Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Toy Story 2013: Hall of Fame Inductees are just ducky

One of my favorite posts of the year is when the Toy Hall of Fame declares its inductees for the year.

Last year, my hopes were on Clue, chalk and little green army men to make the Hall.

Alas, the winners were Star War action figures and dominoes, which, frankly, I don’t really consider a toy at all.

Unfortunately, I missed the announcement of this years finalists which, once again, included Clue and little green army men. Chalk got dropped, but bubbles were added to this year’s list of nominees.

Bubbles! What a perfect toy! Inexpensive, “fun for all ages,” portable, and requires no ability whatsoever to make work and enjoy.

When I was a kid, fancy-dancy bubble pipes were the rage. This was the one and only image I could find of the type of bubble pipe I’m talking about, and you can tell from the b&w and the outfit on the kiddo that we’re talking ‘bout my Bubble pipe of my childhoodgeneration here. In fact, this little guy looks a lot like my brother Rick.

While this was the preferred pipe of my era, I will admit that, as an adult, I have grown fonder of the simple and perfectly functional wand that comes inside the bubble bottle.

If bubbles are in this corner in terms of accessibility and outright fun, Chess is in the opposite corner.

If I don’t consider dominoes a toy, imagine my chagrin at finding chess on the list.

Well, given the decline in the number of STEM graduates, I suppose we should be happy that there are actually some children out there who consider chess a toy, but I sure wasn’t one of them.

Chess-as-toy reminds me of a client call I made, with my boss, oh,  30 years ago. We were having lunch with the client, who worked for Pitney Bowes, when we got on the topic of some early computer-based chess game that was popular. Our client – let’s call him Bob – mentioned that he had attained Level Two.

My boss, who had a quite wonderful way with those he did not consider his intellectual equal, which was just about everyone he came in contact with, let out a rip-roaring snort. “Level Two? My six-year-old son is past Level Two.”

As I mentioned, Clue made the nominee list. (Spoiler alert:  always a bridesmaid…) As did Fisher-Price Little People, and Little Green Army Men. (Spoiler alert: if little green army men can be bridesmaids….)

The Magic 8 Ball was also nominated. While the Magic 8 Ball is an exceedingly useful item – one which, I believe, was used to set strategy in several companies I worked for, including the one that had Pitney Bowes as a marquee client  – I don’t actually consider it toy-worthy.

My Little Pony, while exceedingly heinous, is undoubtedly a toy. But the less said about My Little Pony, the better.

Nerf Toys were nominated, and I’m down with this choice.

Pac-Man was, too. While I am in no way, shape, or form a gamer, at some point, this one has got to make the Hall, since (handheld chess game aside) it pretty much ushered in the electronic game era.

Rubber Ducks were on the list, a brilliant choice. Like Rubber-duck bubbles, rubber ducks are inexpensive and oh, so, easy to use. (Would you take a chess set into the bathtub with you?) Rubber ducks even have their own theme song.

As a child, I had a much beloved rubber duck. My was not a cute little yellow duckie, of course. It was a no-nonsense, rubber mallard. (Where did my parents get the odd-ball toys they stuck us with?) I cherished Duckie Doodah and, somewhere, there’s a photo of me, sucking on Duckie Doodah’s bill. (I’m offering a finder’s fee for that snapshot, by the way…)

The Scooter was nominated. Like last year’s pogo stick, a scooter was a toy that everyone was aware of, but which no one I knew possessed, or had even seen on real life. Like the pogo stick, it seemed like a relic of the 1930’s and 1940’s. I am happy to see that scooters have made a comeback, although I must say that some of these parents on Charles Street let their kids scoot around too damned fast.

Rounding out the list was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Certainly fun, certainly a toy, but let’s just see if they stand the true test of time.

And the winners?


The Rubber Duckie. (Pink Slip thumbs up!)

And Chess. (Pink Slip thumbs down.) Kids – at least the brainiacs – may be willing to try this at home, but, come on, chess is not a toy.

Bubbles, now there’s a toy. Maybe next year…

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