Small Talk Tag: Toy

Quizzes Can Be Fun

Duncan Yo-Yo

If someone asked us if we wanted to play with some quizzes, our answer would most likely be no way (unless they were about our favorite sports team or gave us insight on our latest crush)! But, we could be passing up the chance to play with yo-yos.

Although the yo-yo’s origin is unknown, the most popular theory has the toy originating in 1000 B.C. China. Being an ancient toy, the yo-yo has had a lot of different names: quizzes, bandalores, chucki. Americans know it by it’s Filipino name, which means “come back,” thanks to Pedro Flores who began producing yo-yos when he immigrated to the United States in 1928. Two years later, he sold the company to Donald F. Duncan who produced T/m’s two-colored yo-yo.

Today, Duncan is still making yo-yos for novices and experts alike. The National Yo-Yo Museum in Chico, California hosted the National Yo-Yo Contest on October 5, 2013.  You definitely won’t see us there anytime soon… we’re still trying to nail the sleeper trick.

Rainbow Loom On

Keep Calm and Rainbow Loom On

I’m sure you’ve heard of Beanie Babies, Pogs, Tamagotchi, and Silly Bandz. But have you heard of Rainbow Loom?! It’s currently flying off store shelves.

The loom was invented by an engineer wanting to spend quality time with his daughters, but with fingers too large to participate. The easy-to-use loom weaves jewelry using a plastic pegboard and mini, multicolored rubber bands. The company’s YouTube channel and an exploding social community exhibit the endless possibilities. So what’s not to love? It’s a entrepreneurial, toy business success story based on family and reinventing a classic toy.

Thought Rainbow Loom sounded familiar too? That’s because the concept isn’t that different from pot holder weaving sets. Rainbow Loom fosters creativity, focus, fine motor skills, and patience; some have even argued that it promotes digital literacy. One thing is for sure: it’s created a lot of “kidpreneurs” selling rubber bracelets instead of lemonade at roadside stands near you. Keep calm and Rainbow Loom on!

Toys Go To War

German Toy Soldiers Set

True or False? World events, including war, have influenced toys. True! You may have even played with some of these toys, from green army men, first made in 1938 by Bergen Toy & Novelty Company to Hasbro’s 1964 action figure G.I. JoeWar Games, a new exhibit at the V&A Museum of Childhood explores the role of warfare in children’s play.

Toys have served as propaganda tools, entrenching children with militarism and nationalism. For example, did you know that G.I. Joe, “America’s moveable fighting man,” was repackaged in the United Kingdom as Action Man and was so popular that it won UK Toy of the Year in 1966 and UK Toy of the Decade in 1980? Well, as G.I. Joe says in one of his famous public service announcements, “knowing is half the battle!” If you don’t have a trip planned to London before March 9, 2014, visit the exhibit’s website to join the debate, explore the toys, and read visitor comments.

Photo: O.M. Hausser German Toy Soldier Set, c. 1936 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Oc-toy-berfest

LehmannMonkey

In addition to being synonymous with beer and bratwurst, did you know that Germany used to be synonymous with toys too? Germany monopolized the global toy market until World War I. The Lehmann Company was part of the German powerhouse. Founded by Ernst Paul Lehmann in 1881 in Brandenburg, the company produced small, tin toys with strong spring mechanisms that powered fun movements.

As opposed to iron, tin toys were lighter and less expensive. I mean, who wants to play with a dumbbell? Tin also allowed for colorful, lithographed designs that appealed to both boys and girls. We know our climbing monkey is a Lehmann toy because of the maker’s mark on his red hat, and EPL (Ernst Paul Lehmann) 385 and his name (Tom) on the other side. We’re guessing they labeled his hat so he wouldn’t lose it. Tom climbs the string with a gentle pull; relax the string and he’ll climb down. While our Tom doesn’t get much exercise, check out his counterpart’s moves.

The Toy World’s Highest Honor

2013 National Toy Hall of Fame Finalists

It’s the EGOT of the toy world! On October 1, the National Toy Hall of Fame announced the 2013 finalists for induction into the hall: bubbles, chess, Clue, Fisher-Price Little People, little green army men, Magic 8 Ball, My Little Pony, Nerf toys, Pac-Man, rubber duck, scooter, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Only two lucky toys will join the prestigious list of hall of famers.

Although a national selection committee will choose the 2013 inductees, you can cast your vote in the public poll. So far, the 1980s toys are the front-runners… gnarly dude!

Don’t see your favorite toy? Then submit a nomination for 2014. But first, make sure your nominee passes the hall’s rigorous set of criteria: the toy must be widely recognized and respected; it must have longevity, having been enjoyed by generations; it must foster learning, creativity, or discovery; and it has to be innovative, having profoundly changed play or toy design. Does your favorite toy have what it takes?

Photo: Courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York.

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