American Girl Dolls, Risk, Sand makes it to a game hall of fame

ROCHESTER, NY (AP) – American Girl Dolls and the strategy board game Risk were introduced to the National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday in recognition of their influence on the gaming industry. Sand, which the group called perhaps the most universal and oldest toy in the world, was also induced.

All three were honored during a ceremony at the hall after defeating a panel of experts who voted for them from a group of 12 finalists.

Also in the running this year were four other competitive games: Battleship, The Settlers of Catan, Mahjong and billiards, as well as Cabbage Patch Kids, Masters of the Universe, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, the toy fire department and the piñato.

Anyone can nominate a toy but to be considered, they must have withstood tests of time and memory, changed game or toy design and fostered learning, creativity or discovery.

American Girl Dolls, the 1986 creation of educator Pleasant Rowland, was recognized for her research of the country’s social and cultural history. The 18-inch historical dolls and accompanying books each offer insights into an era. For example, Molly McIntire expects her father to return home from World War II.

The contemporary puppet line Truly Me, with its diversity of skin tones, hair and gender, followed in 1995, leaving children to choose a doll that looks like them.

“Rowland’s formula for combining puppetry with history lessons worked, in her words, like‘ chocolate cake with vitamins, ’” said curator Michelle Parnett-Dwyer. “At a time when some education experts have claimed that school curricula paid little attention to history, this toy may have filled a void.”

Risk, based on the French game Le Conquete du Monde, was first released in the United States in 1959 and continues to affect other board games, the salon’s officials said. It challenges players to control armies and conquer the world on a game board that is a map of continents.

“Risk has become one of the most popular board games of all time, inspiring a new body of passionate players, and influencing other games that started the war hobby – and by extension the euro games like The Settlers of Catan that many enjoy today,” Curator Nicolas Ricketts said.

Sand was honored for his “opportunities for tactical, physical, collaborative, creative and independent free play,” according to the famous hall, which is housed within The Fort Museum of Game in Rochester, New York.

“Children recognize sand as a creative material suitable for pouring, shaking, screening, scraping and measuring,” it said. “Wet sand is even better, ready for kids to build, shape and sculpt.”

“Although some toys can only be found online or in certain stores, Sand has a global reach that most toy manufacturers would envy,” said chief curator Chirstopher Bensch. “It’s been a toy car since prehistory, and anyone who has spent the day at the beach can understand the appeal of this toy.”

The 2021 class joins 74 previous honorees.

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