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National Toy Hall of Fame finalists announced

National Toy Hall of Fame finalists announced

Victoria E. Freile

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Published 12:40 PM EDT Sep 11, 2019

Care Bears, the Nerf Blaster and the smartphone are among the 12 finalists considered for a place in the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The other finalists announced Wednesday include the coloring book, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Jenga, Magic the Gathering, Masters of the Universe, Matchbox cars, My Little Pony, Risk and the top.

The winners will be inducted during a ceremony at the museum in downtown Rochester, New York, on Nov. 7. Last year’s inductees were the Magic 8 Ball, pinball and Uno.

“These 12 toys represent the wide scope of play – from the simple, traditional spinning top that has been played with since pre-history to the ultra-modern smartphone which has dramatically changed how people of all ages play and connect,” said Christopher Bensch, vice president for collections. “Whether old or new or imaginative or physical, all 12 of these toy finalists share an undeniable ability to inspire people to learn, create and discover through play.”

From thousands of toys nominated by the public, officials narrowed the field to a dozen. A committee of national experts, including toy collectors, professors and psychologists, pick the winners using these criteria – the toy must stand the test of time, it must be widely recognized and it must encourage learning, creativity and discovery through play over generations. Fans can vote for their favorite online at toyhalloffame.org.

Since 1998, 68 toys have joined the growing collection, which is housed inside the museum at 1 Manhattan Square. 

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More about this year’s finalists:

Care Bears: Tenderheart Bear and friends were created in the 1980s as a line of greeting card characters for American Greetings but boomed in popularity and starred in television shows and games. In 2015, Netflix launched an animated series around them.

The coloring book: No longer just for kids, a new genre of coloring books featuring more complex designs has caught on with adults. 

Fisher-Price Corn Popper: Toddlers have been pushing the wheeled toy along since 1957, watching and listening to the colorful balls inside the toy pop.

Jenga: The game in which players stack blocks, then try to remove them without toppling the tower was created by Englishwoman Leslie Scott based on wooden blocks from her childhood in Africa.

Magic the Gathering: The collectible card game was so popular when Wizards of the Coast released it in 1993 that the company couldn’t keep up with demand. The fantasy-themed game requires both chance and skill.

Masters of the Universe: Mattel’s action figures, including He-Man and She-Ra, were featured in a cartoon series from 1983 to 1985 and have been on toothbrushes, sleeping bags and other merchandise.

Matchbox cars: The toy cars debuted in 1952, and by 1960, they were selling at a rate of more than 100 million a year in the USA. If inducted, they would join competitor Hot Wheels, which already has a place in the National Toy Hall of Fame.

My Little Pony: Introduced in the 1980s and reintroduced in 2003, the small pastel ponies outsold even Barbie for several years at the peak of their popularity.

Nerf Blaster: Kids use the toy guns to fire off soft foam darts, missiles and disks.

Risk: The strategy board game challenges players to control armies and conquer the world. It was based on the French game La Conquête du Monde and was introduced in the USA in 1959.

Smartphone: Since the first iPhone was introduced in 2007, the smartphone has become a platform for countless mobile games and playful interactions, including sending GIFs and altering photos.

Top: The spinning top has been a childhood staple of cultures the world over, and depictions of it can be seen in art and pottery throughout human history.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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