2021 Toy Hall of Fame Inductees Announced!


Today the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong, The National Museum of Play, announced which 3 of the 12 finalists it selected to be inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame.  Announced earlier this fall, the finalists were: American Girl Dolls, Battleship, billiards, Cabbage Patch Kids, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Mahjong, Masters of the Universe, piñata, Risk, sand, The Settlers of Catan, and toy fire engine.  The winners: American Girl Dolls, Risk, and sand!  Below is the information about each item that was shared in The Strong’s Press Release. (All photos and quotes below Courtesy of The Strong®, Rochester, New York)

Three Risk games, one in red box shows French title, retro blue box and current box in lower left

Courtesy of The Strong®, Rochester, New York

About the Inductees

About Risk 

Based on the French game Le Conquete du Monde, Risk translates the hobby of wargaming with miniature figures into a mass-produced war and strategy board game. First published in the United States in 1959, Risk challenges players to control armies and conquer the world. The game’s innovative mechanics ignited renewed interest in strategy games in the 1970s and continues to influence the board game industry.

“Risk became one of the most popular board games of all time, inspiring a new corps of passionate gamers, and influencing other games which began the wargaming hobby—and by extension the Euro-games like The Settlers of Catan that many enjoy today,” says Curator Nicolas Ricketts.

About American Girl

Created in 1986 by educator Pleasant Rowland, the 18-inch American Girl dolls—and their accompanying books—explore America’s social and cultural history. Each historical doll comes with a unique narrative that fits her era, such as Molly McIntire, who is waiting for her father to return home from World War II. American Girl released the Truly Me 18-inch contemporary doll line in 1995 (originally under the name American Girl Today) to help girls express their individuality and build confidence.

Says Curator Michelle Parnett-Dwyer, “Rowland’s formula for combining doll play with history lessons worked, in her words, like ‘chocolate cake with vitamins.’ In an era when some education experts claimed that school curriculums paid little attention to history, this toy may well have filled a void. It now offers a range of dolls and stories of girls growing-up in America and promotes diversity in the world of dolls.”

About Sand

Sand may be the most universal and oldest toy in the world. Educator Maria Montessori has argued that sand “is only one substance that the modern child is allowed to handle quite freely.” Children recognize sand as a creative material suitable for pouring, scooping, sieving, raking, and measuring. Wet sand is even better, ready for kids to construct, shape, and sculpt. Sand provides unique opportunities for tactical, physical, cooperative, creative, and independent free play.

Chief Curator Christopher Bensch says, “Although some playthings can only be found online or in certain stores, sand has a global reach that most toy manufacturers would envy. It’s been a vehicle for play since prehistory, and anyone who has spent the day at the beach can understand the allure of this toy.”

My 2 Cents

As I mentioned in my nominee post, I loved my American Girl Doll when I was younger so America Girl Dolls got my vote, but I’m always thrilled to see another game make it into the Hall of Fame.  Sand is an interesting one and joins the “free” playthings like cardboard box and stick that are already in the Hall of Fame.  I’m always so torn on these, because these things were not “designed” or created to be a plaything, but it’s the creativity of children that make them such.  Without the imagination of a child a stick is just a stick and box is just a box, but it’s children who make them come to life.  All the toys and games in the Hall of Fame give kids an idea of how to start.  What did you think of their choices?  Join the discussion on Twitter or Facebook.