They are playfully called the “forgotten five”: A handful of toys — the pogo stick, the Fisher-Price Corn Popper, My Little Pony, PEZ dispensers, and Transformers — that regularly approach toybox royalty as finalists for the National Toy Hall of Fame, only to be tossed back on the pile.
For one of them, this is the year they finally make it in. The Hall of Fame is letting fans decide which one.
Toys usually are chosen for the annual induction ceremony with input from a panel of historians, educators and other experts. The members vote for their top three out of a dozen finalists that have been selected by an internal committee from among thousands of nominations that come in each year.
But this year, fan voters will pick one of the so-called forgotten five, to celebrate the National Toy Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary. That’s along with three toys to be chosen in the usual way.
“They’re like Susan Lucci was to the Emmy Awards, or Steve Tasker to the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” chief curator Christopher Bensch said. “Now, one of these five will make the hall and, for the first time, it will be purely in the hands of the voting public.”
Fans can cast one vote per day through Oct. 24 on the National Toy Hall of Fame website.
The winner, along with the other inductees, will be revealed during the induction ceremony on Nov. 9.
Anyone can nominate a toy to the National Toy Hall of Fame. But to be considered, toys must have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period of time. Last year, the spinning top, Masters of the Universe action figures and Lite-Brite joined past honorees that range from scrounged items like the stick and cardboard box, to store-bought toys that everyone seemed to have, including the Wiffle Ball, alphabet blocks and the teddy bear.
The Fisher-Price Corn Popper, a push toy with colorful balls, has been a repeat finalist for encouraging babies who are learning to walk. My Little Pony mini horses are in the running after outselling even Barbie for several years while at the height of their popularity between 1982 and 1993, according to the Hall of Fame.
PEZ went from being a breath mint to candy bricks served from pop culture-inspired dispensers in 1948. Today, PEZ sells 3 billion individual candies each year and keeps about 60 or 70 dispensers in production, the Hall of Fame said. The pogo stick has kept users bouncing nonstop since it was first patented in the early 1900s. Hasbro’s shape-shifting Transformers action figures also have been in the finals more than once after inspiring comic books, cartoons, and a continuing series of live-action blockbuster films, two of which made more than $1 billion each.
The three other toys to be honored will be chosen from 12 finalists announced last month. The nominees are baseball cards, Battleship, bingo, Bop It, Cabbage Patch Kids, Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks, Connect 4, Little Tykes Cozy Coupe, Nerf, slime, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken.
The National Toy Hall of Fame is located inside The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.