The little green army men finally marched into the National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday after being halted at the gate as finalists two other years.
The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame announced the 2014 inductees today: bubbles, little green army men and the Rubik’s Cube. The trio will be joining other classic toys like Barbie, G.I. Joe, Scrabble and the hula hoop after beating nine other finalists including American Girl dolls, My Little Pony and Fisher-Price Little People.
The miniature plastic soldiers have been around since 1938 and represent mid-20th century U.S. Army infantry soldiers. Their popularity dwindled during the Vietnam War but their sales picked up in the 1980s and 1990s, especially after they starred in Pixar’s “Toy Story” films.
The timeless puzzle Rubik’s Cube — twenty-six cubes that are designed to interlock and rotate around an axis that can be shuffled in 43-quintillion ways — was created in 1974 by Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik to demonstrate spatial relations.
More than 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold since it launched in the U.S. in 1980, making it one of the best-selling toys of all time. The toy celebrated its 40th birthday in April with a new exhibit called “Beyond Rubik’s Cube.”
The cubes have been widely popular among people of all age groups and set off organized competitions in more than 50 countries, including solving it blindfolded, one-handed, underwater with one breath, and with one’s feet. According to the Toy Hall of Fame, Mats Valk of the Netherlands set the record by solving the cube in 5.55 seconds.
But perhaps bubbles are the most classic of them all: the earliest paintings of children playing with bubbles appeared during the 17th century in Europe, and London soap maker A. & F. created ads featuring children playing with bubbles in the 19th century. The inexpensive and clean toy sells more than 200 million bottles annually and has become an icon status with children across the world.
So far, 56 toys have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame. In order to get through the preliminary selection committee made up of toy collectors, designers and psychologists, a toy must be timeless through generations, have profoundly changed play or toy design, encourage learning and creativity and have established an iconic status.