Well fourth time wasn’t a charm for the Magic 8 Ball (which saddens me slightly as I still have one in my office for those “difficult” decisions), but we did see another game make it into the Hall of Fame which I always find exciting. Chess, along with the iconic rubber duck, are the 52nd and 53rd item to make it into the National Toy Hall of Fame. I ranted a few years back about how I’d rather see an old classic like chess make it into the Hall of Fame versus an item like stick or box as chess is a man-developed amusement whereas stick and box rely on the imagination to become many different wondrous things.
I find it fitting that these two items made it into the Hall of Fame this year. This year as we saw Florentijn Hofman’s giant floating rubber duck sculpture make it’s first stop in the United States — and I wish I had seen it in person! (pic at right from WIRED) I also felt like chess kept popping up on my radar — granted most of the time it was about Chessboxing but still, kudos to chess for still being relevant! So here’s what the National Toy Hall of Fame looks like now (click image to enlarge it):
The National Toy Hall of Fame has included blurbs in their press release about each one of the inductees that I thought you’d all enjoy:
About chess: One of the world’s oldest games, chess springs from an ancient Indian war game called chaturanga, in which pawns represented different types of fighting men. The game caught on in Asia and finally in Europe, where it was called “the royal game” or “the king’s game” because, during medieval times, the leisured nobility enjoyed playing it. By 1475, in England, chess evolved into the game we recognize today, with similar pieces and moves. The oldest-known set of chess playing pieces, called the Lewis Chessmen, was found on the Isle of Lewis near Scotland. Dating from the 12th century, the pieces were carved from walrus ivory, probably in Norway. (A reproduction of that set is currently on view at the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, see pic at top.) On a more contemporary note, a game of wizard’s chess, with larger-than-life animated pieces, has Harry, Ron, and Hermione scrambling across a chess board in a climactic scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Today, players of all ages around the world compete in informal games and official chess tournaments. The World Chess Federation (FIDE), founded in Paris in 1924, presides over the prestigious world champion awards that generate global media attention. But human players need to watch their moves, because the latest computers offer serious competition; and online chess games—from very easy to exceptionally difficult—can challenge any player.
About rubber duck: There’s no evidence of exactly who hatched the idea of the rubber duck. Rubber toys first appeared in the late 1800s, when manufacturers made use of Charles Goodyear’s process for rendering rubber into malleable material. The first rubber ducks didn’t even float: they were cast solid and intended as chew toys. By the 1940s, the yellow figure evolved into the iconic floating companion we recognize today, saturating children’s daily bath time rituals with splashing good fun. Brightly colored, smoothly textured, and sometimes squeaky, the toddler’s popular bath time friend sharpens senses, builds hand muscles and hand-eye coordination, and soothes youngsters’ fears of water. In1970, Sesame Street’s Ernie fixed the rubber duck’s image as the quintessential tub toy when he sang “Rubber Duckie,” a delightful ditty that actually rose to number16 on the Billboard chart of hit tunes. Since 2007, a gigantic rubber duck by Dutch artist Florentjin Hofman, about the size of a six-story building, made a big splash around the world as it floated in the harbor of 14 cities, in a tour he named “Spreading Joy Around the World.” Today, rubber ducks aren’t even rubber—they’re mostly made of vinyl—but the cheerful yellow quackers have become iconic items in pop culture worldwide.