Did you know that there was a National Toy Hall of Fame? I didn’t either, but The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, manages the Hall of Fame and every year identifies a dozen or so toys, games, and playthings to nominate to the Hall of Fame, then picks the top two or three to induct!
This year there were three: Fisher-Price Little People, Dungeons & Dragons and the Swing. Yes, the swing. That seems a bit daft, but really, aren’t many of the best toys and games things that have been around for centuries? It’s certainly consistent with some of the other playthings that the museum has inducted in previous years: puppets (2015), bubbles (2014), blanket and doll house (2011), playing cards (2010), a ball (2009), a stick (2008) and back in 2000 they added a bumper crop of bicycle, jacks, jump rope and Slinky.
I mean, come on, who doesn’t like a Slinky?
From a board game perspective, not many have made the list, perhaps because of the focus on younger children. In the museum from the board game world are: Monopoly, Scrabble, Candy Land, The Game of Life and, well, that’s it. Apparently the thousands of other board games haven’t made the grade yet. Not even games like Clue.
That’s why I’m glad to see them expanding their horizons just a wee bit and adding the venerable Dungeons and Dragons, really the first multiplayer role playing game. If you watched the splendid recent Netflix series Stranger Things, you know about D&D, but fortunately the game isn’t stuck in the world of 1974 when it was first introduced!
In fact, the world of Dungeons and Dragons just changed recently with the introduction of the fifth edition of the D&D books and related. Here’s what a page out of the D&D Player’s Handbook looks like nowadays:
How do I know this? Well, true confession: I missed out on D&D as a child but now play with friends on a roughly once/month basis. Think of it as highly entertaining shared storytelling with a bunch of smart people and you’ve just described much of the D&D experience. We don’t dress up, we don’t talk with funny accents, we just sit around and eat, drink, joke, socialize, roll dice occasionally and try our best to survive the adventure.
Oh, and I like swings too. And Slinkies.
How about you? What’s on your short list for best toys ever?