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National Toy Hall of Fame Names 12 Toy Finalists, Including ‘Sand’

By Gary Symons
TLL Editor in Chief
The Strong National Museum of Play announced Thursday the 12 finalists for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
Weirdly, the list of top toys includes sand. Like the kind you find at the beach.
The full list of finalists include American Girl dolls, the game Battleship, the game of billiards, Cabbage Patch Kids, the Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Mahjong, Masters of the Universe, piñatas, the game of Risk, sand, The Settlers of Catan and toy fire engines.
The most surprising thing on the list is the range of items, which includes complex games like billiards and Risk on the one hand, and actual grains of sand on the other.

“These 12 toys represent the wide scope of playthings, from one of the most universal playthings in the world, like sand, to a game-changing board game, like Risk, to the popular adult game of billiards,” said Christopher Bensch, vice president for collections. “Whether old or new, for kids or adults, all 12 of these toy finalists greatly influenced the world of play.”

The National Toy Hall of Fame receives thousands of nominations annually, and this year, fans may vote for their favorite finalists from Sept. 15–22 as part of a Player’s Choice ballot.

The three toys that receive the most public votes will be submitted and will join the other top-three submissions selected by members of the National Selection Advisory Committee. According to the museum, the public will essentially act as one member of the 23-member committee.

The final 2021 toy inductees will be chosen based on the ballots, and will be announced by The Strong National Museum of Play on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 10:30 a.m.

The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame says the goal is to recognize toys that have engaged and delighted multiple generations of children, and in some cases adults.

The criteria for being chosen for the Hall of Fame includes things like having the status of an ‘icon’, or in other words, the toy must be almost universally recognized and respected. Judges also look at the longevity of the toy, and in that category, it’s going to be pretty hard to beat ‘sand’!

On the other hand, the judges also look at ‘discovery’, or how the toy fosters learning and creativity through play, and ‘innovation’, which is probably not sand’s strong suit.

As of now, there have been 74 toys inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

That list of current inductees includes, in alphabetical order: alphabet blocks, the Atari 2600 Game System, baby dolls, Baby Nancy, balls, Barbie, the bicycle, the Big Wheel, blankets, bubbles, Candy Land, the cardboard box, checkers, chess, Clue, coloring books, Crayola Crayons, dollhouses, dominoes, the Duncan Yo-Yo, Dungeons & Dragons, Easy-Bake Oven, the Erector Set, Etch A Sketch, Fisher-Price Little People, Frisbee, G.I. Joe, The Game of Life, Hot Wheels, Hula Hoop, jack-in-the-box, jacks, Jenga, jigsaw puzzle, jump rope, kite, LEGO, Lincoln Logs, Lionel Trains, little green army men, the Magic 8 Ball, Magic: The Gathering, marbles, Matchbox Cars, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Nintendo Game Boy, paper airplanes, pinball machines, Play-Doh, playing cards, puppets, Radio Flyer Wagon, Raggedy Ann and Andy, rocking horses, roller skates, rubber ducks, Rubik’s Cube, Scrabble, sidewalk chalk, Silly Putty, skateboards, the Slinky, Star Wars action figures, sticks, Super Soaker, swings, teddy bears, Tinkertoy, Tonka Trucks, Twister, Uno, View-Master and Wiffle Ball.

Up until now, the longest lasting Hall of Fame toy of all time would almost certainly be ‘sticks’, but that record will be broken if ‘sand’ wins the day. According to scientific research, land plants that produced sticks first appeared on Earth from 500 million to 800 million years ago, although it’s not clear who would have been playing with them at the time.

By contrast, the oldest grain of sand ever found (and no, we’re not making this up) is a single piece of blue sand from Australia that clocked in at 4.37 billion years old, making it also the oldest toy found on Earth.

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