90% Child, 10% Toy

What makes a great toy?

Is greatness an effect of corporate advertising? Quality of materials? Fad-free nature?

In my opinion, the best toys offer children the opportunity to create, to imagine, and to learn. So, in a sense, 90% of the “play power” comes from the child, and only 10% from the toy.

Since its founding in 1998, the National Toy Hall of Fame (now a part of the Strong National Museum of Play, located in Rochester, NY) has celebrated the very best in playthings. There are currently 39 different toys in the Hall of Fame, each of which has been nominated on the basis of the following criteria: iconic status, longevity, discovery, and innovation. And while some of the members may surprise you, I’m pretty sure that your toybox — if it looked anything like mine — contained many of these Hall of Famers.

(My personal favorite? As you may have guessed, the cardboard box. Cheap, durable, paintable, recyclable — sometimes that’s all you need in order to unleash the creative genius in your child. Rocket ship, anyone?)


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