Saturday, November 7, 2009

Big Kid Toys & Little Kid Toys--Toy Hall of Fame Enshrines "the Ball"

A short article in today’s newspaper with the Strong National Museum of Play’s new “inductees” into the National Toy Hall of Fame is a welcome diversion from other more pressing and urgent news events.
I don’t know about you but I was not waiting with bated breath for the list of honorees. Maybe it’s because, unlike the Academy Awards or Emmy Awards, there was never mention of this year’s nominees to build interest and drama.

But, there are three newly enshrined toys to announce today. The Big Wheel. The Game Boy. And, hold your breath on this folks, the BALL! They join 41 other toys which have previously been enshrined.
What amazes me is that it took so long for the ball to find its rightful place. It probably should have been the second thing enshrined. That would be after “the stick” which is already in the Toy Hall of Fame. I mean are you trying to tell me that the Easy Bake Oven, View-Master, hula-hoop or even the cardboard box (all of which are enshrined) are more worthy that the Ball? Seems to me that there’s got to be some “payola” in there somewhere.

The stick! Sure, it’s been a toy since humanoids figured out that they could whomp critters and each other with sticks. That’s got to be the king of toys except for one small problem. Kids don’t play outside anymore. They have virtually no access to sticks. They have no conception of “sticks and stones may break my bones”.
And speaking of which, shouldn’t stones be in there ahead of balls? They were the early prototypes of balls until people evolved enough to figure out that soccer with an inflated animal innard was more fun than kicking the hell out of a rock.
But it still seems to me that there are some gaps to this Hall of Fame. What about “Pick-Up Sitcks”? And, as a child of the 50’s who grew up on such shows as “Davy Crocket” and “The Rifleman” and “Wagon Train” and “Rawhide”, what about the toy pistol? There are no toys like that in the Hall of Fame—except for the stick. Man, I was the happiest kid alive when I got my Mattel “Fanner 50” cap pistol with spring loaded plastic bullets for Christmas. Until then, I had always had to use a stick. (Kind of sounds like Ralphie with his Red Ryder BB Gun doesn’t it?) We'd use the Fanner 50 to shoot our Army Men from across the room (and Hey! How come Army Men aren't in the Hall of Fame?).

And you know, life might be more fun if Big Wheels had stuck around longer. I used to love the sound of them as the little hooligans we called our kids would roar up and down the alley behind the house on their Big Wheels for hours on end. It’s just too bad that there were never adult sized Big Wheels—just imagine a 40 year old riding a Big Wheel down the street, or a whole gang of them (take that Sons of Anarchy).
But let’s return to the ball. Think of all the balls in the world. My brother and I would use a baseball until the cover came off and then keep on using it until all the thread eventually unwound. Growing up there were footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, tennis balls, etc.
OK, so now I’m going to make known my official “nominee” for the 2010 class at the Strong National Toy Hall of Fame. It’s a toy the is used by fully 50% of the population of the world from birth to death. Each of that 50% of us checks it multiple times each day to make sure that it’s still there. It’s as comforting to us as a stuffed toy is to a toddler.

Here’s a picture of Al Bundy checking his on national TV (something for which he became famous). Its name, to quote JD on “Scrubs” is “Mr. Peeps”.

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