The National Toy Hall of Fame has three new members… and one of them is a bit more decisive than the others. The American Girl Doll, the classic board game Risk, and sand were all part of the 2021 class inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong National Museum of Play.
It was a fierce competition for the coveted spots. Among the other nominees this year included The Settlers of Catan, Battleship, Cabbage Patch Kids, Mahjong, billiards, Masters of the Universe, the piñata, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, and the toy fire engine.
American Girl Dolls have become a childhood staple in American society. Created by Pleasant Rowland in 1986, these dolls were designed to come from all skin colors, cultural backgrounds, and time periods, along with unique and fascinating backstories.
The success of the American Girl brand has led to numerous spin-off products, such as magazines, games, and movies, as well as retail stores centered around the dolls. Not only are girls able to stylize their dolls with all sorts of hair styles, outfits, and accessories, but they also learn more about history.
Risk has been transforming tiny innocent children into war-mongering generals since 1957. The game focuses on “diplomacy, conflict, and conquest,” as the players battle each other for control of territories — 42 to be exact — across the globe.
The title comes from the intense, constant decision-making and strategy involved. According to the Museum, part of Risk’s appeal is that more than two players can join in, unlike other war games such as Battleship.
The Museum called sand the “most universal and oldest toy in the world,” noting that children recognize it as a play vehicle and that wet sand is great for shaping, molding, and sculpting. People started playing with sand as early as the 1800s, and its spawned additional toys such as sand castle molds.
Sand certainly takes the cake for being the “oldest” toy in the Hall of Fame – after all, it does come in at the ripe age of about 4.5 billion years. It’s also provided children (and even adults!) with hours of entertainment at the beach and playground.
While some might argue that sand doesn’t necessarily fit in with the typical “toy,” this kind of inductee isn’t exactly out of the ordinary for the Hall of Fame – cardboard boxes were inducted in 2005, and sticks were inducted in 2008. For children, the kind of material doesn’t matter as long as the source can provide a creative and exciting play experience.
The Toy Hall of Fame has inducted many beloved play pals over the years since it was established in 1998. Among its notable inductees include Mr. Potato Head, Legos, the Nintendo Game Boy, Star Wars action figures, the Teddy Bear, and Crayola Crayons.
If there’s a certain toy from your childhood that you think deserves the honor of being memorialized for all time, the Toy Hall of Fame accepts nominations on their website. The criteria needed for a toy to be inducted includes longevity (has become a staple instead of a trend), icon status (it’s widely recognized and remembered), discovery (the toy encourages discovery and creativity), and innovation (the toy changed the “play” landscape).
Andrew Rhoades is a Contributing Reporter at The National Digest based in New York. A Saint Joseph’s University graduate, Rhoades’ reporting includes sports, U.S., and entertainment. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.