My Little Pony is up for a spot in the National Toy Hall of Fame for 2014, after missing out last year to the Rubber Duck and chess.
The My Little Pony empire is the only animal related toy among the 12 nominated for the two available spots – unless you count the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Toys.
The finalists were announced on Monday, and the winners will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at The Strong museum in Rochester, New York, on November 6. Toys can be nominated by anyone.
My Little Pony was introduced in the 1980s and reintroduced in 2003. The My Little Pony line of mini horses encourages children in traditional forms of doll play — fantasy, storytelling, hair grooming, and collecting. There are more than 1000 varieties in the pastel ponies, all with long tails and manes made to be brushed. The toys peaked in popularity between 1982 and 1993 — even outselling Barbie for several years.
The toys found a new audience in recent years: a group of adult male fans who have become known as “bronies” – a combination of brothers and ponies.
My Little Pony has also embraced change, with films, computer games, and phone apps all adding to the brand in recent years.
A museum committee of curators, educators and historians choose the finalists based on their longevity, innovation, and other attributes.
Inductees have to be widely recognized, proven to be more than a passing fad and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play.
Other toys or games already in the Hall of Fame include marbles, the bicycle, Mr Potato Head, Silly Putty, the Easy-Bake Oven, and Nintendo’s Game Boy.
The other finalists
American Girl Dolls
Created in 1986 by educator and newscaster Pleasant Rowland, the 18-inch American Girl dolls (and their accompanying books) explore America’s social and cultural history. Each doll comes with a unique narrative that fits her time period, such as Molly McIntire, who is waiting for her father to return home from World War II. In 1995 the Pleasant Company also released the My American Girl line of dolls (originally under the name American Girl Dolls of Today) and designed them to look like their owners.
The origin of soap bubbles is anything but transparent. We know that 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). A Chicago company called Chemtoy began selling bubble solution in the 1940s and bubbles have been popular with children ever since.
Fisher-Price Little People
Fisher-Price first offered its wooden Little People in the 1959 Safety School Bus. Made of brightly painted wood and fashioned for little hands, the figures help small children imagine big adventures at the Little People school, airport, service station, amusement park, zoo, and farm. During the 1990s, Fisher-Price added arms and legs to the figures.
Hess Toy Trucks
Hess toy trucks drove onto the scene in 1964 and were among the first toys to boast working lights and realistic sounds. In the years since, the holiday favorite has included or come with a range of vehicles — such as a seafaring oil tanker, fire truck, training van, patrol car, race car, construction vehicle, transport truck with space shuttle, and helicopter. Each year, an iconic commercial jingle reminds holiday shoppers that, “The Hess truck is back, and it’s better than ever!”
Little Green Army Men
Ever since the 1930s, little green army men have occupied territories, lands, and entire make-believe nations. Molded with incredible detail and manufactured by the millions, the plastic toy soldiers have fuel kids’ imaginations, prompt their narratives, and encourage their stories of daring and heroism.
Operation Skill Game
An industrial design student created the Operation Skill Game as a class project in 1962 and — much to his delight — it went on to be one of the most successful dexterity games of all times. The game asks players to remove small, plastic body parts from the tight recesses of Cavity Sam, the “patient” on the operating table. A nerve-wracking buzzer jolts those without steady hands.
No one knows the exact origin of the paper airplane, but Leonardo DaVinci wrote about making flying machines out of parchment as early as the 15th century. Through the years, the simplicity and play value of the paper airplane has made it an inexpensive playtime fixture. With a simple sheet of paper and some creativity, anyone can produce a toy that takes off with infinite aeronautical possibilities.
Pots and Pans
Pots and pans can do more than boil and sauté. With some imagination, these common household products become an armored helmet, a general’s hat, or a set of drums. They allow young children to develop fine motor skills, explore concepts of size and sorting, and compose musical masterpieces.
Invented in the early 1970s by a Hungarian lecturer, the three-dimensional Rubik’s Cube satisfies a kid’s sense of intrigue and inspires serious mathematicians. The colorful cubes can be arranged 43 quintillion (a number with six commas) ways and have inspired organized competitions across the globe. In 2014, a Canadian competitor set a world record by completing a Rubik’s Cube in 12.56 seconds.
A hot summer day, a vinyl-like sheet, and a garden hose inspired the creation of the Slip‘N Slide in 1960. Wham-O, the toy company behind the Frisbee and Hula Hoop, released a formal Slip‘N Slide, refashioned out of yellow plastic, the next year. Since then, children across the world have belly-flopped onto more than nine million of these slick water toys.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Toys
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book was originally self-published by two struggling artists to satirize comic book heroes and action figures in the early 1980s. However, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles found themselves transformed into comic book and play icons, transmedia pioneers, and an enduring popular cultural sensation known as “Turtlemania”—generating toys, television shows, movies, video games, and merchandise for more than 30 years.