100 Toys that Define Our Childhood

August 15, 2012


You may have heard me mention the Indianapolis Children’s Museum before, in my write up of MuseumNext where I was so enamoured with their QRpedia project. Well, I’m absolutely in love with their latest project too!

100 Toys that Define Our Childhood (and their Stories) focuses on iconic childhood toys, and don’t we all love ourselves a bit of toy nostalgia?! The museum’s curators have scoured the museum collection of over 120,000 objects and selected a shortlist of 100 iconic toys to represent childhood over the last 100 years. In early September, a display case will be revealed onsite at the museum exhibiting the top 20 objects.

But wait, how do we get from 100 to 20? That’s were the fun part sets in. You get to decide! Since early July, when the shortlist of 100 toys was revealed, the public have been able to vote online for their favourite toys. Voting then continues for 5 weeks, with a different set of 20 toys being highlighted each week, after which the top 20 are revealed. The public then again has the chance to vote over a three week period, this time to rank the top twenty, and when the exhibit goes on display the Bronze, Silver and Gold winners will be revealed.

However, it’s not just through voting that you can get involved. As the museum says on its website, “What makes these toys so significant are the memories and stories we have that make us cherish them.”. The museum is therefore inviting you to share your childhood toy stories. You can also upload photographs to go with your stories, and your story may even be featured on the 100 Toys website. I’m really chuffed to see two of mine up there – on Mr Potato Head and the Transformers – and to be the first international contributor! I still have my “toys of the 80s” collection in a box in the basement (okay, and some in my bedroom too…), including Care Bears (see above^^), Popples, Rainbow Brite dolls and a very impressive My Little Pony collection, so I may squeeze in a few more stories before the deadline.

But apart from the fun of taking part, what I think is really great about this project is the opportunities it offers for intergenerational exchange. What better way to get parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children talking together than to reminisce together about your favourite toys. As the museum puts it, 100 Toys that Define Our Childhood uses “iconic objects from the museum’s collection to encourage inter-generational story-sharing and foster discussion about the role that toys play in our childhood learning experiences and the importance that our memories of these toys plays throughout our lives.” Judging by the number of stories featured on the website so far, it’s proving really popular.

You still have two days left (until 17th August) to vote for your favourite toys out of the 100 shortlist – who will make the top 20? Will G.I. Joe and Barbie keep their lead? Will My Little Pony and Care Bears manage to inch their way up in time? (can I vote for them again?) And what about Mr Potato head? I can hardly stand the suspense!


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