Will I Make It into the Toy Hall of Fame? You May Rely On It.

That was the answer for three toys this year – the Magic 8 Ball, the popular card game Uno, and pinball. The honorees were chosen from a field of 12 finalists that also included American Girl Dolls, chalk, Chutes and Ladders, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Masters of the Universe, sled, tic-tac-toe, Tickle Me Elmo, and Tudor Electric Football.

I like the three choices; if I could have picked two more I would have added sled and tic-tac-toe and would have ranked all five of the toys/games equally.

Here is a brief description of each of the toys from the Museum of Play website:

Introduced in 1946, the Magic 8 Ball allows users to flirt harmlessly with fortune-telling. Users pose questions, shake the ball, and then read one of 20 answers that float to the surface at the bottom of the ball—ranging from “ask again later” and “signs point to yes,” to simply, “no.” The toy became an icon of popular culture, making its first television appearance on the Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s, and showing up later on hit series such as Friends and The Simpsons. Says Curator Michelle Parnett-Dwyer, “Millions of people have purchased a Magic 8 Ball in the last seven decades, and its wide appeal and quirky nature have helped it maintain popularity. According to some surveys, it’s one of the top 20 most popular toys of the 20th-century. It had been named a finalist seven times.

Here is the list of its 20 answers:

  • It is certain.
  • It is decidedly so.
  • Without a doubt.
  • Yes – definitely.
  • You may rely on it.
  • As I see it, yes.
  • Most likely.
  • Outlook good.
  • Yes.
  • Signs point to yes.
  • Reply hazy, try again.
  • Ask again later.
  • Better not tell you now.
  • Cannot predict now.
  • Concentrate and ask again.
  • Don’t count on it.
  • My reply is no.
  • My sources say no.
  • Outlook not so good.
  • Very doubtful.

I remember spending hours with my Magic 8 Ball, asking it all sorts of questions. And if I didn’t like the answer I got, I would just keep asking until I did get the answer I wanted. As I vaguely recall, most of the questions were along the lines of, Does Mary like me? Does Linda like me? Does Rosemary like me? Does Kathy like me? You get the idea…

An Ohio barbershop owner named Merle Robbins dreamed up Uno in 1971 while playing cards with his family. The new game—a shedding game like crazy eights, where players seek to empty their hand—proved to be simple enough for young children and varied enough for adults to enjoy. Robbins and his family produced 5,000 decks of Uno and pitched it across the United States before a manufacturer bought the rights to it. The game, now owned by Mattel, has inspired countless versions, including Elvis, Disney, and Hello Kitty varieties.

Over the past 20 years, the Borden family has played countless rounds of UNO at home and on vacations, and we still play it occasionally (although our current favorite card game is Five Crowns). There’s nothing like putting down a Wild Draw 4 card when the next player is down to his or her final card.

Pinball traces its roots to the 18th-century French table game called bagatelle. Modern, coin-operated pinball machines originated in 1931, and manufacturers added new features over the next two decades. Flippers transitioned the game from one of chance (and maligned by some as a form of gambling) to a game of skill. Over the last century, pinball has incorporated top brands (such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Game of Thrones) and become common in bars, amusement parks, arcades, restaurants, family fun centers, and other public places.

I’ve always enjoyed playing pinball, but I was not very good. I was always impressed when watching highly skilled players keep one ball alive forever, and somehow have the ability to send the ball wherever he or she wanted. And while everyone has heard of the song “The Pinball Wizard”, my favorite song that mentions pinball is 4th of July, Asbury Park (video at end of post) by Bruce Springsteen, where it is actually mentioned twice:

  • As the wizards play down on Pinball Way on the boardwalk way past dark
  • And me I just got tired of hangin’ in them dusty arcades bangin’ them pleasure machines

Congratulations to the newest members of the National Toy Hall of Fame and thank you to the many hours of fun and relaxation you have provided over the years.

And if you are curious, here is a complete list of all 63 members, along with the year of induction) of the Toy Hall of Fame. Those toys in bold are some of my personal favorites, and those in italics represent a member of the initial class of 17 inductees in 1998-99. I love that ball and stick are two of the items in the list, as well as a cardboard box:

  • Alphabet Blocks (2003)
  • Atari 2600 Game System (2007)
  • Baby Doll (2008)
  • Ball (2009)
  • Barbie (1998)
  • Bicycle (2000)
  • Big Wheel (2009)
  • Blanket (2011)
  • Bubbles (2014)
  • Candy Land (2005)
  • Cardboard Box (2005)
  • Checkers (2003)
  • Chess (2013)
  • Clue (2017)
  • Crayola Crayons (1998)
  • Dollhouse (2011)
  • Dominoes (2012)
  • Duncan Yo-Yo (1999)
  • Dungeons & Dragons (2016)
  • Easy-Bake Oven (2006)
  • Erector Set (1998)
  • Etch A Sketch (1998)
  • Fisher-Price Little People (2016)
  • Frisbee (1998)
  • G.I. Joe (2004)
  • The Game of Life (2010)
  • Hot Wheels (2011) (I was more of a Matchbox guy)
  • Hula Hoop (1999)
  • Jack-in-the-Box (2005)
  • Jacks (2000)
  • Jigsaw Puzzle (2002)
  • Jump Rope (2000)
  • Kite (2007)
  • LEGO (1998)
  • Lincoln Logs (1999)
  • Lionel Trains (2006)
  • Little Green Army Men (2014)
  • Magic 8 Ball (2018)
  • Marbles (1998)
  • Monopoly (1998)
  • Mr. Potato Head (2000)
  • Nintendo Game Boy (2009)
  • Paper Airplane (2017)
  • Pinball (2018)
  • Play-Doh (1998)
  • Playing Cards (2010)
  • Puppet (2015)
  • Radio Flyer Wagon (1999)
  • Raggedy Ann and Andy (2002)
  • Rocking Horse (2004)
  • Roller Skates (1999)
  • Rubber Duck (2013)
  • Rubik’s Cube (2014)
  • Scrabble (2004)
  • Silly Putty (2001)
  • Skateboard (2008)
  • Slinky (2000)
  • Star Wars Action Figures (2012)
  • Stick (2008)
  • Super Soaker (2015)
  • Swing (2016)
  • Teddy Bear (1998)
  • Tinkertoy (1998)
  • Tonka Trucks (2001)
  • Twister (2015)
  • Uno (2018)
  • View-Master (1999
  • Wiffle Ball (2017)


*photo courtesy of National Toy Hall of Fame