Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Doll house, yes! Star Wars action figures, no! (This year’s nominations for the Toy Hall of Fame are out.)

Well the long awaited nominations for coveted inclusion in The National Toy Hall of Fame are out, and the list is an interesting one.

The Doll House is on it, and that’s my personal fave, even if I have never actually had a doll house. I did get to share the use of my sister Kathleen’s, which was painted tin and altogether pretty cheesy, and nobody’s idea of a dream doll house. To this day, I am always drawn to doll houses, and, whenever I see them on sale, like to poke around and look at the miniature furniture and finishings. I guess this is not surprising, given that I have it all planned out how I could live in a 99 square foot home. Small is beautiful! So, go, Doll House!

Star Wars action figures have also been nominated. Basically, what I know about Star Wars is what registered in my brain during the first twenty minutes of the first movie, at which time I exited the auditorium and never picked up where I left off. Of course, it’s impossible not to know that Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, R2D2, 3CPO, and Princess Leia actually do, errrrr, exist. It’s just that none of this has ever captured my interest. While action figures are dolls – and, thus, good and imagination-spurring toys – I would have to give this one a voting pass, if anyone from The National Toy Hall of Fame should care to ask.

Dungeons & Dragons? I’m a Star Wars scholar compared to what I know about D&D, although I did use to work with a guy who was into it. And how, pray tell, does fantasy role play qualify as a toy?

Hot Wheels, on the other hand, are a toy. And given that cars do for one category of small children what dolls do for another  - I’m not making any secondary sex characteristic pronouncement here; if you want to interpret this one your way, feel free to do so – I would give a vote to Hot Wheels, as well. That is, unless there’s something better on the list.

Jenga? Although I once used Jengas as a dimensional mailer to capture the interest of analysts in some god-awful product I was marketing – it kind of worked: at least they knew who I was when I called – I don’t think that Jenga ever reached the level of popularity that would qualify it for TNTHofF. Just saying.

The Pogo Stick was an iconic toy of my childhood. That is, it would have been if any one I knew had ever had one. Which they didn’t. Still, we would see them all the time in books portraying kids at play. Of course, those books always showed the little girls playing in smocked cotton dresses, so they were already a little dated and bogus. But I did always want a Pogo Stick back in the day. Today, I would fear that, even if they came in my size, I would fall off it and break a hip.

The puppet. The PUPPET? Sure, there are some wonderful puppets out there – cute little furry animals – but puppets, perhaps because they are first cousins to the marionette and the ventriloquist dummy – are way, way, way too close to the clown to not conjure up a tad bit of creep factor.

Remote Control Vehicles. Fun, for sure, but I would not swap them out as vehicle of choice in a head to head against Hot Wheels, which actually have to be human-powered, both for the motion and for the accompanying vroom-vroom noises.

Someone with no spatial reasoning is never going to vote for Rubik’s Cube. Honestly, I’m really good at logic puzzles, but I draw the line here. I think the most I was ever able to do was line up two squares of the same color next to each other. Come on, toys aren’t supposed to make some kids feel dumb while it makes other kids feel smart, are they? I mean, there are enough things in life that do that.

Simon was the one item on the list that, while I was aware of its existence, I had absolutely no idea whatsoever what it was. Alas, all these many years too late, I learn that it is a memory game. While I suppose I would have to categorize it using my Rubik’s Rubric of toys not making some kids look smart and other kids look dumb, I will say that this sounds like the sort of thing that I would have excelled at. Tis pity.

Transformers? Another no vote, I’m afraid. Too much the spawn of Star Wars action figures and Rubik’s Cube for my taste.

Last on the list, Twister.  Been there, played that. A tad bit too much potential for your head to end up in someone else’s crotch – or worse. Surely, it must have been a mortal sin for Catholics to play Twister?

Bottom line: my votes go to the Doll House and Hot Wheels.

We’ll see what happens come November 10th when this year’s two inductees are named.

List source: Rochester Business Journal. Rochester is home of the Strong National Museum of Play, which houses the Hall of Fame.


I missed last year’s new inductee announcement by a couple of months, but did redeem myself with a belated post, and The National Toy Hall of Fame is absolutely on my bucket list. Or would be if I had one.


Anonymous said...

Ask any 30-40 year old man, and they spent most of their childhood playing with star wars figures. They were THE toy for my generation (of boys). So much so that I still look at them in the store longingly.

On the other hand, I never owned a doll house. My girls have one, but they play far more with my hand-me-down star wars figures.

Anonymous said...

I am a 40 yr old woman and star wars was a huge part of my childhood and yes they were the toy of my generation too. Give me a Death Star over a doll house anyway.