Last year, the following toys were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum located in Rochester, NY: soap bubbles, little green army men and the Rubik’s cube. The Strong Museum has one of the largest collection of toys, board games, dolls, video and electronic games worldwide.
To date, 56 toys have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, which was established in 1998. Some of the other interesting inductees into the Toy Hall of Fame include the Rubber Duck, the stick (yes!), the cardboard box, the game of chess, Hot Wheels toy cars, the doll house, Star Wars action figures and dominoes. Anyone can nominate a toy to the National Toy Hall of Fame. Final selections are made on the advice of a panel of judges made up of historians, educators and others in the field of play.
This prompted me to consider how vintage toys are repurposed into new and true art forms. I found some pretty interesting collaborative efforts, mainly in the areas of craft, fashion, art and jewelry design.
Crayola crayon and colored pencil necklaces are the result of a designer using a pre-fab necklace, rope or chain link to string through a group of pre-drilled crayons or pencils to make a colorful necklace. Colored pencils can also be chopped up and strung in the manner of small scale beads to make bracelets, necklaces, etc.
Another unusual toy-inspired work of art are Lego toys that have been made into high fashion, ultra pricey couture and jewelry pieces. For instance, the Chanel clutch purse ranges from $9,900 to $11,000. These Chanel purses are true works of art, hence the price tag. The purses come in bright colors just like original Lego building blocks and feature geometric shapes. Since their introduction, the Chanel Lego purse has been seen in the hands of some of today’s trendy celeb-fashionistas like Rihanna, Dakota Fanning and Kim Kardashian.
Purses are not the only Lego-inspired artwork out there. The Smithsonian Institution’s annual Craft2Wear event featured jewelry using Lego blocks. Actual Lego blocks are strung together into necklaces, earrings and bracelets by several designers the world over. Some are enhanced with sterling silver, set precious stones and gold leaf.
If you are a gamer, then consider keeping your spare change in — or spending your spare change on — a PlayStation wallet. Inspired by Sony’s best-selling video game console introduced in 1994, the PlayStation wallet is modeled after the look of the original PlayStation and like some of their games, the wallet is hand-held.
Beanie baby purses featuring stuffed animals turned pocketbooks still focus on the famous “Ty” tag and animals with clever names like Beary Bag (bear) and Hutch Clutch (rabbit).
And, lastly, in the world of high fashion, shoes are at the forefront of today’s trends. There is no playing around when it comes to a woman’s shoe closet. I have a pretty serious shoe collection myself. Toys have inspired some pretty innovative high heels like the erector set shoes designed by Jimmy Choo. Just as erector sets prompted children to build miniature skyscrapers, you will be soaring from your ankles to your toes on these urban-inspired Choo shoes.
Lastly, Anna Wintour’s book, “Manolo Blahnik Drawings,” highlight the designs of Manolo Blahnik. You can see the wit and whimsy — some of it coming from toys — in the luscious designs of his “just can’t live without” shoe creations.
Who knows … maybe during 2016 Fashion Week, we will see the introduction of Rubik’s cube knee high boots, little green army men earrings and soap bubble wand barrettes and hair bands.