It’s a case of toy museum deja vu – for the second time, inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame were never a part of my toy box.
This year’s inductees into the shrine in Rochester, N.Y. are chess and the rubber duck.
Wait. You didn’t know there’s a toy hall of fame? So you probably don’t know about the controversy over Nerf.
More on that later.
This year, chess joins its board-game partner checkers (class of 2003) in the shrine. And rubber duck – with some help from Ernie on “Sesame Street,” undoubtedly – splashes in alongside it.
I don’t play chess, never have. And I never had a rubber duck.
It’s a flashback to 2006 (Easy-Bake Oven and Lionel Trains) for the Brad-didn’t-play-with-them category. Unlike the legendary classes of 2000 (bicycle, jacks, jump rope, Mr. Potato Head, slinky) and 2004 (rocking horse, G.I. Joe and Scrabble), we won’t remember this year’s group.
This is like 2012, when Barry Larkin was the only inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It brings anger because any discussion of the Toy Hall of Fame leads to the same place: The biggest omissions.
It seems like everyone has opinions on what toys shouldn’t be there – the 2008 induction of the stick is the biggest controversy in the hall of fame’s history, although the choice of blanket in 2011 is an even more glaring mistake to me. A stick can be used as a bat, gun, baton and crutch, among other uses. A blanket? Beyond fort- and cape-making, tell me how a blanket is a toy.
It’s not. Especially when one of the 10 greatest toys in history remains on the outside, looking in – Nerf, the Pete Rose of the toy community.
Let this sink in: Nerf toys are not in the Toy Hall of Fame.
Alphabet blocks are. Jigsaw puzzles are. Star Wars action figures are.
But Nerf toys – most importantly, the original Nerf ball, Nerf basketball (same as original, just orange in color) and Nerf football? Nope. Like Rose, the Nerf sits outside the shrine, lonely and ignored.
Even though Nerf changed the game. Literally.
When the first Nerf ball came along, all ball-based games could move inside, where your mom wouldn’t get mad if a ball bounced off a lamp shade (although, truth be told, a Nerf ball can do some damage if thrown hard enough from close enough).
The Nerf basketball made my middle-school years much less boring, since I could practice dunking on the rim that hung from a door in our family room. I could take off from the masking-tape free throw line and still throw it down before I crashed into the door, provoking my mom to yell at me.
The Nerf football allowed kids like me – who couldn’t correctly grip a full-sized football and didn’t enjoy getting drilled in their bony chests by throws from their more-athletic friends – play catch with greater ease.
I’m not one to criticize Hall of Fame voters – it’s their right to be dumb – but do you seriously think Raggedy Ann (2002) or Raggedy Andy (2007) had that kind of impact? And I had a Raggedy Andy! (His name, curiously, was “Andy.”)
I could go on about other toys that deserve enshrinement – particularly the scooter – but suffice to say that at least one person will not be satisfied until the Nerf ball gets a spot in the Toy Hall of Fame.
Voters who didn’t vote for Nerf are soft in the head – a curious coincidence of toy history.
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.