ROCHESTER, NY (AP) – American Girls dolls and the strategy board game Risk were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame Thursday in recognition of their impact on the toy industry. Sand, which the group called perhaps the most versatile and oldest toy in the world, was also inaugurated.
All three were honored during a ceremony in the hall after defeating a panel of experts who voted for them from a group of 12 finalists.
Four other competitive games also participated this year: Battleship, Settlers of Katana, Mahjong and Billiards, as well as Cabbage Patch Kids, Masters of the Universe, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Toy Fire Truck, and Pinata.
Anyone can nominate a toy, but in order to be considered, it must withstand the tests of time and memory, change the game or design of the toy, and foster learning, creativity or discovery.
Created in 1986 by educator Pleasant Rowland, American Girl dolls are recognized for their research into the country’s social and cultural history. 18-inch historical dolls and accompanying books provide a glimpse into the era. For example, Molly McIntyre is waiting for her father to return home from World War II.
Launched in 1995, the modern line of Truly Me dolls, with its variety of skin, hair and gender tones, allowed children to choose a doll that resembles them.
Rowland, 80, called the inclusion of the American Girl doll “an incredible honor.”
“I am so proud of the American Girl family – past and present – that have been the loyal custodians of the brand for over three decades, helping to win the hearts of an entire generation of girls,” she said in an email statement.
“Rowland’s formula of combining puppet play with history lessons worked, in her words, like a chocolate cake with vitamins,” said curator Michelle Parnett-Dwyer. “In an era when some education experts argued that there was little history in school curriculum, this toy could very well fill the void.”
Risk, based on the French game Le Conquete du Monde, was first published in the US in 1959 and continues to influence other board games, Hall officials said. It invites players to control armies and conquer the world on the playing field, which is a map of the continents.
“Risk has become one of the most popular board games of all time, inspiring a new corps of passionate gamers and influencing other games that started the hobby of wargaming – and as a result, European games like The Settlers of Catan, which many people enjoy today.” , curator Nicholas Ricketts said.
According to the Hall of Fame, located at The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY, Sand has been honored for “the ability to tactically, physically, collaborate, creatively and independently play free-play.”
“Children see sand as a creative material that can be poured, scooped up, sifted, raked and measured,” the message says. “Wet sand is even better because children can design, shape and sculpt.”
“While some toys can only be found online or in certain stores, sand has a global distribution that most toy manufacturers will envy,” said chief curator Christopher Bensch. “It has been a play machine since prehistoric times, and anyone who has spent a day at the beach can understand the charm of this toy.”
The 2021 class joins 74 previous laureates.