to the line. Over the years, Mattel has paired the brand with everything from toothbrushes to sleeping bags.

Matchbox Cars

Matchbox Cars debuted in 1952 and sped past competitor toy cars by combining high-quality with low prices. By 1960, Matchbox Cars annually sold more than 100 million units in America and the name “Matchbox” became synonymous with miniature cars. Despite stiff competition from Hot Wheels (brought to market in 1968 and inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2011), Matchbox Cars remain a top-seller for toymaker Mattel.

My Little Pony

Introduced in the 1980s and reintroduced in 2003, the My Little Pony line of mini-horses encourages children in traditional forms of doll play—fantasy, storytelling, hair grooming, and collecting. The small pastel ponies have come in more than 1,000 varieties, all with elongated tails and manes made to be brushed. The toys peaked in popularity between 1982 and 1993—even outselling Barbie for several years. 

Nerf Blaster

Based on the soft foam of Nerf balls from the 1960s, Nerf blasters have created excitement with darts, missiles, disks, and rounds for more than a quarter century. The blasters cultivate social engagement, promote outdoor play, and encourage kids and adults to imaginatively assume the role of some of their favorite pop culture characters while competing with their friends.

Risk

Based on the French game Le Conquete du Monde, Risk translates the hobby of wargaming with miniature figures into a mass-produced war and strategy board game. First published in the United States in 1959, Risk challenges players to control armies and conquer the world. The game’s innovative mechanics ignited renewed interest in strategy games in the 1970s and continues to influence the board game industry.

Smartphone

Since Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, the smartphone has become not only a platform for millions of mobile games but also a plaything that makes possible an endless variety of playful interactions, from sending emojis and GIFs to creating silly videos and altering snapshots. It has transcended its original intended use and revolutionized the way that people across the globe interact with the world and each other in playful ways.

Top

Since ancient times, the spinning top has been a childhood staple of cultures in Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Australia. Depictions of it show up in art and pottery across geographies and throughout human history. Children today still play with this classic toy, calculating the placement, centrifugal force, and velocity needed to execute the longest spin or to capture their competitors’ prized tops.