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National Toy Hall of Fame: Playing Cards, The Game of Life

Playing Cards and The Game of Life® Inducted into National Toy Hall of Fame® at the Strong

November 4, 2010 - ROCHESTER, New York - Give a great big hand to playing cards and a well-deserved bonus to The Game of Life, the two newest toys inducted today into the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong. Both honored toys continue to engross generations of players in games of luck, skill, and playful interaction.

The two honorees were selected from among 12 toy finalists that included: Cabbage Patch Kids®, Chess, Dollhouse, Dominoes, Dungeons & Dragons®, Hot Wheels,® Lite Brite®, Magic 8 Ball®, Pogo Stick, and Rubik's Cube®.

From Go Fish to Texas Hold'em - and from bridge to Old Maid - playing cards offer more game variations than any other single kind of gaming device. With earliest origins in China, India, and Egypt, playing cards were widely known in Europe after the 1600s. The first American card decks came directly from England; after the Revolution, printers in the United States soon managed to print their own playing cards. From then onward, card decks became a fixture in many households.

Some small innovations developed over the years: two-sided face cards (the royal cards) meant players didn't have to turn their cards to see a Jack or a King's face, and indices (the small numbers at the corners of cards) allowed players to hold their cards closer in a "fan," so other players couldn't see their hands. But the earliest American playing cards look very similar to the cards we all recognize today.

For generations, The Game of Life has invited players to journey through life (from university, to business, to marriage, to parenthood, and retirement) and end up either in Millionaire's Acres - or the Poorhouse (or in today's version, "Bankrupt"). In 1860, Milton Bradley, founder of the company, originally printed and sold the game as The Checkered Game of Life. In 1960, a new version was commissioned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the company, and was very loosely based on the earlier game. Designed by Reuben Klamer and "personally endorsed" by the popular radio and television personality Art Linkletter, The Game of Life quickly became one of the nation's most popular board games. Since then, it has been updated several times and both electronic and specially-themed versions are now widely available. One of the best-selling games of all time, The Game of Life has been translated into at least 20 languages.

The National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong recognizes toys that have engaged and delighted multiple generations, inspiring them to learn, create, and discover through play. Criteria for induction include: Icon-status (the toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered); Longevity (the toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations); Discovery (the toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play); and Innovation (the toy profoundly changed play or toy design).

To date, the following 46 toys have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame: Alphabet Blocks, Atari® 2600 Game System, Ball, Barbie®, Baby Doll, Bicycle, Big Wheel®, Candy Land®, Cardboard Box, Checkers, Crayola® Crayons, Duncan® Yo-Yo, Easy-Bake® Oven, Erector® Set, Etch A Sketch®, Frisbee®, The Game of Life®, G.I. Joe™, Hula Hoop®, Jack-in-the-Box, Jacks, Jigsaw Puzzle, Jump Rope, Kite, LEGO®, Lincoln Logs®, Lionel® Trains, Marbles, Monopoly®, Mr. Potato Head®, Nintendo Game Boy®, Play-Doh®, Playing Cards, Radio Flyer® Wagon, Raggedy Ann & Andy™, Rocking Horse, Roller Skates, Scrabble®, Silly Putty®, Skateboard, Slinky®, Stick, Teddy Bear, Tinkertoy®, Tonka® Trucks, and View-Master®.

For more information on the National Toy Hall of Fame, visit www.toyhalloffame.org.

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