The National Toy Hall of Fame just cleared out three new spots for its 2022 class of inductees. Toys that made this year's list include the ancient top, the Masters of the Universe toy line, and one of the all-time craft classics in Lite-Brite.
Each year thousands of people nominate their favorite toys from over the years for consideration into the hall. A committee at the National Toy Hall of Fame, which is located at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, relies on the National Selection Advisory Committee made up of 22 experts in various fields, including child development, history, and toy industry leaders, who vote on which toys they believe were the most impactful. The public also gets a collective vote.
"This year we had nominations for 325 different toys so there are lots of options worth considering. Internally we look at those 325 and think about [whether] they meet our three big qualifications," Christopher Bensch, chief curator and spokesperson for the National Toy Hall of Fame, told Cheddar News. "[Then] we come up with a list of 12 that we feel for a particular year best represent those qualities."
The three key qualifiers for prospective inductees are longevity, recognition, and play value.
Bensch said there was excitement around this year's 12 finalists, particularly, for the top, a toy that dates back thousands of years..
"Others were quite competitive. The fans of things like Masters of the Universe and Breyer Horses were really advocating for their favorite toy, and it was a year that there was great variety of items in our 12 finalists," he said.
When it comes to recognition, Bensch said toys have to be easily identifiable and relatable, like Monopoly, Barbie, or a Radio Flyer wagon. As far as play value goes, he said potential inductees have to encourage learning, creativity, and discovery. "These aren't the ones that you put on that fake smile when your grandmother gives it to you, and you shove under the bed when she turns her back," he added.
All three of the toys in this year's inductees have been able to transcend decades and remain relevant playthings for children. The Lite-Brite was first introduced in 1967, while the Masters of the Universe, featuring figures like He-Man and Skeletor, was released in 1982.
"It needs to have been on the market at least 20 years so kids and their parents could both have grown up playing with the same toy. These are toys that have had staying power, not this year's flavor of the month," Bensch told Cheddar News.