Can you believe bubbles made Toy Hall of Fame? (ThinkStock)
Can you believe bubbles made Toy Hall of Fame?

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It's mission accomplished for little green army men.

The plastic pretend soldiers have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame along with the 1980s stumper Rubik's Cube, and soap bubbles.

The trio of toys takes its place alongside other classics including Barbie, G.I. Joe, Scrabble and the hula hoop. They beat out nine other finalists including Fisher-Price Little People, American Girl dolls and My Little Pony.

The tiny green army pieces have been around since 1938. Their popularity waned during the Vietnam War. But they became big-screen stars with the 1995 Pixar movie "Toy Story." Several manufacturers continue to produce millions of them every year.

"Over the years, these toys have remained popular because they are lightweight, simple to transport in buckets or pails, fun to blow up, easy to replace," said curator Patricia Hogan. She noted how some were inevitably melted under a magnifying glass in the sun. "But most of all because they inspire open-ended play."

The army men were finalists two other years before making the cut this time around. That should offer hope to this year's runners-up. Those include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Slip 'N Slide, the skill game Operation, paper airplanes, pots and pans, and the toy trucks sold annually since 1964 by the Hess gas station chain.

The brain-teasing Rubik's Cube was invented by Hungarian architect Erno Rubik in the 1970s. It became popular in the United States in 1980 after being imported by Ideal Toy Corp. More than 100 million of the six-color cubes were sold between 1980 and 1982.

The cubes, with nine colored squares on each side, can be arranged 43 quintillion ways, according to the Toy Hall of Fame. They have inspired organized competitions in more than 50 countries. There are also contests to solve it blindfolded, one-handed and under water. Mats Valk of the Netherlands holds the speed record for re-aligning the colors in 5.55 seconds.

Children have played with soap bubbles since at least the 17th century, according to the toy hall, when paintings depicting the play appeared in what is now modern-day Belgium. Now, more than 200 million bottles of bubble liquid are sold annually.

Bubbles got the nod as a toy of the imagination, spokesman Shane Rhinewald said. It's listed alongside similar previous inductees including the stick and blanket.

Hogan, who curates the toy hall inside The Strong museum in Rochester, New York, noted the staying power of the decidedly low-tech toys in this year's class. The simpler the toy, the more ways children find to use them.

"The toys that do all the laughing or singing or moving for you don't offer the child as much room to use his imagination," she said.

A national selection committee made up of 24 experts vote the winners in to the hall each year. The experts include toy collectors, designers and psychologists. Anyone can nominate a toy. But to make it through the preliminary selection process and become a finalist a toy must have achieved icon status. That means it has survived through generations, foster learning, creativity or discovery and have profoundly changed play or toy design.

"All kinds of stuff gets nominated," curator Nicolas Ricketts said. "People have nominated dirt, sofa cushions. Anything that someone has played with and had a good time with might end up being nominated."

Critical thinking challenge: If you were to submit a toy to the Toy Hall of Fame what would you choose and why?

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  • WV2001TacoBelll
    11/12/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    I think its just for marketing the toys just make hess more of a household name that can promote the sell of their gas products

  • ma2000dragonball
    11/12/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    They sell them probably because of two reasons, one reason because they just want to have stuff for their kids so the they can be entertained with them. The second reason is that hat kids can so this to their parents and they can go to the gas station.

  • JH2001skate
    11/12/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    hess the gas station sold trucks because they wanted a new way to promote themselves. Now instead of a billboard they could have one of their toy trucks in many homes.

  • wpapril30
    11/12/2014 - 01:09 p.m.

    I think they make a big profit out of it . But I wonder if these gasoline truck are for fun or just a collection and sell the truck toy that you save.

  • andrea26
    11/12/2014 - 02:40 p.m.

    I didn't know that the little green army men were invented in 1938. I also did not know that there was a toy hall of fame and that the bubbles got nominated. This is really interesting.

  • GabiD1
    11/12/2014 - 04:58 p.m.

    There is a big contest for toys to be in the hall of fame. This year the rubiks cube, green army men, and soap bubbles. The runners up include my little pony, little people, american girl dolls, teenage mutant ninja turtles, slip 'n slid, operation, paper planes, and pots and pans. I think it is cool how they have a hall of fame for toys.

  • Eriku2
    11/12/2014 - 08:15 p.m.

    This article is about how bubbles, little green army man and the rubics cube made it to the toy hall of fame. Also scrable barbie G.I Joe and the hoola hoop also made it. American Dolls and my little pony also made it. I think this is interserting because i dint even know there was a toy hall of fame

    11/12/2014 - 09:01 p.m.

    I think it is cool how they have a hall of fame for toys.
    There is a big contest for toys to be in the hall of fame. This year the rubiks cube, green army men, and soap bubbles. The runners up include my little pony, little people, american girl dolls, teenage mutant ninja turtles, slip 'n slid, operation, paper planes, and pots and pans.

  • John0724-YYCA
    11/12/2014 - 09:16 p.m.

    I think that this hall of fame was a very good competition because i knew a lot of girly girls and babies buy bubbles these days and some nerds and other people has a rubix cube but I don't know about the tiny green army men. Well i did saw them in the movie toy story but I never see a person carrying a tiny green army man. Well if it says it is famous I can't change that because that if that is famous it is famous. CRITICAL THINKING CHALLENGE : I f you were to submit a toy to the hall of fame what would you choose and why? ANSWER : I would have chose the rubix cube because I have known that rubix cube since I was small and it is fun to play with.

  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    11/12/2014 - 09:36 p.m.

    I think that this is weird because these little army people are older than bubbles. Bubbles are younger and they are little stupid things that kids blow. I think that having these people do this to a toy that even isn't a toy is wrong. I think that they should change the toy of the the hall of fame and change it into that little army figures. I hope that bubbles aren't going to be in the toy hall of fame because bubbles are a toy that can make kids kill themselves. When the kids are chasing the bubbles, they might hit something or they might fall off a cliff and hurt themselves really bad. I hope that the person who made bubbles the toy of hall of fame change the toy into something that someone likes and something that every kid likes. I hope that when they change the toy, I hope that they change it into something that is reasonable and something that can be a toy of the future.

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