Every toy in the National Toy Hall of Fame

Written by:
June 15, 2020
Glen Edwards YYC // Shutterstock

Every toy in the National Toy Hall of Fame

For time immemorial, every kid in history has had a favorite toy—even if that toy was nothing more than a stick found on the ground. Some toys are meant for individuals, some are meant to be shared in groups. Some encourage competition, others stress socialization, creativity, collaboration, or imagination. Others are simply meant to pass the time on rainy days.

Toys have been a part of recorded history since history has been recorded—literally. There’s evidence of kids playing with toys dating back thousands of years to ancient Egypt and China. The digital age has spawned an entirely new era of entertainment and play for kids of all ages, but some of the greatest toys in history are products of the analog era.

For decades, toys were marketed by gender. Girls played with dolls, boys played with trucks. Over the generations, however, the lines have been blurred and children of all stripes hand their favorite toys off to each other, to siblings of any gender, and to playmates who share in the fun.

Some toys, like Tonka Trucks, have evolved dramatically over the years and kept up with the times. Others, like the rocking horse, remain basically the same as they’ve been for centuries. No matter their lineage, history, or source, the very best of them all are enshrined for the ages in the National Toy Hall of Fame, which is maintained by the National Museum of Play.

Stacker sorted every toy in the National Toy Hall of Fame by the year they were inducted based on 2019 data released in 2020. Some are name-brand toys with trademarks, others are generic. Others, like paper planes and cardboard boxes, aren’t toys at all until imaginative children turn them into one.

Here’s a nostalgic look at the greatest toys of all time, some of which have been lost to history, while others are still on store shelves today.

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- Inducted: 1998

Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler made the one-dimensional paper dolls that dominated the girls’ toys market in the 1950s a stone-age relic when she created Barbie in 1959. Within a year, it was the best-selling fashion doll in history. The slim and curvaceous Barbie soon became a target of feminists who claimed her image set an impossibly high standard for girls and women. Over the decades, Barbie’s body evolved, as did her ethnicity, but the plastic little lady remains the greatest fashionista in the toy universe.

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PatrickRich // Flickr

Crayola Crayons

- Inducted: 1998

Crayola has been the gold standard—or Cornsilk standard if you’re a stickler for label names—of crayons since the Binney & Smith company changed child art forever in 1903. The barn paint company moved into the school supplies business when it created a line of colored sticks made of non-toxic wax—at a nickel a box, they didn’t last long on store shelves. New colors like Burnt Sienna and Macaroni and Cheese emerged over the years and dated ones like Indian Red and peach-colored Flesh disappeared as times and attitudes changed.

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Cullen328 // Wikimedia Commons

Erector Set

- Inducted: 1998

In 1911, America was going vertical as soaring skyscrapers were transforming skylines across the country, and it was all thanks to the invention of the steel skeleton construction frame. That year, a man named A.C. Gilbert developed the Erector Set, a new kind of toy marketed to boys who loved to build, just as Barbie was pitched to girls whose passions were assumed to be limited to purses and shoes. As it turns out, legions of both boys and girls used the engineering and construction toy set to build mini skyscrapers of their own until 1980, when the Erector Set went the way of cities made of wood.

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Etcha // Wikimedia Commons

Etch A Sketch

- Inducted: 1998

Incredible YouTube videos prove that it is technically possible to create intricate artistic masterpieces with an old-fashioned Etch A Sketch, but for most people, the results were a blur of squiggly horizontal and vertical gray lines. French electrical technician André Cassagnes didn’t get much of a response when he shopped around his L’Ecran Magique (Magic Screen) in 1959, but the Ohio Art Company recognized magic when it saw it, plunked down an investment, and the rest is drawing, shaking, and erasing history.

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Petey21 // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 1998

The Frisbee is so incredibly famous that people use its trademarked name to describe even the many off-brand imposters—when was the last time anyone asked a friend if they wanted to toss around a flying disc on the beach? It all started in the late 19th century when Yale students passed the time by playing catch with pie plates made by the Frisbie Baking Company in nearby Bridgeport, Connecticut. Attempting to capitalize on the 1947 UFO sightings in Roswell, New Mexico, two guys named Walter Morrison and Warren Franscioni created a plastic—and much more catchable—disc that appeared to float and hover as it traveled through the air.

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Alan Chia // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 1998

A Danish carpenter invented the first LEGO bricks in 1949 and a little less than a decade later, the LEGO company patented the tiny building blocks, which can be mixed and matched in an essentially infinite number of combinations. The famous interlocking tubes and studs on just two LEGO blocks can be joined in 24 different ways. With six LEGO blocks, that number jumps to an astonishing 102,981,500 possible combinations.

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- Inducted: 1998

Beautiful and basic, marbles were referenced by William Shakespeare and have a history dating back to ancient Egypt. The game of skill that involves one player knocking another’s marbles out of contention—that’s the genesis of the expression “lost their marbles”—is now an officially recognized sport complete with its own standardized rules and championship series.

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William Warby // Flickf


- Inducted: 1998

“Go directly to jail—do not pass GO, do not collect $200” is arguably the most famous quote in board game history—and Monopoly is arguably history’s most famous board game. Originally called the Landlord’s Game when it was first created in 1904, the game lampooned the greed and ambition that fueled the era’s gaping economic inequality. By the time of the Depression, Monopoly was the best-selling game in America and tabletop real estate magnates have been dreaming of a hotel on Boardwalk ever since.

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- Inducted: 1998

What began as a wallpaper cleaner went on to earn a place as history’s most famous and beloved modeling compound. Play-Doh emerged in its modern form in the mid-1950s and expanded in the ’80s to include a rainbow of new colors and related devices that could grind the malleable material into things like hair, spaghetti, and unmeltable ice cream. It’s estimated that 700 million pounds of the stuff have passed through the hands of children over the years.

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Polimerek // Wikimedia Commons

Teddy Bear

- Inducted: 1998

Nothing says childhood like a worn and raggedy one-eyed Teddy Bear with stuffing popping out of his stitches after years of serving as his owner’s security blanket. But Teddy Bears aren’t just for bedrooms—their super-sized brothers and sisters are still a staple of boardwalk and carnival game prizes to this day. History’s most popular plush toy, the venerable Teddy Bear borrows its name from Teddy Roosevelt, who supposedly refused to shoot a wounded bear that his hunting party had tied to a tree.

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Mike Mozart // Flickr


- Inducted: 1998

The creators of Tinkertoy capitalized on the building toy craze when they unveiled the sets of wooden wheels drilled with holes made to receive cylindrical sticks in 1919. Like the Erector set that came before and the Lincoln Logs that would soon follow, Tinkertoy has been lauded for nurturing creativity, problem-solving, and spatial intelligence among the legions of children who continue to play with them to this day.

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Evan-Amos // Wikimedia Commons

Duncan Yo-Yo

- Inducted: 1999

What goes down must come up—so goes the concept of the yo-yo, which was marketed to the masses by the Duncan company. Starting in 1928, kids everywhere learned how to rock the cradle, shoot the moon, walk the dog, and even go around the world. Donald F. Duncan not only popularized what is arguably history’s greatest pocket toy, but he also invented the Good Humor ice cream bar.

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Hula Hoop

- Inducted: 1999

In the 1950s, hips were swaying Hawaiian-style all across America as the Hula Hoop fad stormed gym classes, college campuses, playgrounds, and backyards across the country and the world. Wham-O sold 25 million of the hollow plastic circles in the first month they hit the market.

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Gunther Hammel // Shutterstock

Lincoln Logs

- Inducted: 1999

The Erector Set proved that construction toys could be hot commodities if marketed right, and in 1924, the creator of Lincoln Logs channeled nostalgia for the pioneer era and the biography of Abraham Lincoln to do just that. Still around today, low-tech Lincoln Logs rose to toy superstardom in the 1950s when wildly popular TV shows like “Pioneer Playhouse” and “Davy Crockett” ran Lincoln Log ads during commercial breaks.

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Arina P Habich // Shutterstock

Radio Flyer wagon

- Inducted: 1999

Children have been pulling their stuff, pulling each other, and been pulled by their parents in bright red Radio Flyer wagons for generations. The high sides that keep precious cargo on board didn’t arrive until the 1950s, but an ambitious and skilled Italian immigrant named Antonio Pasin began making early versions shortly after he arrived in America in 1914. Sturdy, reliable, and affordable, the Liberty Coaster Company, which was founded by Pasin in 1923, was selling 1,500 Radio Flyer wagons every day even during the height of the Great Depression.

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Mezzofortist // Wikimedia Commons

Roller skates

- Inducted: 1999

Roller Derby, roller disco, roller hockey, and the roller rink craze of the 20th century all trace their lineage to 1863, when a New York businessman created roller skates that could turn—a major upgrade to the fixed-wheel skates that came before. Roller skates evolved dramatically over the years from basic wheels that riders strapped onto their own regular shoes to modern high-performance in-line skates, but the thrill of upgrading human feet with a set of wheels has never changed.

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ThePassenger // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 1999

With high-definition, digital everything at the fingertips of modern children, it would be hard to explain to a child in 2020 the wonderment of peering into a View-Master for the first time. Starting at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, however, that wonderment was real for millions of children across the country. The magic of the View-Master was in the three-dimensional color slides that came to life just by looking inside, and with a selector switch built into the side of each unit, the next amazing image was just a click away.

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Andrew Dressel // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2000

Few moments in any person’s life will ever match the excitement they felt on that glorious day when they got their first bike as a kid. For many Americans, childhood was defined by putting baseball cards in the spokes, popping wheelies, riding on pegs or handlebars, or disappearing around the block, out of the sight of parents for the first time, among a pack of fellow two-wheeled rovers. Although competition bikes can cost thousands of dollars and many adults use them for exercise and commuting, the humble but glorious bicycle remains a hallmark of happy childhoods everywhere.

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Bovlb // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2000

One of the oldest, most basic, and widely played games in the world, jacks has a history dating back millennia. The idea is simple: bounce a ball and scoop up as many objects as possible before it lands. The concept has spawned enduring rainy-day competitions like Five Finger, Challenge, Jacks on the Rooftop, Pigs in the Pen, and Eggs in the Basket.

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Jump rope

- Inducted: 2000

Probably the simplest toy ever made, the humble jump rope has entertained children for centuries—not to mention the generations of boxers it’s helped get in fighting shape. The jump rope has offered hours of entertainment and unintentional exercise to children for centuries, from the basic skip to elaborately choreographed, multi-player, multi-rope sessions of Double-Dutch—Dutch immigrants, after all, started the trend in the 17th century.

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Julie Clopper // Shutterstock

Mr. Potato Head

- Inducted: 2000

One of the most iconic toys in history, Mr. Potato Head has been featured everywhere from the “Toy Story” movie franchise to Life magazine. Hasbro’s famous build-a-spud stands out as being the subject of the first television commercial in history that advertised a toy.

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Roger McLassus // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2000

A mechanical engineer invented the Slinky by accident in 1943 while trying to develop a spring that could protect sensitive shipping equipment. Although it is undeniably transfixing to watch a slinky pour into and out of itself as it methodically descends steps, it’s probably the only toy in history that encouraged children to play on staircases—and encourage them, it did. More than 250 million Slinkys have been sold worldwide.

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Steve Berry // Flickr

Silly Putty

- Inducted: 2001

One of only two inductees in the Hall of Fame class of 2001, Silly Putty joins the Slinky as a highly successful accident resulting from material experimentation during World War II. As a rubber shortage loomed, General Electric chemists began looking for a synthetic rubber substitute and the malleable, moldable “solid-liquid” that generations of kids have opened out of plastic eggs was born. Not only does it bounce 25 percent higher than rubber, but it can lift the images off of newspaper comics.

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Joost J. Bakker // Wikimedia Commons

Tonka Trucks

- Inducted: 2001

Named after Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka, which is near where its inventors lived, Tonka Trucks made mini construction workers out of millions of children. Durable and realistic, the genius of Tonka Trucks is that their makers kept up with the times as real-life construction vehicles evolved.

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Vassia Atanassova // Wikimedia Commons

Jigsaw puzzle

- Inducted: 2002

The ultimate rainy day time-killer, jigsaw puzzles are frustrating, addictive, and, upon completion, gleefully rewarding. They date back to Europe in the mid-1700s and came to America about a century later. From that time until now, however, a few truths have remained unchallenged—start with the corners, work around the border, and unless your patience is infinite, choose a puzzle with contrasting colors and patterns.

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Raggedy Ann

- Inducted: 2002

The greatest ragdoll in ragdoll history, Raggedy Ann is instantly recognizable by her red hair, jack-o-lantern triangle nose, and wide, warm eyes. It all started with an illustrator and cartoonist who wrote a children’s book based on his daughter’s homemade ragdoll in 1918, and the books and dolls based on Raggedy Ann are still fan favorites today. Inducted in 2002, Ann would have to wait for five years for her soulmate to join her in the Toy Hall of Fame.

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Alex1ruff // Wikimedia Commons

Alphabet blocks

- Inducted: 2003

Since the end of the 17th century, alphabet blocks have existed at the intersection of play and child development. More than 300 years later, it’s hard to imagine a preschool, pediatrician’s office, nursery, or daycare center in America that doesn’t have a stash of good, old-fashioned alphabet blocks.

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Black Market // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2003

An easy-to-learn junior varsity version of chess, checkers taught generations of children how to strategize, calculate, and socialize. The instantly recognizable checker-pattern board and red and black circular pieces—king me!—have such staying power that checkers remains one of the few old-school one-on-one board games that survived the arrival of video games, computers, and smartphones.

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G. I. Joe

G.I. Joe

- Inducted: 2004

In the realm of good vs. evil, few showdowns have been more epic than G.I. Joe vs. Cobra Command. Kids in the 1960s and ’70s played with a much bigger action-figure that stood nearly a foot tall, while children of the ’80s went into battle with miniaturized, yet equally maneuverable warriors and even got a classic cartoon out of the deal. More recently, all of society was forced to endure a Channing Tatum film franchise that whiffed on an attempt to cash in on Hasbro nostalgia.

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Black Market // Wikimedia Commons

Rocking horse

- Inducted: 2004

A 2.0 version of the broomstick and cloth-head hobby horse, the classic rocking horse has a history dating back to at least the 1500s. By applying a cradle-shaped platform to the feet of a wooden horse sturdy enough for a kid to sit on, rocking horses continue to deliver a calming and meditative motion to wound-up children to this day.

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thebarrowboy // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2004

Hasbro sells 2 million Scrabble board games every year in the United States alone, and many more overseas. That’s because there’s no shortage of amateur wordsmiths who love showing off their vocabularies and, when those vocabularies fail them, trying to sneak in words that aren’t actual words—especially if it lands them on a triple word score.

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Micah Sittig // Flickr

Candy Land

- Inducted: 2005

It’s likely that every kid who has ever played Candy Land has imagined a world where places like Gum Drop Land, Peppermint Stick Forest, and Molasses Swamp were real. To this day, many people remember Candy Land as the first board game they ever played, and although it’s a game of chance and not a game of skill, parents everywhere are still inclined to let their kids win every time.

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ArnoldReinhold // Wikimedia Commons

Cardboard box

- Inducted: 2005

Strong, lightweight, and readily available, kids have been repurposing cardboard boxes as playthings for as long as grown-ups have been shipping and receiving things in them. From cars and forts to dollhouses and dioramas, the options are virtually endless for kids with a cardboard box and a good imagination—and maybe a little duct tape.

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Public domain // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2005

As the crank turns and the music plays, the anxiety builds and builds and builds until finally, the inevitable pop! Although every kid who plays with a Jack-in-the-box knows the jolt is coming, the reveal never fails to startle, which is also why the age-old children’s toy is such a common sight in horror movies.

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Rdmsf // Wikimedia Commons

Easy-Bake Oven

- Inducted: 2006

The concept of kids pretending to cook and serve food is as old as the hills, but in the early 1960s, the play kitchen got an overhaul for the ages when the Easy-Bake Oven hit the stores. Thanks to two 100-watt light bulbs and a doughy goop that was sold separately, the device let kids actually bake confections that were technically edible right in their “toy” kitchens. More than 23 million have been sold since 1963.

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Zachary578 // Wikimedia Commons

Lionel Trains

- Inducted: 2006

The success of Lionel Trains as the undisputed king of model choo-choos is a result of both stellar marketing and stellar manufacturing. Lionel Trains are known for their intricate, lifelike detail, huge selection of train cars and accessories, and smooth rides on three-rail tracks. Early on, the company launched a bold marketing campaign that succeeded in associating the company with Christmas in the eyes of many Americans.

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joho345 // Wikimedia Commons

Atari 2600

- Inducted: 2007

Sure, the Magnavox Odyssey came first, but Atari is without question the most important name in the pioneering days of video games—and the 2600 is the console that launched the Atari brand. The 2600 turned Atari into a multi-billion business and laid the foundation of the modern gaming industry. Not only were the platform’s graphics revolutionary compared to Pong and the rest that came before, but external cartridges allowed kids to play different games on one console.

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Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2007

Kids were playing with kites in China 3,000 years ago, and the concept of flying wind-catching sails tethered to strings has never gone out of style since. From the basic geometric diamond with a tail to elaborate multi-winged super-kites, no toy has ever taken more children to greater heights.

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Lindsay E Thompson // Shutterstock

Raggedy Andy

- Inducted: 2007

Five years after his better half was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame, Raggedy Andy finally joined Raggedy Ann in the hallowed halls of eternal toy greatness. Johnny Gruelle, the same author and illustrator who created Raggedy Ann as both a doll and a book series in 1918, unveiled Raggedy Andy in 1920.

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Kleuske // Wikimedia Commons

The stick

- Inducted: 2008

Money for toys doesn’t grow on trees, but sometimes, the toy itself does. The humble stick is almost certainly the world’s oldest and longest-running toy, and upon picking one up off the ground, a kid can become a swordfighter, a pirate, a rifleman, a bandleader, a Jedi, an astronomer, a ninja, a pro baseball player, or anything else that the imagination can associate with a dead tree branch.

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Charlie Smith FDTB // Wikimedia Commons

The baby doll

- Inducted: 2008

Children love babies, but turning an infant over to a child who is only a few years older is generally a poor idea. The classic baby doll solved that problem, and kids have been changing them, rocking them, swaddling them, feeding them, bathing them, and pushing them in strollers since the mid-19th century. Starting in the early 1920s, baby dolls got more sophisticated, more lifelike, more technologically advanced, and eventually, more representative of America’s racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity.

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Cekay // Wikimedia Commons

The skateboard

- Inducted: 2008

Every skateboarder on Earth remembers his or her first ollie—the moment both their feet and their board left the ground in unison without the aid of their hands. Skateboarding is now a multibillion industry and soon-to-be Olympic event, but for countless kids across the country and world, their first skateboard was a toy on wheels that allowed them to dream of being Tony Hawk—or at least Marty McFly.

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Santeri Viinamäki // Wikimedia Commons

The ball

- Inducted: 2009

What do baseball, stickball, kickball, wallball, half-ball, handball, softball, basketball, football, tetherball, volleyball, bocce ball, racquetball, pinball, skeeball, dodgeball, foosball, paddleball, and wiffleball all have in common? You guessed it—that little round sphere that is the central object of every activity from bowling and billiards to polo and croquet. Second only to the stick in terms of longevity and simplicity, if balls suddenly disappeared from the Earth, so, too, would an uncountable number—maybe a majority—of games and activities enjoyed for millennia by young and old alike.

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Evan-Amos // Wikimedia Commons

Nintendo Game Boy

- Inducted: 2009

After Atari came Intellivision, then NES, then Sega, and the rest—but they only worked with an electrical outlet and a television. Sure, there were handheld gaming platforms before Nintendo Game Boy, but they were clunky and unreliable, their graphics were terrible, and they were usually dedicated to only a single game. Originally bundled with the highly addictive Tetris, Game Boy launched gaming on the go into the modern era.

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John Morgan // Wikimedia Commons

Big Wheel

- Inducted: 2009

The Big Wheel is now—and has been for more than half a century—the ultimate sidewalk tricycle. Originally developed by Louis Marx & Co., the Big Wheel’s designers came up with the idea by mixing up the parts on a traditional trike, turning it upside down, and placing the seat close to the sidewalk with the pedals extended to the front wheel. The result was a tricycle that kids raced instead of riding and once they hit top speed, slamming on the brakes still makes for epic skid outs.

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Brett Streutker // Flickr

The Game of Life

- Inducted: 2010

Milton Bradley, the founder of the famous company, first printed and sold The Checkered Game of Life in 1860. A century later in 1960, it just became Life, a revolutionary game with a 3-D board and a now-iconic spinner where the outcome was based on results of the players’ decisions. Depending on choices like college or business, players made their way either to Millionaire Acres or the Poor Farm.

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Asimzb // Wikimedia Commons

Playing cards

- Inducted: 2010

It’s likely that no other game ever made can be played in more ways and with more variations than playing cards. The familiar deck of 52 cards—not counting jokers—with its number cards, royal high cards, and four suits, can be utilized for everything from pre-school Go Fish to whiskey-fueled weekend Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments.

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Stefan-Xp // Wikimedia Commons

Hot Wheels

- Inducted: 2011

Model cars were nothing new when Mattel changed the toy game with the introduction of Hot Wheels in 1968. The original line contained 16 muscle cars, complete with striking details and suspensions that bounced back. Eventually, the iconic Hot Wheels track gave kids a place to hold races without scratching the floor, and today, eight Hot Wheels cars are sold every second and the lineup includes 800 models with 11,000 variations.

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Nadege Gault


- Inducted: 2011

What started as a fad for the wealthiest aristocrats in 16th century Europe evolved into a must-have accessory for any kid who loves dolls—a proper dollhouse. They come in all shapes and sizes—some are custom-made, some are mass-produced, and some are trademarked brand names like the Barbie Dreamhouse—but dollhouses do more than provide a home for dolls. They’ve taught generations of kids the ropes on interior decorating, housekeeping, and setting up and cleaning up.

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Olga Bogatyrenko // Shutterstock


- Inducted: 2011

Sure, blankets keep people warm, but for kids, they serve as fort roofs and tents. Flashlight-illuminated night reading takes place under blankets, and they can be worn as capes, shawls, and gowns. The term “security blanket” comes from Linus-esque kids who can’t seem to face the world without clutching their favorite cloth rectangle.

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Krikkiat // Shutterstock

‘Star Wars’ action figures

- Inducted: 2012

“Star Wars” is not only the most famous, most beloved, and most successful sci-fi franchise of all time, it’s a merchandising powerhouse that changed the way movies were marketed. At the center of it all is the seemingly endless line of action figures that range from familiar faces like Han Solo and Darth Vader to obscure cameo characters like Bib Fortuna and 2-1B. Kids of all ages have been collecting them, playing with them, staging battles with them, and sometimes selling them for a small fortune for more than 40 years.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2012

Like playing cards, dominoes have a long history dating back centuries and can be used to play many different games in a variety of styles. That includes blocking games, scoring games, or dice-based games—they are, after all, adorned with the familiar dot-based numerical system found on dice. There’s also, of course, the option of meticulously setting them up only for the mesmerizing thrill of knocking them down in a self-perpetuating sequence.

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Staxringold // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2013

One of the oldest games still in existence, chess is played on a board similar to the one used for checkers, but it involves much more strategy and calculated thinking. Both of those are good skills for kids to learn, and learn they do by playing chess—although many of them continue to call “knights” “horses” well into adulthood and it seems that no one has ever figured out what a rook actually is.

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gaetanlee // Wikimedia Commons

Rubber duck

- Inducted: 2013

The venerable rubber duckie is the greatest bathtub toy in history. They’re so perfectly paired with bathtime, in fact, that Ernie from “Sesame Street” fame wrote a song about them.

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Maclapessoa // Wikimedia Commons

Little green army men

- Inducted: 2014

They don’t move like G.I. Joe action figures and they’re not meticulously detailed like “Star Wars” action figures, but little green army men are an inseparable part of the childhoods of countless Americans. Just like real soldiers, some carried weapons, others medical supplies, binoculars, trenching tools, or parachutes. All, however, were ready for battle the moment they left their bucket.

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Steve Ford Elliott // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2014

Some soapy liquid and a wand with a circle on the end is all it takes for the magic to happen. Although bubbles can now be blasted wholesale out of everything from bubble guns to rapid-fire motorized bubble machines, images of kids playing with translucent floating spheres date back centuries.

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Booyabazooka // Wikimedia Commons

Rubik's Cube

- Inducted: 2014

Just two years after the first Rubik’s Cube hit the shelves in 1980, puzzle aficionados had purchased 100 million of them, making the three-dimensional brain-straining toy the most popular puzzle of all time. The color-coded cube, which contains 27 smaller cubes that move laterally in rows, has stumped kids of all ages for generations and spawned a cult-like following and international competitions of all sorts, including, but not limited to blindfolded Rubik’s Cube tournaments.

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ViciousCritic // Wikimedia Commons


- Inducted: 2015

From Mr. Rogers to “The Godfather Part II,” puppets have long been a part of popular culture—and the manually animated dolls and figurines have a history dating back 6,000 years. From simple sock puppets to elaborate marionettes, they’re used to entertain, to display feelings and emotions, to put on plays, and to give children an outlet to act out their imaginations.

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Winning Moves Games


- Inducted: 2015

It’s not recommended for germaphobes or anyone who shies away from close contact with other people, but for those who get a thrill out of pretzeling their limbs and bodies around those of their friends, knowing your colors is all it takes to make a day out of Twister. Johnny Carson launched the game into the stratosphere when he played it with Eva Gabor on “The Tonight Show,” and before it became a hit with children, Twister was common on college campuses—sometimes for wholesome, good, clean fun. Other times, not so much.

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Super Soaker

- Inducted: 2015

Water gun battles went up a few DEFCON levels when the Super Soaker hit stores in 1990. Invented by a NASA-affiliated nuclear and mechanical engineer who was trained at the Tuskegee Institute, the handheld water cannon blasted long streams of high-pressure H2O in drenching torrents. After that, kids got the hint that anyone who brought an old-fashioned water gun to a backyard battle while a Super Soaker was in play might as well have not brought any water gun at all—kids have armed themselves with 200 million of them in the ensuing years.

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Dungeons & Dragons

- Inducted: 2016

A worldwide symbol of nerd culture, Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game that was so successful among older children and adults that it spawned an avalanche of copycat games that never quite matched up. It also stands out for transitioning to digital and online play more successfully than perhaps any other tabletop game in history.

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José Luis Ruiz // Flickr

Fisher-Price Little People

- Inducted: 2016

Before video games like Sim City took the concept of city-building digital, kids across the land set up towns, farms, and even amusement parks of their own with Fisher-Price Little People figures and accessories. Originally made of wood, they eventually became plastic and got chunkier as the old-school people, places, and things were recognized as choking hazards.

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New Anawach // Shutterstock


- Inducted: 2016

Two chains, a crossbar, and something to sit on are all it takes for hours of outdoor exercise and entertainment on the age-old plaything known worldwide as the swing. Little ones get pushed from behind by an adult or a bigger kid while older children learn the art of leaning back and curling their legs to generate their own momentum. The boldest and bravest reach the highest point possible and then jump off to send themselves airborne.

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SamJonah // Shutterstock


- Inducted: 2017

Mrs. Peacock, Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard, and the rest are among the unforgettable characters that play out the drama that unfolds in the world’s greatest murder-mystery game. Clue offers hundreds of possible endings to a murder that players must solve by navigating rooms like the Study, the Library, the Conservatory, and the Billiard Room with weapons like the rope, the revolver, and the lead pipe.

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Glen Edwards YYC // Shutterstock

Wiffle Ball

- Inducted: 2017

Playing a game of pickup baseball, complete with two teams, requires a field—or at least a lot of space—to prevent dented cars, broken windows, and foul balls bonking passers-by on the head. In the early ’50s, however, full-fledged games became possible even in cities and the tightest suburban cul-de-sacs thanks to Wiffle Ball. The hemispherically slotted balls make sliders, curveballs, and knuckleballs easy to throw, so it’s a pitcher’s game to lose.

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ABF // Wikimedia Commons

Paper airplane

- Inducted: 2017

Hands and a sheet of looseleaf paper are all it takes for a kid to go airborne. Paper airplanes emerged as a hobby shortly after the Wright brothers showed gravity who’s boss in the early 1900s, and kids are still folding and flying today.

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David Bergin // Flickr

Magic 8-Ball

- Inducted: 2018

Kids have questions—and the Magic 8-Ball has answers. In 1946, a man named Abe Bookman of Cincinnati’s Alabe Crafts Company filled an oversized replica billiards 8-ball with cloudy liquid and a 20-sided plastic polyhedron, each side of which offered a vague and cryptic answer to a hypothetical question. The famous fortune-telling sphere continues giving eerily accurate answers to this day.

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Atmosphere1 // Shutterstock


- Inducted: 2018

There was a time when arcades everywhere roared with buzzing buzzers, ringing bells, flashing lights, and the unmistakable clank of flipper-on-ball action that could only come from a row of pinball machines. First mechanical, then electric, pinball was a hallmark of adolescent and teenage hangouts for much of the second half of the 20th century. They eventually evolved to include licensed media properties from Disney and “Star Wars” to ZZ Top and Marvel superheroes.

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Nate Cull // Flickr


- Inducted: 2018

Throughout history, there have been many variations to the standard deck of 52 playing cards, but only one has become a staple of American game culture—Uno. Few games can pit adults against kids without the former having to dumb it down or the latter having to feel outmatched, but Uno owns that middle ground. From reverses and wild cards to skips and the dreaded draw four, it’s the contest that requires players to say the name of the game when they work their way down to a single card.

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Jne Valokuvaus // Shutterstock

Coloring book

- Inducted: 2019

Crayola is in the Hall of Fame, but coloring books have long been the Raggedy Andy to the crayon’s Raggedy Ann. The advent of coloring books didn’t require budding artists to know how to draw to draft their masterpieces—only how to color within the lines.

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David Ferencik // Shutterstock

Magic: The Gathering

- Inducted: 2019

A relatively new arrival that hit the scene only in 1993, Magic: The Gathering is a fantasy game that features a complex set of rules. The real magic, however, lies in the fact that every game is different because those rules change depending on how the cards are played.

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Gabor Mika // Shutterstock

Matchbox cars

- Inducted: 2019

Before American Hot Wheels, there were British Matchbox cars. They’re still around today and at their height of popularity, 100 million Matchbox cars were sold every year in the United States alone. Known for their high quality, affordability, and intricate detail, Matchbox cars have rolled across living room floors, crashed into each other, and been stockpiled in massive collections by kids for generations.

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