Ranked: Class of 2016 finalists for Toy Hall of Fame


(MEDIA GENERAL) – To most kids, toys are a key part of childhood. To many adults, arguing with strangers online is a key part of adulthood.

So let’s combine the two and discuss the latest news to come from the National Toy Hall of Fame!

The National Toy Hall of Fame announced its class of 2016 finalists on Tuesday.

In this year’s astute class of finalists: Fisher-Price Little People, Care Bears, Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots, Transformers, Nerf, Clue (the board game), Uno, Pinball, the swing, Dungeons & Dragons, coloring books and bubble wrap.

My first reaction to this list is the same as yours. “What! Who thinks that belongs in the Toy Hall of Fame?”

According to The Strong Museum — which houses the Hall of Fame — historians, educators and other toy experts will decide from the field of 12 which, whether any or all, will be awarded the top honor.

“What do experts and historians know that I don’t when it comes to toys?” Exactly, my brash, bombastic id!

I used to be a kid! I used to play with toys! That pretty much makes me an expert. So here is MY ranking of the class of 2016 finalists. Feel free to get “mad online” if you want, fellow adults.

12. Bubble Wrap

Congrats, packing supplies, you fooled someone else into thinking you are a toy. Don’t get me wrong, as far as packing supplies go, you are among the most fun. Among toys? Don’t waste my time.

11. Fisher-Price Little People

Iconic toy? Sure. Every kid had them when they were little because they were harmless and easy to clean. And every household had them because parents would bequeath their trove of Little People to their latest set of friends who had a baby.

My kids had more fun chewing on Little People than playing with them.

T-9. Care Bears and Transformers

A little conflicted here because I don’t understand the need to celebrate a brand. Care Bears and Transformers reached the top of the preteen cultural zeitgeist, and I assume that’s what they are targeting here. Hasbro probably sold eleventy bazillion action figures and I think they still are making uninspiring Michael Bay movies, but that doesn’t make it any more impactful than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or My Little Pony or any other made-for-toy-shelves TV show out there.

8. Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots

I can’t think of another toy that consistently instigates fistfights between siblings. Life imitates art, my friends.

7. Clue

Clue is an iconic board game, and about 30 percent of the time, it actually was fun. Not a great fun/games played ratio, but better than Monopoly and Sorry! Like all board games, it belongs firmly in the middle of the list.

6. Uno

An underrated card game to keep around the den for a rainy day. The rules are easy to follow and it provides the unique, refreshing joy of dropping a “Draw 4” on your little brother. I’m a relentless Uno player. I want my little brother’s hand of cards to be as thick as my wallet.

5. Dungeons & Dragons

I’ve never come close to playing D&D, but its cult following pushes it at least this far up the list. For many of us, it’s No. 12. For others, it’s a religion. You have to respect that.

4. Coloring books

I have two young kids. We are entering the coloring book phase, and it’s one, frankly, that I missed. Coloring is simple, mindless fun. The “adult coloring” trend is definitely onto something. I can relax AND spend time with my kids? Is that allowed?

3. The Swing

I’m not sure this qualifies as a toy, but it certainly qualifies as a Hall of Famer when it comes to supplying fun for kids. Also, let’s give some credit where it is due — drawings of swings were found in ancient cave drawings in Europe. The swing has been providing joy (and twisted ankles) for people for centuries!

2. Pinball

When’s the last time you played pinball? It’s still fun! I know its heyday is long gone, but it was its own genre of game that allowed for tons of creativity by the designers. Bonus sensors and extra bumpers, special themes, high scores: They all made each pinball table unique. I’m just now realizing I am very pro-pinball.

1. Nerf

The minute I saw this list, I knew Nerf would be No. 1.

Nerf played a key role in the lives of most kids of the ’90s. Every 10-year-old unknowingly had this conversation in their heads: “We could play pickle with a real baseball and risk getting plunked in the back… (Light bulb clicks on) Or, we could use a nerf ball and then we can chuck it at each other as hard as we want!”

Also, have you seen the toy aisle lately? Go to the superstore now, there’s like an entire armory dedicated to different styles of Nerf guns.

One of my college roommates got a pair of Nerf dart guns for Christmas and an honest-to-god Nerf skeet disc launcher. Let’s be honest, Nerf guns always will be fun. There’s no age limit on those bad boys, and they definitely deserve a Hall of Fame nod.

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