The ancient top, cultural phenomenon Masters of the Universe and beloved Lite-Brite have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. The honorees, unveiled during a special ceremony at The Strong National Museum of Play, were chosen from a field of 12 finalists. The finalists included bingo, Breyer Horses, Catan, Nerf, piñata, Phase 10, Pound Puppies, Rack-O, and Spirograph.
Since ancient times, the spinning top has been a childhood staple of cultures in Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Australia. Modern kids still play with this classic toy.
The chief curator of the National Toy Museum, Christopher Bensch, said in a press release, “The top is one of the oldest toys and an integral part of many cultures, where it developed independently as a plaything. With more than 5,000 years of history behind it, it’s about time that the top spun its way into the National Toy Hall of Fame!”
The trendy Master of the Universe line of action figures includes the iconic He-Man and She-Ra. The toy line traces its popularity to maker Mattel’s use of comic books, television, and the big screen. The cartoon series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which ran from 1983 to 1985, created a cohesive fantasy world that allowed Mattel to introduce new characters and new toys to the line. In 2021, a new Netflix series based on Masters of the Universe proved the toy’s staying power.
Created in 1966, Lite-Brite uses the same concept as stained-glass windows, allowing children to develop glowing images against a black background, either following manufactured designs or creating their own picture. Through the years, Lite-Brite has gradually changed its format and technology, but the potential for open-ended creativity has kept Lite-Brite popular for over 50 years.
According to a press release, The National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong, established in 1998, recognizes toys that have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period. Each year, the prestigious hall inducts new honorees and showcases both contemporary and historic versions of classic toys beloved by generations. Anyone can nominate a toy to the National Toy Hall of Fame. Final selections are made on the advice of historians, educators, and other individuals who exemplify learning, creativity, and discovery throughout their lives and careers. Toys are celebrated year-round in a state-of-the-art exhibit at The Strong museum in Rochester, New York.