Friday, October 12, 2012

Tea Party Hearty: The Toy Hall of Fame Finalists for 2012

With all the crazy madness going on in the world, it’s nice to have the distraction of the National Toy Hall of Fame Finalists for 2012.

This year’s list – little toy drum roll please – includes:

Clue: Although I’m not especially fond of the current look and feel of the game board,cards and pieces – like everyone else in the world, I’m enamored of the version I grew up with – I will say that Clue is one of my all time favorite board games. I’d put Parcheesi/Sorry, and Monopoly, ahead of it. But I certainly whiled away plenty of hours over the years sussing out whether Professor Plum did it in the Conservatory with the Rope, or Colonel Mustard did it in the Billiard Room with the Revolver.

Clue is fun on many levels, not the least of which is imagining you’re Agatha Christie invited to spend a country weekend with some rich Brits to the manor born. What ho!

I’m not the only one who likes Clue. According to the Hall of Fame folks, it’s been the best selling board game since 1947.

Dominoes: This one has stood the test of time – it may have been invented by the first walking fish – but it’s not something I grew up with. I have played it a bit, and I do love the videos of a lineup of a kazillion dominoes keeling over. But is it really a toy toy?

Fisher Price Corn Popper: This is an inspired nomination, if only because it satisfies an underappreciated toy attribute: it drives grown ups nuts!  The Hall of Fame folks claim thFisher Price popcorn popperat the Corn Popper “makes loud and engaging noises.” And those noises are certainly engaging to any toddler making them, that’s for sure. I actually wish that they made an adult version. Imagine the fun you’d have pushing one around the office making “loud and engaging noises”.

Lite Brite: This ones after my time, but I’m all for the “potential for open-ended creativity”, but:

Little Green Army Men:  Talk about “open-ended creativity”. War on war on war on war. Sure, it hurt if you stepped on one barefoot. Maybe not bayonet through the pinky-Little green army mentoe hurt, but definitely an ouchy. But anything that costs next to nothing so that you can have in multiple-multiples is automatically great, is it not? Plus, if you liked chewing on plastic, you could always gnaw the heads off. (Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.)

Magic 8 Ball:  This is an excellent item, and everyone should have one – and, let’s face it, will need to have one – at some point or another in their life. But it is kind of the lazy kid’s Ouija Board, so it wouldn’t get my Hall of Fame vote.

Sidewalk Chalk:  In the age of graffiti, this seems pretty quaint, but, as long as there are sidewalks, I would hope that there would be chalk. But maybe not. I remember reading a few months back that some Home Owners Association was trying to ban chalk – talk about a no-fun bunch. Banning chalk? It’s not as if it’s spray painted on. One good rain storm (or a hosing down) gets rid of the hopscotch, tic-tac-toe, and jellyroll markings.  Or the swear words.

Tea Sets:  I had a couple of tea sets as a child - the standard issue pink plastic kit, and a miniature china set (white with pink rosebuds) that could not really be used for a tea party (too small) but was pretty to look at. I would have been all in favor of electing the tea set to the Toy Hall of Fame, if not for their write up on it:

Tiny tea sets have been part of child’s play for the last three centuries, encouraging children to imitate the adult rituals, manners, and decorum of tea drinking. Along the way, children learn gender roles, poise, and social graces, and start to imagine their futures as adults.

Imitating adult rituals – check. (Even though the tea party hasn’t really been much of an adult ritual since the days of Mamie Eisenhower.)

Manners – check. Really, some level of politeness should never, ever, ever go out of style.

Decorum of tea drinking – need to know basis only, and I really don’t think there are very many people with that particular need to know, are there?

And I’m not wild about that learning gender roles bit.

What, precisely, does this mean? That little girls should be trained up to pour tea, pass the milk, and ask whether someone wants one lump or sugar or two?

Poise and grace are things that both genders could stand to develop. But learning your “gender role” from a tea set? Personally, I’d rather bite the head off of a little green soldier.

There are a few hold-overs from last year’s nominees, and my feelings from last year still stand.

Pogo Stick: Kids were supposed to have them, but I never knew anyone who actually did.

Simon:  A memory game and, thus, something I would have been good at.  But not something I was especially familiar with.

Start Wars Action Figures: Not my cup of tea set.

Twister: Too dangerous.

I will brag here that of last year’s list, the two that I would have voted for – the doll house and hot wheels – were the two that were elected.

This year I have to go with three: Clue, Little Green Army Men, and Chalk.

Come mid-November, when the winners are announced, we’ll find out how I did this time around.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Agree on the pogo sticks. I grew up in Philly and neither I nor any friend had ever run into anyone who had one. For a while I went to a summer camp in the Catskills where most of the other kids came from NYC and vicinity, and none of them ever had one or seen one except as pictures in a magazine.

Pogo sticks existed as rumor only, as far as I can tell. Although parents of the 1950s were vastly less protective of (or paranoid about, depending upon your POV) their kids than now, they weren't particularly athletic either and probably imagined a kid on a pogo stick losing control and bouncing out in front of a moving car. I wouldn't mind taking one out for a ride someday.