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Sand inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame, mahjong fails to make the cut

The US’ National Toy Hall Of Fame honoured the most universal toy in the world along with the board game Risk and American Girl dolls. Better luck next time, Cabbage Patch Kids and Masters of the Universe…

Sand inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame, mahjong fails to make the cut

From left: Sand, the American Girl doll, and the game of Risk were the three toys inducted into the 2021 National Toy Hall of Fame in New York. (Photo: Strong National Museum of Play/Victoria Gray via AP)

American Girl dolls and the strategy board game Risk were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday (Nov 4) in recognition of their influence on the toy industry.

Sand, which the group called perhaps the most universal and oldest toy in the world, was also inducted.

All three were honoured during a ceremony at the hall after winning over a panel of experts who voted for them from a group of 12 finalists.

Also in the running this year were four other competitive games: Battleship, The Settlers of Catan, mahjong and billiards, as well as Cabbage Patch Kids, Masters of the Universe, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, the toy fire engine and the pinata.

Anyone can nominate a toy but to be considered, they must have withstood tests of time and memory, changed play or toy design and fostered learning, creativity or discovery.

Sand was honoured for its "opportunities for tactical, physical, cooperative, creative, and independent free play," according to the hall of fame, which is housed inside The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

"Children recognise sand as a creative material suitable for pouring, scooping, sieving, raking, and measuring," it said. "Wet sand is even better, ready for kids to construct, shape, and sculpt."

"Although some playthings can only be found online or in certain stores, sand has a global reach that most toy manufacturers would envy," chief curator Chirstopher Bensch said. "It's been a vehicle for play since prehistory, and anyone who has spent the day at the beach can understand the allure of this toy."

Risk, based on the French game Le Conquete du Monde, was first published in the United States in 1959 and continues to influence other board games, hall officials said. It challenges players to control armies and conquer the world on a game board that is a map of continents.

"Risk became one of the most popular board games of all time, inspiring a new corps of passionate gamers, and influencing other games which began the wargaming hobby – and by extension the Euro-games like The Settlers of Catan that many enjoy today," curator Nicolas Ricketts said.

American Girl dolls, the 1986 creation of educator Pleasant Rowland, were recognised for their exploration of the country's social and cultural history. The 18-inch historical dolls and accompanying books each offer insights into an era. For example, Molly McIntire is waiting for her father to return home from World War II.

The Truly Me contemporary doll line, with its diversity of skin tones, hair and gender, followed in 1995, letting children choose a doll that looks like them.

Rowland, 80, called the American Girl doll's inclusion "an incredible honour."

"I'm so proud of the American Girl family – past and present – who have been faithful stewards of this brand for more than three decades, helping to capture the hearts of an entire generation of girls," she said in an emailed statement.

"Rowland's formula for combining doll play with history lessons worked, in her words, like 'chocolate cake with vitamins,'" curator Michelle Parnett-Dwyer said. "In an era when some education experts claimed that school curriculums paid little attention to history, this toy may well have filled a void."

The class of 2021 joins 74 previous honourees.

Source: AP/mm

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