What about electric football?
It’s Christmas Eve, and that means the attention of a large number of area residents will be turned toward thoughts of toys.
For the younger readers among us, that probably means a heightened sense of anticipation, as the arrival of Santa Claus gets closer. For the adults, that likely means a couple of things: One, the search for that elusive must-have present is still under way, and two, the process of putting together a complicated purchase awaits.
Wherever on the toy spectrum you find yourself, it’s good to remember that toys play an important role in the lives of just about everyone. The cost and complexity seem to grow greater as we get older, but the enjoyment and learning opportunities toys present are something that’s as important to a 60-year-old as it is to a 6-year-old.
A reminder came a little more than a month ago, when the National Toy Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2017. The hall, which is located inside the Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y., opened in 1998, and in that time there have been more than 60 toys enshrined as being the best of all time.
Only three toys made the cut this year — the Wiffle Ball, the paper airplane and the board game Clue.
Each is a solid choice, and most of the people involved in an informal survey said that they had a tough time arguing with those selections as being worthy of enshrinement.
According to the museum, anyone can nominate a toy for consideration for the hall, with the final selections made by a panel that includes historians, educators and other individuals who exemplify learning, creativity and discovery through their lives and careers. There’s a simple criteria — each honoree must have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity during a long period of time.
By any measure, this year’s selections stand up to that standard very well. While no one is sure who invented the first paper airplane, the lessons about design and aerodynamics that can be learned from the simple act of folding a sheet of paper have been inspiring us for quite some time.
It’s a simple toy that can offer complex lessons — just like the Wiffle Ball, which has slots on only one side. Those cuts allow just about anyone to throw a slider or a mean curve that rivals the best you can find in Major League Baseball, something the humble plastic sphere has been doing for more than 60 years.
Clue, meanwhile, is the classic murder-mystery that, in addition to being a fun way to spend some time, helps to encourage logical thinking. Plus, there are 324 different scenarios, which means you’re almost guaranteed of a new experience every time you play the game.
Choosing this year’s inductees was a very difficult task. The nominees included the PEZ candy dispenser, play food, Transformers, My Little Pony, the Magic 8 Ball, the card game Uno, the board game Risk, sand and Matchbox cars.
Matchbox cars are, in my estimation, among the most glaring omissions to the hall, especially when you consider that their chief rival — Hot Wheels — has been in the hall since 2011. The two fought a long battle for supremacy in the die-cast model car business, with Mattel, which launched Hot Wheels in the 1960s, ending up in control of both brands in 1997 after a series of mergers and bankruptcies.
Another glaring omission is electric football. The plastic football players who do battle on the vibrating metal field have accounted for countless hours of enjoyment. It’s still a hit — and, according to Christopher Borrelli’s piece “For Electric Football fans, the buzz never faded” that appeared in the Feb. 3 edition of the Chicago Tribune, fans each year lobby the toy hall for its induction. Sadly, we’re still waiting for the game to take its rightful place among the best toys of all time.
There’s no doubt some of today’s toys will be headed to enshrinement at the Strong somewhere down the road and that, decades from now, discussions will continue about those that have never been selected. Try not to get so caught up in those thoughts that you forget to enjoy the day and the time spent with a favorite toy.
Merry Christmas, my friends.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)