The Toy Hall of Fame's list of finalists for 2021 is out, and while there are many items made using plastics, they're up against what the hall says "may be the most universal and oldest toy in the world": sand.
"Children recognize sand as a creative material suitable for pouring, scooping, sieving, raking and measuring," the Hall of Fame wrote in its announcement of this year's finalists. "Wet sand is even better, ready for kids to construct, shape and sculpt. Sand provides unique opportunities for tactical, physical, cooperative, creative and independent free play."
At least the nomination photo places the sand inside a plastic bucket. If it wins, it would join items such as sticks and bubbles as nonbranded playthings.
But sand has some tough competition with its own long history, especially when it comes to plastics. The billiard ball was key to the new plastics industry, spurring the development of celluloid as a replacement for ivory in pool balls in the 1800s. (Billiard balls today typically are made with phenolic resins.)
Other plastics featured in finalists this year: Milton Bradley's Battleship game, which has been sold in everything from paper to electronic versions; American Girl dolls; the Fisher-Price Corn Popper; Masters of the Universe action figures; and, to a lesser extent, the board game Risk and toy fire engines. American Girl dolls and the Corn Popper have been finalists previously. You can find the full list of finalists here.
The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y., hosts the Hall of Fame. It will announce the winners in November.