If you find yourself near Rochester, NY, (whether you have kids or not) carve out a few hours to spend at the National Museum of Play. Not only is it an excellent interactive children's museum, it is filled with exhibits about the history of toys and houses the National Toy Hall of Fame. Seeing the toys chosen for induction was not only a trip down memory lane (and the memory lane of my parents' generation), but it gave me a new perspective on what to look for when buying toys.
The Toy Hall of Fame was established in 1998 and moved to this location in 2002. So far 49 toys have been inducted using these criteria:
- Icon-status: The toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered
- Longevity: The toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations
- Discovery: The toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play
- Innovation: The toy profoundly changed play or toy design. A toy may be inducted on the basis of this criterion without necessarily having met all of the first three.
Here are some of my favorite hall of famers and some of the interesting things I learned about them: