Small Talk Tag: Toy

Reporting for Duty

g.i. joe action figures

In 1964, Hasbro, Inc. introduced G.I. Joe: America’s Movable Fighting Man. Reportedly, Hasbro designers borrowed guns and rifles from the National Guard and even asked generals for top-secret materials in order to get all the details right! The company originally created three prototypes of their fighting man: Rocky the marine, Skip the sailor (not to be confused with Barbie’s sister Skipper), and Ace the pilot. Later, they settled on the universal name of G.I. Joe. The G.I. stands for “Government Issue,” a generic term for U.S. soldiers.

Joe premiered with a version for each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces: Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot, and Action Marine. A very lucky little boy once owned T/m’s 1964 Action Sailor #7600 and many of the uniforms, weapons, and equipment (check them all out on T/m’s website). All of the accessories were interchangeable, which may explain why our Joe is photographed in the last outfit his owner dressed him in: Action Marine uniform #7710.

Fame Game Winners

toy hall of fame inductees

The votes are in and the advisory committee has spoken: the 2015 Toy Hall of Fame Inductees are… drum roll please… puppet, Twister, and Super Soaker! Winning out over 9 other toys, this year’s group represents different types of play: imaginative, active, and outdoor fun. The toys also hail from different periods ranging from ancient times to the 1980s.

Stringed and hand puppets are among some of the oldest toys inducted into the Hall of Fame. Puppets can be found in nearly every culture dating back thousands of years; Plato and Aristotle even wrote about them in ancient Greece! The polka-dotted game of Twister has somewhat of a checkered past. When it debuted in the mid-1960s, Sears refused to carry it due to its “racy” nature. Until, that is, Johnny Carson and Eva Gabor famously played the game on The Tonight Show in 1966—and the game’s sales skyrocketed. Super Soaker was invented when a NASA scientist tinkered with the power of pressurized air using a PVC pipe and a soda bottle. Marketed for the first time in 1990, 27 million Super Soakers were sold over the next three years. Think this year’s inductees are all wet? Nominate your favorite toy for next year’s competition!
Photo courtesy of The Strong®, Rochester, New York.

Let’s Play House

dollhouse exhibit

The dollhouse is one of the most popular and enduring toys of all time. Why you ask? Because it fulfills so many needs: creativity, invention, psychological exploration, and self-discovery. Let’s Play House explores the collection’s dollhouses and the little girls that played with them, including Mamie Burt and Josephine Bird. These nineteenth-century homes are from the great age of dollhouses. During this period, affluent parents commissioned the houses as a training tool for their daughters’ future roles as wives, mothers, and household managers. That’s some big shoes to fill!

By the twentieth century, dollhouse play focused more on imagination than household management (thank goodness!). The museum’s Tynietoy dollhouse is now on display with recent acquisitions to the collection, including a 1974 Fisher-Price Play Family “A” Frame and a 1950s Louis Marx and Company “L” Shaped Ranch Dollhouse complete with a swimming pool!

We’re Back At It!

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is back in business. After rushing to the finish line to put the final touches on all new exhibits and interactive experiences, we reopened to the public on August 1, 2015. Since then, we’ve welcomed over 12,000 guests and hope that you will be among them soon.

If Kansas City is a little too far away, put it on your bucket list and stay tuned for blog posts on all of our new exhibits from dollhouses in Let’s Play House to an exploration of how in the world artist’s can possibly make works of art that small in In The Artist’s Studio.

Give a Hoot, Save Your Loot!

cast iron banks

While a piggy may be the most recognizable type of bank, cast iron banks in all shapes and figures were favored in the 19th century. Mechanical banks made the act of saving fun! These banks deposited coins by some sort of mechanical process… think humans or animals kicking, jumping, dancing, or doing handstands!

Mechanical banks were first manufactured in the late 1800s as the Industrial Revolution created a middle class that heralded the importance of earning and saving money combined with tinkerers of the Victorian Era experimenting with springs and windup devices. J.H. Bowen patented this toy “money box” in 1880. The financially savvy would place a coin on the branch. When a lever on the back of the bank is pressed, the owl’s head rotates and the coin gets deposited inside.

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