Friday, February 04, 2011

The latest inductees into the Toy Hall of Fame (alas, no ant farm…)

What with the lamented passing of Uncle Milton of ant farm renown, posted about just yesterday, I got to thinking that somehow I had missed the late-2010 announcement of the toys that were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Frankly, this is a lot more interesting to me than the selections for most halls of fame (Boxing Hall of Fame, anyone?), as I have generally had some up close and personal experience with the stuff under consideration, and, thus, would be able to cast an informed vote. If I were part of the voting public which, when it comes to the National Toy Hall of Fame I am not.

I posted about the 2008 winners here.  That year yielded a pretty strong set of inductees – the baby doll, the skateboard, and, my personal favorite, the stick. (The stick joined the cardboard box, which has been part of the Hall since 2006. The bigger the better, I say. The kids in my neighborhood would have been overjoyed if a refrigerator or washing machine was delivered weekly to someone willing to let us cadge the box. What a completely wonderful, multi-purpose non-toy toy. Just think: box + stick = fort. What a combo.)

The 2009 picks were less thrilling to me. Other than the ball, which, amazingly, took a full decade to get the nod, the other two picks that year were the clackety-clack-clack Big Wheel, and the Nintendo Game Boy – neither of which is of particular interest to me.

This year’s winners were the Game of Life and Playing Cards.

I will say that the Game of Life is not now, and never has been, one of my favorite board games. I can easily think of a couple of dozen games that I would prefer to Game of Life. I think my problem with the GofL is that, unlike Clue, it strives for some element of verisimilitude that, in my book, it fails to achieve it. Perhaps it’s the little pink and blue off-spring.

Still, I’m feeling nostalgic for the rainy days of summer, which meant hanging out playing Monopoly, Sorry, Go to the Head of the Class, Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, and myriad other games, which provided a far more social experience than thumbing away at your own personal Nintendo Game Boy.

Personally, I’d rather have seen Parcheesi elected than GofL. Perhaps I should nominate it. (And, while I’m at it, how about Cootie?)

But Playing Cards. Now you’re talking.

GoFish, War, SlapJack, Hearts, Crazy-8’s, Old Maid, Authors, I Doubt It, Rummy, Gin Rummy, Rummy Royale, Solitaire (many variations, including Double Solitaire, which isn’t really solitaire now, is it?), and my all time favorite, Canasta.

I never learned Bridge, largely because in college, the bridge players were all smokers, which I was not.

I do come from a family of card players, however, and completely miss those Canasta sessions with my mother, especially when she tried to enforce her vas-licht-bicht rule. (I don’t have any German, but this translates into once you put your cards down, you can’t have second thoughts and put them back in your hand.)

I still enjoy wasting spending a few idle minutes playing solitaire – mostly online these days.

2010’s toy Hall of Fame nominees/non-winners were:

Cabbage Patch Kids, Chess, Dollhouse, Dominoes, Dungeons & Dragons, Hot Wheels, Lite Brite, Magic 8 Ball, Pogo Stick, and Rubik's Cube.

At first glance, what item does not belong on this list?

Yes, indeed, in whose world is Chess a toy? Okay, like Dungeons & Dragons it’s a game, but, while it may belong in some Hall of Fame or other, I don’t see it as a toy. And I wouldn’t rush D&D in there, either. I don’t think of kids having fun when I think D&D, I think of older kids having fun. Let them get their own Hall of Fame – maybe an annex to the regular, normal, kid-friendly HofF.

As for the other nominees, having never managed to get more than three colored squares together in a row, I’ll take a pass on Robik’s Cube. And Cabbage Patch Kids were after my time. My pick of the remainder list would be the dollhouse. My sister Kath had a kind of cheapo tin one, but we had great fun with it.

I wouldn’t mind having a dollhouse at some point. Maybe I’ll put it on my bucket list, so I can be a dotty old lady, peering into the windows of my classy, non-tin dollhouse, and stalking dollhouse stores looking for the perfect candelabra for the piano, the perfect cast iron skillet for the kitchen.

In any event, I’m happy that Playing Cards have made the cut. Portable, affordable, versatile, fun for all ages. What’s not to like?

By the way, Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm is not in the Hall yet. Perhaps when I nominate Cootie, I’ll add the ant farm to my ballot.

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