A simple stick changes into a hand gear, a bat, a flute, a magic wand, a medieval knight’s sword, a fishing rod or a slingshot with a rubber band, shaping up to anything and everything that your imagination allows.
This is why the humble stick has made it to the US’ National Toy Hall of Fame in New York as the most fascinating toy, a universal plaything powered by a child’s imagination. As many as 35,000 Americans wrote to nominate new exhibits for 2008, of which three were selected: the Baby Doll, the skateboard and the stick.
A small selection of wooden sticks will now be displayed in the museum. In terms of all-purpose simplicity, the museum previously inducted one similar item — the cardboard box — in 2005. Curators said the stick was a special addition in the spirit of the 2005 inductee.
They praised its all-purpose, no-cost, recreational qualities, noting its ability to serve either as raw material or an appendage transformed in myriad ways by a child’s creativity. “It’s very open-ended, all-natural, the perfect price—there aren’t any rules or instructions for its use,” said Christopher Bensch, the museum’s curator of collections. While dolls have been around since ancient times, the baby doll with its realistic newborn features emerged in the late 18th century and has been through hundreds of incarnations.
Today’s models can crawl, drink and even talk via voice-activated commands, said Susan Asbury, an associate curator. The first skateboarders in the 1950s cruised walkways on California beaches trying to match the speed, turns and tricks performed by surfers. “Apart from being fun, it also promotes individualism and artistic expression,” skateboard icon Tony Hawk said at the induction ceremony.