American Girl Dolls, board game Risk, and universal plaything sand are the 2021 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductees. They were chosen from a field of 12 finalists that also included Battleship, billiards, Cabbage Patch Kids, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Mahjong, Masters of the Universe, piñata, the Settlers of Catan, and toy fire engine.
Created in 1986 by educator Pleasant Rowland, the 18-inch American Girl dolls—and their accompanying books—explore America’s social and cultural history. Each historical doll comes with a unique narrative that fits her era, such as Molly McIntire, who is waiting for her father to return home from World War II. American Girl released the Truly Me 18-inch contemporary doll line in 1995 (originally under the name American Girl Today) to help girls express their individuality and build confidence.
American Girl Dolls are profiled on The Strong Museum of Play blog:
Following a visit to historic Williamsburg, Virginia, and a Christmas shopping trip for her nieces, educator and newscaster Pleasant Rowland pondered, “Here I am, in a generation of women at the forefront of redefining women’s roles, and yet our daughters are playing with dolls that celebrate being a teen queen or mommy.” Rowland spent a weekend creating a concept intended to redefine how girls interacted with their playthings, and in 1986, she launched a new line of 18-inch dolls—American Girl dolls—representing an era of America’s past paired with rich historical narratives and accurate reproductions of accessories and clothing….
Based on the French game Le Conquete du Monde, Risk translates the hobby of wargaming with miniature figures into a mass-produced war and strategy board game. First published in the United States in 1959, Risk challenges players to control armies and conquer the world. The game’s innovative mechanics ignited renewed interest in strategy games in the 1970s and continues to influence the board game industry.
Sand may be the most universal and oldest toy in the world. Educator Maria Montessori has argued that sand “is only one substance that the modern child is allowed to handle quite freely.” Children recognize sand as a creative material suitable for pouring, scooping, sieving, raking, and measuring. Wet sand is even better, ready for kids to construct, shape, and sculpt. Sand provides unique opportunities for tactical, physical, cooperative, creative, and independent free play.
The National Toy Hall of Fame® at The Strong, established in 1998, recognizes toys that have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period. Each year, the hall inducts new honorees and showcases both new and historic versions of classic toys beloved by generations.
[Based on a press release.]