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National Toy Hall of Fame Inducts 4 Classics for 2023

This year’s picks include a ‘player’s choice’ selected by the public


spinner image new toys inducted into the national toy hall of fame from left to right nerf balls fisher price corn popper cabbage patch kids and baseball cards
Courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play

Cabbage Patch Kids, Nerf, baseball cards and the Fisher-Price Corn Popper are the latest inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

The hall of fame was established in 1998 to recognize toys that have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period..

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As part of the hall’s 25th anniversary celebration, the public was invited to participate in the selection of a fourth inductee.

“This year we gave the public a vote for a week,” said Christopher Bensch, vice president for collections at the Strong Museum. Bensch announced the winners Friday morning on ABC’s Good Morning America.

The Fisher-Price Corn Popper won the “player’s choice” contest, beating out My Little Pony, PEZ, the pogo stick and Transformers.

The three other inductees were selected by a panel of judges from a list of a dozen finalists. The finalists that did not make the cut this year are: Battleship, bingo, Bop It, Choose Your Own Adventure game books, Connect 4, Ken, Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, slime and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Here’s more about the four new inductees.

1. Cabbage Patch Kids

spinner image cabbage patch kid baby dolls
Courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play

Created by art student Xavier Roberts in the 1970s, his “Little People” dolls were unique, in part, because he didn’t sell them but offered them up for adoption — including a birth certificate and adoption papers with each doll. In 1982, the dolls were renamed Cabbage Patch Kids through a licensing deal with Coleco Industries. “For more than 40 years, the evergreen brand has consistently conveyed messages about unconventional beauty and belonging,” according to the Strong Museum.

2. Baseball cards

spinner image baseball cards and a collectors booklet
Courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play

For more than a century, tobacco and candy manufacturers offered picture cards as a premium with their products, but the popularity of baseball cards took off after World War II when Topps and Bowman appeared. Never mind the stick of gum, the cards were the prize mostly for boys, who began to collect and trade them. They were also used as noisemakers when pinned to the spokes of their bicycles, as Bensch admits he did as a child.

3. Nerf

spinner image foam nerf balls and nerf toys for the strong national museum of play
Courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play

Parker Brothers sold 4 million Nerf Balls the year they debuted, in 1969. The foam ball was sold to parents as an indoor toy that won’t “damage lamps or break windows.” The brand has since expanded, and Bensch notes that Nerf is especially known now for its blasters, toy guns that shoot foam objects.

4. Fisher-Price Corn Popper

spinner image the fisher price corn popper a stick attached to a plastic dome full of gumball sized balls that pop as it moves
Courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play

The public chose this classic toy for toddlers, a perennial finalist, to enter the hall of fame.

“It’s perfect for toddlers learning to walk,” says Bensch.

Designed by Arthur Holt in the 1950s, the push toy features a plastic dome filled with gumball-size balls that are “popped” as a child pushes the toy. Fisher-Price purchased the design in 1957 for $50.

The latest inductees join 80 other classic toys that have previously been inducted into the hall of fame, including last year’s inductees: the top, Lite-Brite and Masters of the Universe action figures. Find the full list of inductees over the years here.

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