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The National Toy Hall Of Fame's Greatest Toys of All Time

the greatest toys of all timeAs we get ready for the Christmas crunch, many “best toy” lists will come and go. They’ll likely feature something from Angry Birds, the latest dancing Elmo, and a wild microscope – but will they last?

My boys have all the latest and greatest toys a kid could ask for. They each have their own iPad and boxes of trains, cars, Transformers, Lego, and puppets. Still, nothing can match the treasures of Nana’s toybox. My mother kept some Fisher Price gear for more than 30 years waiting for grandchildren, and it is those toys that they will play with for hours and hours and hours when visiting their grandparents.

So it makes me wonder: are we trying too hard with the toys we buy our kids? Is simpler better?

On November 15, the Toy Hall of Fame will announce the newest inductees to the list of the greatest toys of all time. After the jump, check out the toys that are already in the National Toy Hall Of Fame. How many toys that you will stuff under your tree this year would make the cut for your grandchildren?


  • Lego (inducted 1998) 1 of 49
    Lego (inducted 1998)
    "Named "Toy of the Century" in 2000 by both Fortune magazine and the British Association of Toy Retailers, LEGO blocks have delighted generations of kids and their parents. In 1949, Ole Christiansen, a Danish carpenter, created a set of interlocking red-and-white "Automatic Building Blocks"—LEGO bricks."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Big Wheel (inducted 2009) 2 of 49
    Big Wheel (inducted 2009)
    "In the 1960s, Ray Lohr, head designer for Louis Marx & Co., took apart a tricycle, mixed up the parts, and reassembled them into an upside down trike that handled like a race car."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Atari 2600 Game System (inducted 2007) 3 of 49
    Atari 2600 Game System (inducted 2007)
    "Atari first entered the home market with its 1975 electronic table-tennis game Pong. But its true game changer came out two years later: Atari 2600 Video Computer System. Kids battled friends in Combat, saved the earth in Space Invaders, outran ghosts in Pac-Man, and had fun with Frogger."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Hot Wheels (inducted 2011) 4 of 49
    Hot Wheels (inducted 2011)
    "Mattel has produced upwards of three billion cars, outdistancing the combined output of the Big Three automakers. More than 800 models and 11,000 variations of Hot Wheels have been manufactured, and these days—according to Mattel—eight cars are sold every second."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Crayola Crayons (inducted 1998) 5 of 49
    Crayola Crayons (inducted 1998)
    In 1900, noting teachers' complaints of poor quality chalk, Binney & Smith imagined a new market. Adapting a black grease pencil used to mark containers, they created handy multicolored non-toxic wax sticks in black, brown, orange, violet, blue, green, red, and yellow. Alice Binney combined the French word for chalk craie, with olea, "oily" to make "Crayola," and Crayola Crayons entered the market in 1903.
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • View-Master (inducted 1999) 6 of 49
    View-Master (inducted 1999)
    "In 1951 View-Master acquired its main competitor, film-strip production company Tru-Vue, and with it the stereo licensing rights to all Disney characters. View-Master began offering three-dimensional images of the brand new Disneyland amusement park and stills from Disney movies and television programs. Once sales exploded, View-Master offered slide reels of virtually every major kids' show and motion picture."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Cardboard Box (inducted 2005) 7 of 49
    Cardboard Box (inducted 2005)
    "Over the years, children sensed the possibilities inherent in cardboard boxes, recycling them into innumerable playthings. The strength, light weight, and easy availability that make cardboard boxes successful with industry have made them endlessly adaptable by children for creative play."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Barbie (inducted 1998) 8 of 49
    Barbie (inducted 1998)
    "Baby dolls filled store shelves in the 1950s, but Ruth Handler (co-founder of Mattel, Inc.) created a grown-up doll with a stunning wardrobe. Thus, welcome Barbie, the teenage fashion model. Within a year of her introduction in 1959, Barbie became the biggest selling fashion doll of all time."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Erector Set (inducted 1998) 9 of 49
    Erector Set (inducted 1998)
    "Specialized kits with electric motors included allowed kids to create trains, steam shovels, Ferris wheels, and Zeppelins. Faced with wartime metal shortages in the 1940s, the company introduced wooden sets. In the 1960s, the Gabriel Co. bought the popular toy, but sales slowed in the 1970s. In 1980, the manufacturer discontinued the line."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Easy Bake Oven (inducted 2006) 10 of 49
    Easy Bake Oven (inducted 2006)
    "In the early 1960s, pretzel vendors on New York City streets inspired toy makers at Kenner, Inc. to make the Easy-Bake Oven. Through the years, the design of the oven has changed, but not its popularity. Since 1963, more than 23 million have been sold, and more than 140 million mixes have been baked into yummy, yummy treats."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Blanket (inducted 2011) 11 of 49
    Blanket (inducted 2011)
    Not to be confused with Michael Jackson's youngest son, "children have played with blankets ever since ancient agrarians domesticated woolly animals and spun their coats for fabrics. In imaginative play and make-believe, kids have discovered the many playful uses for the blanket."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Tonka Trucks (inducted 2001) 12 of 49
    Tonka Trucks (inducted 2001)
    "Just after World War II, six Minnesota teachers who wanted to manufacture garden tools founded Mound Metalcraft in the basement of a local schoolhouse. In 1947, they acquired a competing company and inherited a toy steam shovel in the process. This gave them the idea of making toys. Using pressed steel, they designed a digger and a working "crane and clam." They changed the company name to "Tonka," after nearby Lake Minnetonka."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Play-Doh (inducted 1998) 13 of 49
    Play-Doh (inducted 1998)
    "Play-Doh modeling compound started out as wallpaper cleaner. Joe McVicker learned from a teacher that kids usually found modeling clay too hard to manipulate. Discovering that the squishy cleaning product he manufactured could substitute, McVicker shipped some to the school. After teachers and kids raved, he offered to supply the product to all Cincinnati schools."

    via Toy Hall of Fame
  • Candy Land (inducted 2005) 14 of 49
    Candy Land (inducted 2005)
    "Milton Bradley, now Hasbro, has produced Candy Land for more than 50 years. Today, along with the standard edition, the game is available in CD-ROM, as a hand-held electronic game, and in special character editions."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • GI-Joe (inducted 2004) 15 of 49
    GI-Joe (inducted 2004)
    "Because of his popularity, G.I. Joe has been both a battle-scarred soldier of America's culture wars and an influential toy prototype. For some critics, Joe's message of "might makes right" is the wrong one to share with children. Other adults counter that Joe encourages kids' stories of good triumphing over evil and fosters creativity, imagination, and self-esteem."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Checkers (inducted 2003) 16 of 49
    Checkers (inducted 2003)
    "Simple rules. Straightforward play. Sociability. These hallmarks have kept checkers popular even in an age of complex video games and colorful board games."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Dollhouse (inducted 2011) 17 of 49
    Dollhouse (inducted 2011)
    "Dollhouses help children learn about interior design and household management. Small hands develop manual dexterity in placing furnishings in the tiny rooms just so. While playing with their dollhouses, children begin to discern architectural styles and furnishings of varying designs and functions."

    via Toy Hall of Fame
  • Yo Yo (inducted 1999) 18 of 49
    Yo Yo (inducted 1999)
    "Versions of the yo-yo are said to have originated in ancient Greece or even earlier in China, but the first yo-yo craze seized Americans in the mid-19th century when several manufacturers patented improvements to the toy. At the beginning of the 20th century, Scientific American published directions for making yo-yos."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Ball (inducted 2009) 19 of 49
    Ball (inducted 2009)
    "Rolling, throwing, kicking, catching, bouncing, and batting. The ball is nearly as old as civilization itself. History abounds with stories and evidence of ball play."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Etch-A-Sketch (inducted 1998) 20 of 49
    Etch-A-Sketch (inducted 1998)
    "Introduced at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1959, the gadget failed to draw much attention. Numerous manufacturers passed over a chance to pick up the new toy, concluding that Granjean wanted too much money for it. However, the Ohio Art Company took a second look and invested $25,000, more than they had ever paid for a license. Ohio Art renamed the toy "Etch A Sketch" and began mass production later that year."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Baby Doll (inducted 2008) 21 of 49
    Baby Doll (inducted 2008)
    "Every baby doll—from the simplest version to the most technologically advanced—serves a special function in cultivating nurturing and parental roles in children, while promoting open-ended active play."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Frisbee (inducted 1998) 22 of 49
    Frisbee (inducted 1998)
    "The Frisbee story starts in college. Late 19th-century students at Yale and other New England universities played catch with pie plates (some say it was cookie tin lids) made by the nearby Frisbie Baking Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They yelled "Frisbie!" to warn passersby away from the spinning discs."

    via Toy Hall of Fame
  • Jigsaw Puzzle (inducted 2002) 23 of 49
    Jigsaw Puzzle (inducted 2002)
    "The first American puzzles appeared around 1850, and, like their predecessors, they featured maps cut from wood. In 1908, Parker Brothers introduced its Pastime Puzzles, featuring pieces cut as animals, letters, and geometric shapes."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Scrabble (inducted 2004) 24 of 49
    Scrabble (inducted 2004)
    "Sales figures tell one story, but Scrabble's value doubles and triples when players rack their brains and stretch their vocabularies. Scrabble, little changed from its original form, proves that the best games let players play pleasantly, learn unconsciously, and socialize easily."

    via Toy Hall of Fame
  • Bicycle (inducted 2000) 25 of 49
    Bicycle (inducted 2000)
    "Part kids' toy, part adult athletic equipment, and part basic transportation, bicycles first gained popularity at the end of the 19th century."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Jacks (inducted 2000) 26 of 49
    Jacks (inducted 2000)
    "All jacks games share a strategy: toss a ball in the air and scoop up pieces before the ball bounces. In this game of skill, almost any collection of small objects will work—beans, rocks, stones, and even bones. Throughout history, kids in virtually every culture on the globe have sat cross-legged and played some version of the game."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Nintendo Game-Boy (inducted 2009) 27 of 49
    Nintendo Game-Boy (inducted 2009)
    "No video game platform did more to put gamers "on the go" than Nintendo Game Boy. Over the past two decades, Game Boy has become synonymous with portable gaming fun."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Lincoln Logs (inducted 1999) 28 of 49
    Lincoln Logs (inducted 1999)
    "The idea for Lincoln Logs struck John Lloyd Wright as he watched workers build one of his father's designs—an earthquake-proof building in Japan. The construction toy he created came with logs notched at both ends so kids could build structures sturdy enough to stand up to rough play."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Lionel Trains (inducted 2006) 29 of 49
    Lionel Trains (inducted 2006)
    "Lionel trains symbolized the ideal American childhood for more than a century, and in its heyday during the 1950s, Lionel accounted for two-thirds of all the toy trains sold in the United States."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Jump Rope (inducted 2000) 30 of 49
    Jump Rope (inducted 2000)
    "Cinderella, dressed in yellow, went up stairs to kiss a fellow.... For generations, American girls have spent their childhoods jumping rope."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Mr Potato Head (inducted 2000) 31 of 49
    Mr Potato Head (inducted 2000)
    "Kids play with the food they don't want to eat. George Lerner, an inventor who figured that vegetables with a little personality might have a better chance, created a set of silly face parts as bonuses for cereal box promotions."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Jack in the Box (inducted 2005) 32 of 49
    Jack in the Box (inducted 2005)
    The jack-in-the-box offers continual delight. Known since the 16th century, and appearing as a Punch box (minus sidekick Judy), an admiral on a stick, and a Johnny jump-up, sometimes the jack figure was more horrible than humorous.
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Hula Hoop (inducted 1999) 33 of 49
    Hula Hoop (inducted 1999)
    "Many of the greatest toys owe their success as much to marketing as to invention. Kids have been playing with hoops for centuries—rolling and spinning them with sticks, tossing them, and even swirling them around their middles."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Teddy Bear (inducted 1998) 34 of 49
    Teddy Bear (inducted 1998)
    "In 1902, on an unsuccessful hunting trip, President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that expedition trackers had caught and tied to a tree. The incident struck a chord with the American sense of fair play. With Roosevelt's permission, Morris Mictom, a Russian immigrant and Brooklyn toy-shop owner, sewed a cuddly stuffed toy and dubbed it Teddy's Bear."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Alphabet Blocks (inducted 2003) 35 of 49
    Alphabet Blocks (inducted 2003)
    "Alphabet blocks appeared as early as 1693, when philosopher John Locke pointed out that "dice and play-things, with the letters on them to teach children the alphabet by playing" would make learning to read a more enjoyable experience."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Roller Skates (inducted 1999) 36 of 49
    Roller Skates (inducted 1999)
    "The first roller skates had a big problem: they were impossible to turn. In 1863, however, New York businessman James Plimpton developed skates with four wheels that turned easily. Skating took off in all directions."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Kite (inducted 2007) 37 of 49
    Kite (inducted 2007)
    "Though the aerodynamics of kites remain the same, the materials, shapes, and uses of kites have multiplied throughout the centuries. Ancient Chinese kites have given way to kites of paper, polyester, and rip-stop nylon."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Marbles (inducted 1998) 38 of 49
    Marbles (inducted 1998)
    "Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played with marbles made of stone or polished nuts. Shakespeare mentioned marbles in his play Twelfth Night. The earliest settlers brought them to America from Europe, and even a few founding fathers shot a skilled game!"
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Tinkertoy (inducted 1998) 39 of 49
    Tinkertoy (inducted 1998)
    "Originally intended for younger boys, after 1919 Tinkertoys attracted budding engineers through the addition of an electric motor. The toys even came with instruction for creating elaborate mechanical "tool," such as printing presses, lathes, airplanes, and power saws."
    Toy Hall of Fame
  • Skateboard (inducted 2008) 40 of 49
    Skateboard (inducted 2008)
    "Skateboarding became something to do when the surf wasn't up. But those first boards were clumsy, and the skater had very little control over his ride. The first wave of enthusiasts seemed not to notice. Millions of kids took to skateboarding by the late 1960s."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Playing Cards (inducted 2010) 41 of 49
    Playing Cards (inducted 2010)
    From Go Fish to Texas Hold'em, and from bridge to Old Maid, playing cards allow for more games than any other single type of gaming device. With origins in China, India, and Egypt, playing cards became widely known in Europe after the 1600s.
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Slinky (inducted 2000) 42 of 49
    Slinky (inducted 2000)
    "Mechanical engineer Richard James invented the Slinky by accident. In 1943, he was working to devise springs that could keep sensitive ship equipment steady at sea. After accidentally knocking some samples off a shelf, he watched in amazement as they gracefully "walked" down instead of falling."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Radio Flyer Wagon (inducted 1999) 43 of 49
    Radio Flyer Wagon (inducted 1999)
    "Antonio Pasin arrived in New York in 1914 carrying little else than the carpentry skills he had learned from his father and grandfather. Building little red wagons at night and peddling them during the day, he saved enough money to found the Liberty Coaster Company in 1923, naming it after the statue he had admired in New York Harbor. In 1930, he began mass-producing the toys out of stamped metal. He called his new wagon the "Radio Flyer," another patriotic reference to his homeland, this one after a famous Italian invention, the radio."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • The Game Of Life (inducted 2010) 44 of 49
    The Game Of Life (inducted 2010)
    "The game has been criticized over the years for being based solely on luck and for rewarding risk-taking, but Life has stood the test of time—and family game night would not be as much fun without it."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Raggedy Ann and Andy (inducted 2002 / 2007) 45 of 49
    Raggedy Ann and Andy (inducted 2002 / 2007)
    "One day in 1915, as the story goes, Johnny Gruelle's daughter Marcella brought him an old rag doll. He drew a face on the worn fabric and called the doll Raggedy Ann. Gruelle, a cartoonist and illustrator, wrote a children's book about Raggedy Ann in 1918. Publisher P. F. Volland arranged to sell Raggedy Ann dolls along with the books, and the tie-in between Gruelle's Raggedy Ann Stories and the dolls proved a marketing hit."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Rocking Horse (inducted 2004) 46 of 49
    Rocking Horse (inducted 2004)
    "Rocking horses aren't hard to make. They are only slightly more difficult to build than the stick horses—"hobby horses"—that older children hop along on during gleeful pantomime. The first wooden rocking horses looked like cradles, adapting a cradle's form so that toddlers could begin to entertain themselves."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Monopoly (inducted 1998) 47 of 49
    Monopoly (inducted 1998)
    "At the height of the Great Depression, Monopoly was the best selling game in the country. Since then, Monopoly has appeared in 40 countries and 25 foreign languages. The original game used property names familiar to residents of Atlantic City, New Jersey. But after 1994, Parker Brothers began producing versions representing major cities throughout the country."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Silly Putty (inducted 2001) 48 of 49
    Silly Putty (inducted 2001)
    "When the Japanese invasion of Asia threatened America's rubber supply during World War II, chemists at General Electric began looking for a synthetic substitute. James Wright stumbled upon an odd concoction: a stretchy material that withstood decay and bounced 25 percent higher than rubber."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame
  • Stick (inducted 2008) 49 of 49
    Stick (inducted 2008)
    "The stick may be the world's oldest toy. Animals play with sticks, and we use them to play fetch with our dogs. When children pretend with sticks, they cultivate their creativity and develop their imaginations. They explore as they search outdoors for just the right one."
    Photo Credit: Toy Hall of Fame

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