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Sand, Catan, Piñatas Lead Toy Hall of Fame Finalists

Associated Press

Thursday September 16, 2021

  (Source:National Toy Hall of Fame via AP)

Cabbage Patch Kids, the rosy-cheeked dolls that left store shelves picked clean during the first big holiday toy craze, are up for a spot in the National Toy Hall of Fame, part of a finalist group announced Wednesday that also includes garden-variety sand and the toy fire engine.

Also among finalists being considered for a November induction are five competitive games: Battleship, Risk, The Settlers of Catan, Mahjong and billiards, as well as the piñata, American Girl Dolls, Masters of the Universe and Fisher-Price Corn Popper.

The 2021 finalists were pulled from the thousands of nominations the National Toy Hall of Fame receives each year. Anyone can nominate a toy and a panel of experts, along with input from the public, votes in the three to be inducted. The 74 previous honorees have run the gamut from the simplest cardboard box and stick to the the groundbreaking Atari 2600 Game System and universally known Checkers, Crayola crayons and marbles.

To be inducted, toys must have withstood tests of time and memory, changed play or toy design and fostered learning, creativity or discovery.

All of the 2021 finalists have "greatly influenced the world of play," said Christopher Bensch, vice president for collections at the hall, which is located inside The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

"These 12 toys represent the wide scope of playthings—from one of the most universal playthings in the world like sand to a game-changing board game like Risk to the popular adult game of billiards," Bensch said.

Fans are invited to vote for their favorites as part of a "Player's Choice" ballot that closes Sept. 22.

The three toys that receive the most public votes will be submitted as one ballot to be counted with the 22 other top-three ballots submitted by the National Selection Advisory Committee, effectively making the public one member of the committee.

The winners will be inducted Nov. 4.

About this year's nominees:

- American Girl Dolls: Created in 1986 by educator and newscaster Pleasant Rowland, each doll comes with a narrative that reflects an era of American history.

- Battleship: Originally played with paper and pencil, Milton Bradley's 1967 plastic adaptation popularized the two-person strategy game. It was among the first board games to be computerized in 1979.

- Billiards: Commonly known as pool in the United States, the game evolved from earlier European outdoor games and became popular in the 1800s.

- Cabbage Patch Kids: The dolls, each unique, were launched in 1979. Complete with adoption papers, they were the must-have holiday toy of 1983, paving the way for Tickle Me Elmo, Beanie Babies, and Furby that followed.

- Fisher-Price Corn Popper: Introduced in 1957, the push-toy got toddlers walking, mesmerized by bright flying balls and the popping sound.

- Mahjong: The gambling card game originated in China became popular in the United States in the 1920s.

- Masters of the Universe: He-Man, She-Ra and the line's other action figures became popular through Mattel's use of comic books and television, including the cartoon series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, from 1983 to 1985.

- Piñata: The treat-filled paper mache object is commonly associated with Mexican culture but may date back to early 13th-century China.

- Risk: The strategy board game first published in the United States in 1959 challenges players to control armies and conquer the world.

- Sand: The substance is perhaps the most universal and oldest toy in the world, according to the National Toy Hall of Fame.

- The Settlers of Catan: The cooperative board game now called "Catan" was first published in Germany. Players representing settlers establish a settlement on an island by spending resources, which are earned through trade and rolls of the dice.

- Toy fire engine: Materials, design and technology have evolved but the appeal has remained.

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