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Toy Hall of Fame

  • After the "Back to Sleep" campaign to prevent SIDS in the early 90's, Learning Curve introduced this padded mirror toy for tummy time, so babies could develop their neck and arm muscles. 15 years later, it remains popular for this reason, too: babies are fascinated by their reflections. And moms love it because it can be used on the floor, or attached to a stroller or crib with Velcro straps. (Learning Curve, $24.99, learningcurve.com)

  • Remember the hoopla over the creation of Tickle-Me-Elmo back in 1996? Since then, Sesame Street's most popular puppet has had more reinventions than Madonna, including his most recent one: Elmo Live. His mouth moves, and so does the rest of his body. He's so popular, we're sure Elmo will outlast us all. ($60, Fisher-Price, toysrus.com)

  • When its inventors were initially developing it over forty years ago, they used regular old S-hooks to hook onto each other. Thankfully, they got down to monkey business! Since then, this game is a prechool classic, helping kids develop color recognition, counting, and fine motor skills. ($4, Milton Brothers, hasbrotoyshop.com)

  • No credit.

    This game of sweet revenge got its start in England over 70 years ago, and has been made into dozens of languages and sold all over the world. Like Elmo, it's had many versions over the years, including a Spiderman edition, but the original remains a family night staple. ($16, Parker Bros., hasbrotoyshop.com)

  • No credit.

    A lasting symbol of the '80s, this brain-stumper was invented by a Hungarian architect named Erno Rubik. There are international competitions (the fastest record is 7.08 seconds!), and even diamond-encrusted varieties. We say: hand a regular ol' one to your kid, and he'll be busy for hours! ($12, Winning Moves Games, amazon.com)

  • This friendly-faced lovely has been a favorite among sleep-deprived moms since it was first introduced by Hasbro in 1983. With a soft squeeze, it lights up, soothing babies to slumber. Over the years, different version have hit the market, including Storytime Gloworm, Bedtime Blessing Glowowrm, and today's basic model (which plays lullabies) -- but all retain that original glow. (Hasbro, $10; hasbro.com)

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  • The shiny red chrome three-wheeler with snazzy tasseled handlebars was introduced more than 100 years ago but eventually discontinued. Luckily, in 1999 Radio Flyer brought back the iconic version we know and love (albeit tassle-free), prompting a wave of nostalgia and a new reason to get outdoors with the kids. (Radio Flyer, $56; radioflyer.com)

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  • There's nothing saccharine about Candy Land's origins: It was invented in the 1940s as a pastime for kids bedridden with polio. Fortunately, the dreaded disease is now history in America -- but the game it inspired is still as fresh as a warm square of marshmallow fudge. (Milton Bradley, $9; hasbro.com/games)

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  • We can thank a few smashed windows and irate neighbors for this summertime staple. David Mullany created the perforated plastic balls and plastic bats back in 1953 so his 12-year-old son and his buddies could go play in the backyard without wreaking havoc. The game got its trademark name because the kids called the striking out "whiffing"; Mullany dropped the h to save money on his first sign. (The Wiffle Ball, Inc., $4; wiffle.com)

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  • When Ideal presented its innovative new game, designed by the cartoonist Rube Goldberg, at the 1963 Toy Fair, it was seen as a risk. Would kids find the premise -- catching pests -- amusing? The answer: a resounding yes. The revolutionary 3-D board, as well as the intricate way in which the pieces are assembled, made Mouse Trap a surprise hit. (Milton Bradley, $17; hasbro.com/games)

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    Email us to nominate your family's favorite toy.

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