Silly Putty, Tonka trucks inducted in Toy Hall of Fame

Thursday, March 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SALEM, Ore. (AP) _ A World War II scientist was looking for ways to produce synthetic rubber when, by accident, he invented a classic American toy.

The pinkish, stretchy stuff that became known as Silly Putty, along with Tonka trucks, were inducted Wednesday into the National Toy Hall of Fame. The toys join such previous inductees as the Barbie Doll, Frisbee and Mr. Potato Head.

Baby boomer Judy Hillman remembers using Silly Putty to lift images from the Sunday comics.

``It kept your hands busy,'' Hillman said while touring the Toy Hall of Fame at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village in Salem.

Silly Putty still has wide appeal. Toy company Binney & Smith makes more than 6 million plastic eggs filled with the stuff each year.

``People buy it because it's fun and cheap and kind of goofy,'' said Chris Byrne, a toy industry analyst. ``I have a big wad of it on my desk that I play with when I'm stressed.''

Silly Putty and Tonka trucks were chosen by a panel of educators and civic leaders for providing enjoyment and creative playtime for American youngsters for years.

The Tonka brand's distinctive metal trucks first were marketed in 1947. More than 250 million of the trucks have been sold since then.

``Kids love going to construction sites and watching the work,'' Byrne said. ``It's very empowering for the kids when they can replicate that in the sandbox.''