THE BORN LESAR
Yahtzee the clear choice for Toy Hall induction
In what has now officially developed into an annual tradition that I'm guessing you look forward to as much as having wax buildup blown out of your ears, it's time for me to do my annual lobbying for the National Toy Hall of Fame induction. This year, I'm throwing my full weight (best not be standing too near) behind a nominee that not only gave me hours of youthful pleasure, but enhanced my math skills to the point where my junior high teacher no longer considered leaving her profession to join the circus. Too bad. I think she'd have made a fine bearded lady.
With no further adieu then, 'cuz I really don't have that much adieu left, my vote for the 2020 National Toy Hall of Fame goes to Yahtzee. I know, I know, it's not a sexy choice, but I needed to take this route to show you I'm not just about Barbie dolls and Mr. Potato Head. Well, sure, I enjoy changing the little dresses and switching eyeballs with ears and all, but I have a deeper intellect, too, and have been known to select a tricky board game over a less cerebral toy. Unless it's an Easy-Bake Oven. Daddy likes his brownies.
Last year you might recall that I successfully pushed Matchbox Cars to their rightful spot in the Toy Hall. The year before I wasn't so fortunate, as my pick that year -- Elmo -didn't make the cut. Yeah, I know, go figure. He's cute, he's cuddly, he's bright red, he makes noise --what more could you want in a toy? I still think Cookie Monster had something to do with it. Jealous little blue ba-----.
I must say, the 2020 field of inductees is weak. While the Toy Hall website boasts that the 12 nominees 'represent the wide scope of playthings,' any field that includes sidewalk chalk, as this one does, has to be considered flimsy. Really? Sidewalk chalk? The stuff washes away after one rainfall. Might as well go with spray paint if it's cement graffiti we're after.
The other nominees are Baby Nancy, bingo, Breyer Horses, Jenga, Lite-Brite, Masters of the Universe, My Little Pony, Risk, Sorry!, and Tamagotchi. See, told you, that's more pathetic than the herd of Zombie Democrats that stumbled into Iowa last winter, and I gotta say, if Elmo was up this year, he'd be a shoe-in. I mean, My Little Pony, are you serious? That's purely a girly thing. Any boy I ever knew who would've been caught with a purple plastic unicorn would've been strung up on the football field goal post by his sneaker laces.
Lite-Brite is a respectable choice, at least, and I personally have purchased a few of these for children on my gift shopping lists through the years. In case you don't remember it, Lite-Brite is a board with a light behind it and you stick little clear colored pegs into holes to create illuminated designs. Most kids make flowers or clown faces, but when I was a kid I'd take my Lite-Brite up into the attic and map out Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. No wonder my parents didn't give me any sugar after 6 p.m.
Truth be told, I had to look up Tamagotchi. Turns out it's an interactive virtual pet --whatever that is -- and you can feed it, clean up after it, help it make friends, etc. Sounds to me like a cat, for which you don't need batteries. Case closed.
Given the anemic field, it was easy to throw my considerable clout behind Yahtzee. When I was a teen, me and my family would play it for hours, rolling the dice, yelping when we'd toss a large straight, and adding up our score sheets to see who ruled. Every now and then somebody would get two Yahtzees (5 of a kind) in a single game, and, man, those bonus points were tough to beat.
It's interesting that this year's induction field has three games (Risk and Sorry!), which may be a sign that most of what we consider iconic 'toys' have already been inducted. There have been 71 items inducted since the Hall began in 1998, after all, so there is bound to come a time when some lesser nominees get in. I mean, just think about it, in the first year the inductees were nothing less than powerhouses such as the Barbie Doll, Crayola Crayons, the Etch-ASketch and the frisbee, and now we're down to products as pitiful as Masters of the Universe. That one was nominated last year and the year before and still hasn't gotten in. I mean, cripes, even Hillary Clinton knew enough to stop embarrassing herself.
I would almost suggest to the owners of the Toy Hall -- which is located in Rochester, N.Y., by the way -- that they consider if not capping the total number of entrants, then at least establishing a strong enough criteria to keep unworthy toys from getting in just to fill a year's quota. In 2011, for example, they inducted the blanket. I mean, c'mon, if the only standard for allowing a new inductee is because kids puke up on it and wipe their noses with it, what's the point anymore? Of course, as with anything else subjective, there will always be those who say the choices are right and those who say pish-posh. Me? I love some of the Hall of Famers, such as the G.I. Joe (2004), Hot Wheels (2011), Lionel Trains (2006), Little Green Army Men (2014), and Play-Doh (1998). Those are classics, American icons of toys, if you will, and millions of kids spent countless hours with them. Some of the other inductees I'm not so thrilled with -- Dungeons and Dragons (2016) and the Nintendo Game Boy (2009) -- come to mind, but to each their own. I can understand why each of the 71 entries is so honored in the Hall, although I must question why Raggedy Ann made it in 2002 but Raggedy Andy had to wait five more years. Sounds like a little feminine favoritism to me. Makes you wonder what little innocent Annie did to get her place on the shelf.
This year's new inductees will not be announced until Nov. 5, by which time this country will either have a new president and/ or a former one who's locked himself into the Oval Office bathroom and refuses to come out. Surely, the National Toy Hall of Fame selection won't be the biggest news of that week, but I'll still be watching and pulling for Yahtzee to make it in.
Next year, though -- and you're among the first to be hearing this -- I'm back on the Elmo train. I just can't rest until my furry little friend has his rightful place alongside the Fisher-Price Little People.