Plastics are prominent in the 2014 inductees for the National Toy Hall of Fame.
The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y., inducted three classic toys into the Hall of Fame Nov. 6, with two of the items made from plastic and the third stored in millions of plastic bottles.
Little green army men, injection molded from plastics such as high density polyethylene, were introduced in 1938 as alternatives for metal and lead toy soldiers. The soldiers, two to four inches tall, initially focused on United States military personnel but variations representing France, Germany and Japan soon joined them. Now multiple molders make millions of the solders annually.
Rubik's Cube was invented in the 1970s by Hungarian architect Erno Rubik and brought to North America by Ideal Toy Corp. Between 1980 and 1982, Ideal sold more than 100 million of the puzzles, components of which are molded from plastics. The toys can be arranged in 43 quintillion ways and the current speed champion solver is Mats Valk of the Netherlands, who has solved it in 5.5 seconds. (Quintillion, by the way, is a number followed by 18 zeroes.)
Soap bubbles' direct origins go back to at least the 19th century, although there are paintings from 17th century Flanders showing children playing with bubbles. In some versions of the bubbles sold today, the loop for blowing bubbles is molded plastic and the bottle containing the soap is usually blow molded plastic.
The Strong chose the three winners among 12 short-listed entries. Toys with plastic content figured as well in many of the non-winners as well, notably American Girl Dolls, Fisher-Price Little People, Hess Toy Trucks, Operation Skill Game, Slip ‘N Slide and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The National Toy Hall of Fame is in Rochester, N.Y. To date it has inducted 56 toys, many plastics-intensive such as Barbie, Frisbee, G.I. Joe, Lego and Star Wars action figures.
Anyone can nominate a toy for annual induction into the hall of fame. A committee made up of curators and historians review the submissions before naming finalists. The winners are picked from those finalists to receive the most votes.