Toys R Them: Halls of fame combine to celebrate the classics

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The great minds of the toy industry will be honoured alongside their famous creations when the Toy Industry Hall of Fame combines with the National Toy Hall of Fame under a partnership announced Tuesday.

The 5,000-square-foot (464.5-square-meter) National Toy Hall of Fame gallery at the Strong museum in Rochester will undergo $4 million in renovations, with the goal of opening the combined hall in the fall of 2015.

The Toy Industry Hall of Fame, whose inductees have included Milton Bradley, Frederick August Otto Schwarz, Walt Disney and George Lucas, has been without a physical presence for about eight years following the closure of the International Toy Center in New York City.

Leaders of both halls have been talking for some time about combining the two as a way to raise their visibility and exposure and to promote their educational missions.

“With its unique emphasis on the power of play, the Strong is an ideal home for this homage to both the toys that have influenced generations of children and the innovative minds that brought them to life,” Carter Keithley, president of the Toy Industry Association, said at a news conference at the Strong museum, where items like alphabet blocks, roller skates, the Frisbee, Lincoln Logs and the stick occupy places of honour.

The combined halls, with high-tech and hands-on interactive displays, will enable visitors to explore how cultural trends, gender and changing technologies have shaped the design, production and marketing of toys, officials said, including how games like Monopoly and The Game of Life reinforced faith in capitalism and the pursuit of the American dream.

The National Toy Hall of Fame was established in 1998 and accepts nominations from anyone. A national selection committee composed of historians, educators and others choose the annual selections. The Toy Industry Hall of Fame was established in 1985 by the Toy Industry Association and inducts about two people a year from among industry nominees.