Throughout October, Kidscreen is taking peek at each of this year’s 12 nominees for the Toy Hall of Fame. Located within the Strong Museum in Rochester, NY, the Toy Hall of Fame has the most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls and video games in the world. Among its inductees are Lego, jump rope and dominoes. Today, we look at number 11: Rubik’s Cube.
There are 43 quintillion ways to scramble a Rubik’s Cube. (Well, if we’re being precise, there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 ways.) No wonder when Erno Rubik invented the puzzle toy in 1974, it took him more than a month to figure out how to solve it.
The Hungarian architecture professor was simply looking for a more interesting way to teach his students about spatial relationships. Forty years later, his creation is the bestselling toy of all time with more than 350 million of the colorful cubes sold.
The original puzzle has spawned many variations, including Rubik’s Twists and Towers, touch cubes for the visually impaired, apps and the Rubik’s 360 Ball.
“It takes what a jigsaw puzzle does in two dimensions and takes it to a third dimension,” says Christopher Bensch, chief curator of the Strong Museum. “It’s you against the cube.”
But few can deny that the cube has caused its fair share of frustration over the past four decades. Perhaps that’s one reason why, despite being a five-time finalist, Rubik’s Cube has yet to be inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame.
“If you’re like me, you’re really bad at Rubik’s Cube,” says Bensch. “I’ve heard more than a few stories about people who scrambled it up, couldn’t figure it out and then started picking the colored decals off to put them on the different sides. If I can’t twist it back into shape, at least I can glue the stickers back in the right color order on each side.”
The three main criteria for induction into the hall of fame are (1) longevity, (2) recognition or icon status, and (3) encourage learning, creativity and discovery. This year’s other 11 nominees are: American Girl dolls, bubbles, Fisher Price Little People, Hess toy trucks, Little Green Army Men, My Little Pony, Operation, paper airplane, pots and pans, Slip ‘N Slide and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The two inductees for 2014 will be announced on November 6.