Magic 8 Ball, pinball and Uno were inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame on Nov. 8, 2018. (Photo: Courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York.)
Not even the Magic 8 Ball saw this coming.
The fluid-filled orb entrusted to answer such questions as, “Does Amber really like me?” and “What do you mean, ‘Extremely doubtful?’” before shattering on impact, was inducted Thursday into the National Toy Hall of Fame, along with pinball and the Uno card game.
The Magic 8 Ball, which since 1946 has been opening the future to anyone trusting utter randomness to guide them, beat out such notable finalists as chalk and tic-tac-toe to earn a niche in the Toy Hall of Fame.
The honor caps a surprising career for an object rarely picked up after losing its novelty. Most Magic 8 Balls still in existence can be found in the upper-right corner of office desks because it answered, “Signs point to yes” when you asked it, “Would Amanda in HR get mad if I threw out her Christmas gift?”
Joining the Magic 8 Ball in the Toy Hall of Fame is pinball, which had been living a quiet life in various garages-turned-man-caves, and Uno, a card game that to this day refuses to thank Crazy Eights for its success.
In choosing pinball, officials of the Toy Hall of Fame overlooked the modern game’s shady beginnings when players could earn “prizes” with “mad skills” when police were paid off to look the other way. The game was even banned in New York City from the 1940s to 1976.
When asked, “Was pinball treated fairly,” the Magic 8 Ball replied, “My sources say no.” It refused to identify those sources.
Uno goes back to 1971, invented by an Ohio barber who apparently didn’t think Crazy Eights was crazy enough. By exploiting the inherent weakness in any standard deck of playing cards — adding new cards on a whim — Uno was born, ensuring family game nights would go into the wee hours because, what? Another Wild Draw Four? Let’s just call it.
Hits and misses at the Toy Hall of Fame
The Toy Hall of Fame was established in 1998, and its first and largest class featured Barbie, Play-Doh, Tinkertoy, Crayola Crayons, Monopoly, Frisbee, Erector Set, Etch-a-Sketch, Lego, Marbles and the teddy bear.
Despite such a strong original class, there have been some noticeable mistakes, such as 2005’s cardboard box (before Amazon flooded the market) and 2011’s blanket (named for its use as a cape tied haphazardly around necks of running children everywhere).
No doubt countless young girls were disappointed this year that Hall of Fame finalist American Girl doll did not earn induction. The dolls have encouraged imaginative play since their introduction in 1986, as children have imagined what it would be like if their parents could afford an American Girl doll and all the accessories.
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