It’s yet another slap in the face for the Nerf blaster, which once again found itself as a runner-up as the National Toy Hall of Fame announced its 2022 inductees: the spinning top (which is among the world’s oldest toys), Lite-Brite, and Mattel’s Masters of the Universe toys.
Organized by The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, the National Toy Hall of Fame has, for years, highlighted the most notable objects of play with an annual ceremony that in the past has inducted such iconic toys as the swing, Fisher Price’s Little People, and Matchbox’s die-cast cars. Each year, three inductees are selected from a larger lineup of 12 finalists, which in the past have included Mattel’s Masters of the Universe line, which no longer has to force a smile for the camera and pretend it’s an honor just to be nominated.
This year’s finalists included games like bingo, Catan, Phase 10, and Rack-O, recognizable toy lines and brands like Breyer Horses, Nerf, Pound Puppies, and Spirograph, as well as the birthday party mainstay, the piñata (which just missed the cut for 2022).
It’s actually kind of surprising that it’s taken this long for the spinning top to be inducted, because as the museum points out, it has “more than 5,000 years of history behind it,” and was independently developed by countless cultures as a play toy. It’s about as basic and pure as a toy can get, and probably deserved the Hall of Fame nod decades ago.
Lite-Brite is the second-oldest of this year’s inductees (but first in problematic spelling). First introduced by Hasbro in 1966 and inspired by stained-glass windows, it allowed kids to create glowing images by jabbing light channeling plastic pegs into black sheets of paper that were illuminated from behind by a light bulb (or LEDs in the modern versions of the toy).
The last addition, Mattel’s Masters of the Universe line, helped define the toys of the ‘80s, and was one of the first to garner popularity through an accompanying animated series specifically designed to serve as a promotional tool for the toys. He-Man and Skeletor remain an iconic pairing of good and evil, and have enjoyed a resurgence and renewed interest among collectors in recent years. Did the power of Grayskull help sway the judge’s opinions this year? Who’s to say it didn’t?