Home of the World’s Best Toys
Long after Christmas ends, there is a place toys go to be cherished forever: the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York.
Founded in 1998, the organization honors those select toys that, the organization says, “inspire creative play and enjoy popularity over a sustained period of time.”
Because toys “foster imagination, creativity and critical thinking,” the organization honors them as “among the most important human artifacts.”
Currently, 49 toys have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, with new ones added every year.
Being chosen for the honor involves an extensive public nomination and national selection process. Some of the more surprising additions include Cardboard Box (2005), Stick (2008) and Ball (2009).
A more recent inductee, Blanket (2011), earned its spot because of the toy’s versatility.
A blanket, according to the Hall of Fame, transforms into whatever a child’s imagination calls for, be it “a king’s robe, a bride’s veil (and) a superhero’s cape” or “a Roman soldier’s cloak, a princess’s flowing gown and a wizard’s flying carpet.”
Originally housed at A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village in Salem, Oregon, the Hall of Fame made the move to Rochester in 2002.
The new location offers more space to better accommodate the growing number of toys joining the ranks of the world’s most-beloved playthings.
In Rochester, the Hall of Fame is housed alongside the collections of The National Museum of Play, which is home to the world’s largest collection of toys and dolls.
During their visit, people are encouraged to interact with the toys.
The museum features hula-hoops, blocks and a giant Mr. Potato Head, all available for the activity toys are made for: playtime.
Two Famous Playtime Spoofs
From the Garden to the Garbage
Where one is sweet and smiley, the other is smelly and slimy.
Popular lore about Garbage Pail Kids claims the cards were created as an alternative to the “more feminine” Cabbage Patch Doll.
First produced in 1985 by The Topps Company, the collectible cards grew so popular that schools banned them. Parents worried, as one mother told The New York Times, that the Garbage Pail cards were “not at all healthy.”
Coleco, makers of Cabbage Patch Dolls, weren’t too keen on the Garbage Pail Kids either. The company sued Topps, resulting in a makeover of the Garbage Pail Kids to less resemble their more wholesome counterparts.
Today, Garbage Pail Kids continue to be popular, with a film currently in production.
No word yet on which kids—Allie Oops, Hard-Boiled Meg or Disgustin’ Justin, to name a few—will dump the trash can for the silver screen.
In the early 1960s, Chatty Cathy changed the way Americans think about dolls.
Produced by Mattel, Cathy was one of the first toys to talk using a pull-string.
Cathy had 11 different phrases, including “Please brush my hair” and “I love you.” Reproduced in recent years to meet collector demand, a mint condition model can sell for more than $600.
Not so popular is Cathy’s crazed counterpart, Talky Tina. Introduced in a 1963 episode of American television series “The Twilight Zone,” Talky Tina spends the show terrorizing a family.
To add to the creep factor, the same woman who recorded Cathy’s catchphrases speaks for Tina, too. Her most famous line for the psycho plaything: “My name is Talky Tina and you’ll be sorry.”