Jenga named inventors’ pick for the top toy or game of the past 70 years

Jenga, BTHA, British Toy & Hobby Association, London Toy Fair, Leslie Scott, Casey Norman, Michaël Goncalves, Roland Earl

Jenga has come out on top in a survey of the global toy and game inventor community’s favourite launches of the past 70 years.

The study – involving over 100 members of the global toy inventor community – was carried out by the British Toy & Hobby Association and Mojo Nation to celebrate 70 years of London Toy Fair. As such, inventors had to choose products that were launched in the past seven decades that they wished they had invented.

Jenga came out on top, followed by Polly Pocket in second and Dobble in third.

“To receive such an honour from fellow designers would have been beyond my wildest dreams when I launched Jenga at the 1983 London Toy Fair,” said Jenga inventor Leslie Scott, adding: “In truth, to receive it 41 years later astonishes me still!”

Voters called Jenga “a masterpiece of sophisticated design” and “purity personified”, while one inventor said: “The idea that 54 simple blocks of wood can be configured in such a way that’s created drama and amusement for millions and millions of people… Well, it’s a 3D miracle!”

Second placed Polly Pocket was first launched by Bluebird Toys, founded by Sir Torquil Norman. His son, Genie Toys Founder Casey Norman, said: “It’s wonderful that so many have chosen Polly Pocket. But actually, it comes as no surprise to me. Anyone who has ever been involved on the design or invention side for Polly knows that the brand is a treasure trove for creativity and an amazing platform for innovation. My father will be so pleased to hear about the enthusiasm that still surrounds Polly Pocket.”

One voter said: “I love the way Polly Pocket took a classic dolls’ house play pattern and literally put it in a girl’s pocket – it represents the holy grail of toy invention.”

Elsewhere, third-placed Dobble was described by inventors as “A modern classic”.

Commenting on Dobble making the top three, Michaël Goncalves – SVP of Social Games & Head of Studio Zygomatic at Asmodee – said: “It’s such a unique, fun and magical game, played all over the world by families, children and friends. The success is huge – Dobble has sold over 37 million units since launch. As a publisher, to see Dobble become a toy or game that inventors would have liked to create is a real achievement and I’m very proud to be part of the list!”

The top 10 picks were as follows:

1. Jenga (1983)
2. Polly Pocket (1989)
3. Dobble (2009)
4. Twister (1966)
5. Tamagotchi (1996)
6. Kenner’s Star Wars Action Figures (1978)
7. Rubik’s Cube (1980)
8. UNO (1971)
9. Bop It (1996)
10. Codenames (2015)

“It was great that both classics and modern classics made the top 10 – and that the top three happened to be inventor items is a welcome reminder of the vital role this community plays in our industry,” said Mojo Nation’s Billy Langsworthy.

“What a fun way to celebrate 70 years of the London Toy Fair – here’s to the next 70!”

Director General of the BTHA, Roland Earl, added: “It is wonderful to take a view from such a valued group of creative people as to toys and games they wished they had invented. Creativity is the lifeblood of our amazing industry and great products with great design and enjoyment for all ages are what we are all about. As Billy says, here’s to the next 70!”

For those visiting Toy Fair 2024, a display of the top 10 choices will be located on the Toy Trust Lounge, stand UL 161.

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