Hot Wheels, Dollhouse, and Blanket Inducted into National Toy Hall of Fame® at The Strong®
November 2011 - ROCHESTER, New York - Small in scale, but huge in the toy world, this year's inductees make a grand entrance into the National Toy Hall of Fame - Hot Wheels, the iconic toy car with an edgy attitude; and the dollhouse, a perennial favorite of children and adult collectors alike. The two toy honorees are joined by a third humble, everyday household object often transformed by children into an imaginative plaything - the blanket! The honorees were selected from a field of 12 toy finalists, which included Dungeons & Dragons, Jenga, Pogo Stick, Puppet, R/C vehicles, Rubik's Cube, Simon, Star Wars action figures, Transformers, and Twister.
About Hot Wheels: Miniature toy cars have been around just about since Henry Ford rolled his horseless carriage out of the garage. In 1968 toy maker Mattel, Inc. combined the popularity of a die-cast vehicle with the speed of a hot rod to miniaturize the popular "muscle cars" of the late 1960s. Kids coveted the die-cast Barracudas, Camaros, Corvettes, Cougars, and Firebirds in the psychedelic colors Mattel offered just as their older siblings and parents longed for the real thing. Mattel designed their cars with low-friction axles and soft wheels that allowed the toys to reach phenomenal speeds on specially made race tracks. Corporate legend describes how the toy was named: Mattel, Inc. co-founder Elliot Handler, upon seeing a staff member's custom hot rod in the Mattel parking lot, exclaimed: "Wow, those are hot wheels!" The company developed flexible, plastic tracks for Hot Wheels, complete with the famous orange loop that became the symbol of the brand to a whole generation of kids. Mattel has produced more than three billion vehicles, more than the Big Three automakers combined. More than 800 models and 11,000 variations of Hot Wheels have been manufactured, and these days, eight vehicles are sold every second. (See 1968 Hot Wheels in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuCcx_Rcd6o)
About the Dollhouse: Dollhouses offer children a world in a size they can manage. The toy evolved from 16th century "baby houses," wooden cabinets in which wealthy European women displayed their collections of miniature furnishings. Miniatures fascinate children as much as adults, and by the 17th and 18th centuries, German toy makers produced a variation of the baby house - now called a dollhouse - for youngsters to furnish with tiny chairs and tables, beds and pallets, and tapestries and floor coverings. Mass-production methods of the 19th century allowed toy manufacturers to offer dollhouses cheaply, and more children played with them. They continued to grow in variety and popularity in the 20th century and remain a favorite children's play thing today. From the most elaborate architectural mansion to the simplest homemade structures, dollhouses allow kids to play by furnishing and refurnishing rooms, manipulating domestic figures, and making up stories about family activities, rituals, and events. Dollhouses fascinate adults as much as children. Some adults delight making their own dollhouses; others play virtual dollhouse in video games like The Sims.
About the Blanket: Children have probably played with blankets ever since ancient times. In imaginative play, it fills in for a king's robe, a bride's veil, a super hero's cape, a princess's gown, curtains for a puppet show, and a wizard's flying carpet. Thrown over a table, it forms a tent; draped around two chairs, it becomes a fort; on top of the carpet, it serves as an island of safety surrounded by sea monsters. And though hands work just fine, the blanket is the one, official piece of equipment in a game of peek-a-boo. Perhaps best of all, the blanket hides a flashlight switched on in the middle of the night for all kinds of nocturnal reading or sharing ghost stories. (Note: the blanket joins the cardboard box, inducted in 2005, and the stick, inducted in 2008, as honored toys of the imagination.)
To date, the following 49 toys have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame: Alphabet Blocks, Atari 2600 Game System, Baby Doll, Ball, Barbie, Bicycle, Big Wheel, Blanket, Candy Land, Cardboard Box, Checkers, Crayola Crayons, Dollhouse, Duncan Yo-Yo, Easy-Bake Oven, Erector Set, Etch A Sketch, Frisbee, The Game of Life, G.I. Joe, Hot Wheels, Hula Hoop, Jack-in-the-Box, Jacks, Jigsaw Puzzle, Jump Rope, Kite, LEGOo, Lincoln Logs, Lionel Trains, Marbles, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Nintendo Game Boy, Play-Doh, Playing Cards, Radio Flyer Wagon, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Rocking Horse, Roller Skates, Scrabble, Silly Putty, Skateboard, Slinky, Stick, Teddy Bear, Tinkertoy, Tonka Trucks, and View-Master.
Anyone can nominate a toy for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame. An internal museum advisory committee comprised of curators, educators, and historians reviews the submitted nominations and determines which toys meet the criteria for selection. A national selection committee then reviews the list of toy finalists. Each national selection committee member votes for his or her top toy picks for induction. The votes are then tallied, with the toys receiving the most votes making the cut for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame. For more information, visit www.toyhalloffame.org.