As I get older, I think more and more about my childhood. And I had a lot of great memories when I saw the list of recent toys nominated for the National Toy Hall of Fame.
I was not familiar with the hall until I saw the listing. It’s fun. And when I looked at the toys that were already presented, I felt like I was in elementary school again.
Looking at the hall of fame was like digging through my bedroom closet in the late 1970s and early 1980s: Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels; Tonka trucks; GI Joe and Star Wars action figures; Lego; Lincoln Logie; Dungeons & Dragons; Atari; Big circle; and the Rubik’s Cube.
The Star Wars and Millennium Falcon figures that my brother and I have long since lost. I believe they were given to another family with young children after we got too old for them. They aren’t worth much today, but if I still had them, I think these memories would be too valuable to sell.
I’ve never even come close to solving a Rubik’s Cube. I gave up and peeled off the colored stickers and rearranged them to make it look like I had won. No one was deceived.
My parent’s house still has a box of Matchbox and Hot Wheels and a big box of Legos. I guess they were tucked away when my brother and I got old from them, waiting for the grandkids.
My sons used them, although I think I had more fun than they did. My boys are also long past that age, so my toys have been put away again, perhaps waiting for the next generation.
But the toy in the hall of fame that I enjoyed reminiscing about the most was the cardboard box.
I was shocked to see this. Some people may not consider the box a toy. Credit the hall of fame for recognizing toys as things to play with, not just things to buy. A stick, sand and paper airplane were also featured.
A film crew in my area was excited about cardboard boxes in an unconventional way.
The house I grew up in had a big, steep hill in the back yard. Every time someone on our street bought a new appliance, my friends and I would pick a box out of the trash. We dragged him to the top of the mountain, piled him inside and rolled down.
The box only lasted a few trips before it was torn apart. Every now and then we emerged with a few scratches ourselves from toppling over each other. But it was a lot of fun. I haven’t thought about it in a long time.
Now, back to the list of nominees for this year’s Toy Hall of Fame. What’s cool is that the public can vote.
Nominees: Bingo, Breyer Horses, Catan, Lite-Brite, Nerf Toys, Masters of the Universe, piñata, Phase 10, Pound Puppies, Rack-O, Spirograph and more.
I was addicted to Rack-O, a card game where you draw cards and arrange them in numerical order in your rack before your opponents do. I didn’t have a game at home. It was in the toy chest at my grandmother’s house, and my usual opponent was Aunt Marion. We spent hours together with this game.
However, Rack-O didn’t get my Hall of Fame vote. Nerf did.
As a kid, I often held a ball in my hands, and many times it was a Nerf. The spongy material made it easier to cast and catch. And we’re more likely to get away with breaking the no-ball-in-the-house rule when we use Nerf, since it tends to do less damage if — more likely if — it gets away from us.
My bedroom had a Nerf basketball hoop on the back of the door. My friends and I were playing alone, trying to dunk over each other. I can still hear the sound the plastic rim made as it snapped back into place after we slammed it into the wooden door.
There were also a lot of Nerf footballs in my neighborhood. They were lighter and could be thrown farther than rubber or leather pigskins and were less likely to jam fingers. However, it was difficult to play with them in the rain because they got waterlogged. I had to squeeze them out.
Soccer balls didn’t always last long. They were used so much that they deteriorated quite quickly. And when one of the neighborhood dogs grabbed one, it was a story torn to pieces in seconds.
The three toys from the 12 nominees receiving the most votes will be inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, located at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, on November 10.
Voting is conducted by a committee of 23 people, one of whom is the public.
That’s where I fumbled.
If you want to vote, you must do so today, September 21. I had intended to write this column earlier to encourage voting, and I didn’t realize that the public voting window was so short, just one week, from September 14th to September 21st. My apologies for that.
You can cast your vote at the address museumofplay.org/players-choice-ballot/.
I will be sure to announce the winners in November.
Morning Call columnist Paul Muschick can be reached at 610-820-6582 or at firstname.lastname@example.org