Rochester, N.Y. -They are relatively inexpensive, easy to come by, and have been delighting young and old alike for generations. Magical, iridescent bubbles; monotone, miniature little green army men; and the colorful, puzzling Rubik's Cube became the latest inductees to
The Strong's National Toy Hall of Fame. The honorees were selected from a field of 12 finalists that also included: American Girl dolls, Fisher-Price Little People, Hess Toy Trucks, My Little Pony, Operation Skill Game, paper airplanes, pots and pans, Slip‘N Slide, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
About bubbles: the origin of soap bubbles is anything but
transparent. People in Europe manufactured high quality soaps by the 16th century, but no documentation exists of the first use of soap bubbles for fun. However, during the 17th century, the earliest paintings of children playing
with bubbles appeared in the region of Flanders (now part of modern-day Belgium). In the 19th century, London soap maker A. & F. Pears created an advertising campaign featuring a painting of a child playing with bubbles. Bubbles later inspired the well-known song "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" in 1919, which became a hit in New York City's Tin Pan Alley. In 1984, architect David Stein created the first giant bubble maker-Bubble Thing (a small, fabric loop producing bubbles more than 50-feet long). Today, retailers sell more than 200 million bottles of this inexpensive and clean toy annually.
About little green army men: made of molded plastic and standing two to four inches tall, little green army men
marched onto the toy scene in 1938. They evolved from the metal and lead toy soldiers of previous centuries, but these new combatants represented soldiers in the mid-20th century United States military (mostly army infantry). Later,
manufacturers produced French, German, Japanese, and other variants to battle across backyards and make-believe nations. Little green army men suffered a decline in popularity during the Vietnam War, but their sales increased in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1995, they hit the big screen in Pixar's Toy Story-and they appeared in two more Toy Story films. Today, multiple manufacturers produce millions of little green army men annually, and they continue to prompt
narratives of heroism and daring in children's imaginations.
About Rubik's Cube: Hungarian lecturer and architect Erno Rubik invented the Rubik's Cube in the early 1970s and patented his puzzling creation. Ideal Toy Corporation brought the cube to the United States, where it intrigued mathematicians and children alike. Between 1980 and 1982, Ideal sold more than 100 million Rubik's Cubes. Books written about how to solve the cube once held first, second, and third place on the New York Times bestseller list of paperbacks. Rubik's Cube even inspired songs and its own Saturday morning television program. By some estimates, more than 500 million people have tried to unscramble one of the cubes. The colorful cubes can be arranged 43 quintillion (a number with six commas) ways and have inspired organized competitions in more than 50 countries. The current speed champ, Mats Valk of The Netherlands, solved the cube in 5.55 seconds. There are also official
trials for solving it blindfolded, one-handed, underwater with one breath, and with one's feet.
About the National Toy Hall of Fame
To date, the following 56 toys have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame: alphabet blocks, Atari 2600 Game System, baby doll, ball, Barbie, bicycle, Big Wheel, blanket, bubbles, Candy Land, cardboard box, checkers, chess, Crayola Crayons, dollhouse, dominoes, Duncan Yo-Yo, Easy-Bake Oven, Erector Set, Etch A Sketch, Frisbee, The Game of Life, G. I. Joe, Hot Wheels, hula hoop, jack-in-the-box, jacks, jigsaw puzzle, jump rope, kite, LEGO, Lincoln Logs,
Lionel Trains, little green army men, marbles, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Nintendo Game Boy, Play-Doh, playing cards, Radio Flyer Wagon, Raggedy Ann and Andy, rocking horse, roller skates, rubber duck, Rubik's Cube, Scrabble, Silly
Putty, skateboard, Slinky, Star Wars action figures, stick, teddy bear, Tinkertoy, Tonka Trucks, and View-Master.
Anyone can nominate a toy for annual induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame. An internal museum advisory committee comprised of curators, and historians reviews the submitted nominations and determines which toys meet the criteria for selection. A national selection committee then reviews the list of toy finalists. Each national selection committee member votes for his or her top toy picks for induction. The votes are then tallied, with the toys receiving the most votes making the cut for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame. For more information about the hall, visit toyhalloffame.org.
Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Della Porta, 585-410-6325, email@example.com
Photo: Little Green Army Men pose (actors from Rochester City Ballet)