Plastics continue to be a material of choice for the latest inductees to the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, N.Y.
Star Wars action figures and Dominoes were chosen as 2012 inductees by a 24-member panel of toy experts, psychologists, academics and designers. The two inductees were announced Nov. 16 and joined 49 others, many of which are made of plastics and include such well-known names as Barbie, Etch-a-Sketch, G.I. Joe, Frisbee, Hula Hoop and Lego.
The National Toy Hall of Fame is part of The Strong educational institution, which also houses the National Museum of Play in Rochester. The toy hall of fame was established in 1982 after the death of Margaret Barry Strong, who bequeathed an extensive, renowned collection of dolls.
Susan Trien, senior director of public relations at The Strong, explained the criteria considered for hall of fame inductees.
“The toy has to be iconic and widely recognized and have been around for a while,” Trien said in a telephone interview. “It should be popular over several generations and often innovative. It should foster learning, creativity or discovery.”
No criterion stipulates the toy's material components, but plastics are common because they allow design freedom and economical production.
Star Wars action figures stem from the 1977 hit movie Star Wars, which spawned the sale of millions of action figures, including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The popularity of the figures encouraged other toy makers to associate toys to movies and television series.
Hasbro Inc. of Pawtucket, R.I., owns the rights to Star Wars action figures.
Hasbro, established in 1923, also achieved fame through its Mr. Potato Head products, Transformers toys, Kenner building toys and G.I. Joe, another hall of fame inductee.
Dominoes, like playing cards and dice, is an old game, originating in China in the 1300s. Legend has it that Italian missionaries brought the game back to Europe, where it became popular. The game's modern name refers to the French word domino, a priest's winter hood that was white on the inside and black on the outside.
Although made of wood for much of their history, dominoes typically have been injection molded of plastic in recent years.
The Strong claims to house the world's most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. The collection is designed to foster research, exhibitions and other interpretive and interactive activities for this capricious, yet basic, human endeavor.