TIME Appreciation

Florida Crocheter Helps Kids Beat Cancer in Style

Unraveled by Samantha Dawn Samantha Mutschler with one of her hat recipients

She spends as much time and money as she can creating colorful and cozy hats for them.

Samantha Mutschler has turned her hobby into a way to help others.

The West Orange, Florida, resident spends as much time and money as she can creating colorful and cozy hats for children fighting cancer, reports the West Orange Times & Observer.

Mutschler’s mission to cover the head of every young cancer patient began when her family friend, Katie Karp, was diagnosed with bone cancer. Wanting to comfort the 12-year-old in some way, Mutschler, 24, decided to make a blanket for the girl. The creation was such a hit that soon Mutschler was being asked to make wraps for the patients of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children through Katie’s Kause, a nonprofit set up by Karp’s family that works to keep kids with cancer optimistic.

Wanting to give more to the children she was cheering up, Mutschler began crocheting in 2011, making simple hats to include with her blankets. In a few months Mutschler had created her own cancer support program, Unraveled by Samantha Dawn, and was taking requests from young patients and their families for hats.

From SpongeBob SquarePants to sharks, she has crocheted beanies featuring all kinds of characters and animals, with Disney princesses being a big favorite. Mutschler has donated more than 160 of her hats so far, sending some as far as Holland and Australia.

Mutschler is willing to add and alter any details a child desires in order to make their hat perfect for them. To add even more magic to her gifts, she often makes care packages with stuffed animals and dolls to send along with her hats.

Mutschler is currently working on turning this passion project into a nonprofit, and she has a GoFundMe page to help support her drive to bring smiles to young cancer patients.

“It brings joy to them; it brings joy to me,” Mutschler said. “I know I’m doing what God wants me to do. My dream is to one day see a team of ladies working for me in getting more hats out to these precious warriors.”

If you would like to commission a hat from Mutschler or donate to her work, visit Unraveled by Samantha Dawn’s Facebook page.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Appreciation

Watch The Matrix Lobby-Fight Scene Re-Enacted With Legos

A Redditor spent at least 160 hours re-creating this scene

Matrix franchise aficionados and Lego geeks can revel in a new YouTube re-enactment of the famous lobby-fight sequence from the original 1999 sci-fi action film. Shot scene-for-scene with Legos plastic toys, Reddit user Snooperking animated every minute detail from Trinity running up walls and Neo cartwheeling while volleys of plastic bullets knock cubic chunks out of the walls.

On Reddit, Snooperking said he toiled for approximately 160 hours to re-enact the iconic scene over three months. “I could only do like up to two hours a day before I got sick of it and had to play Battlefield,” Snooperking said. He selected the complex fight sequence to challenge himself to improve his animation skills, after creating a Star Wars Lego video in 2014.

To get a sense of the sheer patience required to reconstruct the Matrix scene with plastic Legos, Snooperking also offers a behind-the-scene video.

TIME Music

Remembering Lesley Gore, a ’60s Queen of Teen Angst

Photo of Lesley Gore
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images Lesley Gore circa 1970.

With "It's My Party," "Judy's Turn to Cry" and the anthemic "You Don't Own Me," the nice girl from New Jersey sold songs of despair, revenge and defiance to pre-Beatles America

The nice Jewish girl matriculated directly from the Dwight School for Girls in Englewood, N.J., to Sarah Lawrence College. She never took a year off in her education because, as she sensibly noted at the time, “It would be very foolish of me to leave school to go into such an unpredictable field on a full-time basis.” Lesley Gore’s part-time field was pop singer, and in her brief but urgent prime she was the Queen of Teen Angst.

She endured heartbreak as a birthday girl betrayed by her beau in “It’s My Party,” savored revenge in the sequel “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and belted the proto-feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me.” Those three songs, all recorded in 1963, still held an honored place in America’s pop-cultural jukebox on Monday, when her long-time partner, jewelry designer Lois Sasson, announced Gore’s death of lung cancer, at 68.

Daughter of a swimwear manufacturer, Lesley Sue Goldstein was born May 2, 1946, in Brooklyn and raised in Tenafly, N.J. Her music teacher made some demos that got to Quincy Jones, then a fledgling producer at Mercury Records. The man with the golden ear heard a soprano that could segue from adolescent to womanly in a single phrase and saw pretty, dimpled girl coiffed in the era’s mandatory bouffant helmet. Now he had to find a song that suited both her range and persona.

Walter Gold, John Gluck Jr. and Herb Weiner had written “It’s My Party” for the song publisher Aaron Schroeder (himself the composer of five No. 1 singles for Elvis Presley, including “It’s Now or Never”). The song sounded like a hit to Phil Spector, who wanted to record it with The Crystals. Schroeder didn’t tell this to Jones, who had already produced his version with Lesley. When Jones heard of Spector’s plans, he finished post-production on the song and released it March 30, 1963. Within four weeks it was No. 1 — the first pop hit in Jones’ storied, half-century-plus career.

The tale of a girl whose happiest birthday is ruined by seeing her boyfriend Johnny sneak off with the predatory Judy, who returns with his ring, “It’s My Party” is a little melodrama of public humiliation. The verse, with its ominous melodic curve, spells out the dilemma (“Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone, / And Judy left the same time”) before the chorus erupts in the tantrum repetition of a little girl’s snit (“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, / Cry if I want to, / Cry if I want to!”). The oddly perky musical setting lets Gore mine the character’s hurt while slyly mocking it; she is both the victim and the amused commentator.

Hits from the first decade of pop rock often summoned “answer songs.” Neil Sedaka’s “Oh! Carol” prompted “Oh Neil” by Carole King, the young singer Sedaka had written his top-10 number for. Damita Jo’s “I’ll Save the Last Dance for You” followed The Drifters’ “Save the Last Dance for Me.” These were the old songs with sex-change lyrics. Rare was the answer song with an original tune and performed by the same artist. “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” written by Beverly Ross (“Lollipop,” “Candy Man”) and Edna Lewis, gave Gore the payback part of her two-act playlet.

This time the wounded thrush sees Johnny and Judy together — “So I kissed some other guy. / Johnny comes up and he hit him, / Cause he still loves me, that’s why.” A cheating lover with anger-management issues seems a poor long-term emotional investment, but Gore sold the proposition with a voice full of teasing satisfaction. And Jones’ horn section, which had brayed in the instrumental break of “It’s My Party,” modulated with no sweat into a triumphant fanfare. “Judy” went to No. 5 on the Billboard charts.

In that fascinating few years between essential Elvis and the early fever of Beatlemania, Brill Building pop made history with young Jewish composers writing for black girl groups. The landscape also allowed a few young female singers who transmitted the hurt of love with a sonic blast (listen to the great Timi Yuro’s revenge masterpiece “What’s a Matter Baby”) or a gospel wail (the young Dionne Warwick’s cathartic “Don’t Make Me Over”). Across the pond, Dusty Springfield had broken through with the plangent “I Only Want to Be With You.” Gore wasn’t quite in their league of vocal virtuosity — she was a straight-ahead interpreter who attacked the text rather than mining the agonizing subtext — but the 17-year-old had the luck of a big ballad, a declaration of independence, in “You Don’t Own Me.”

Composers John Madora and David White, who confected uptempo hits for Danny and the Junior (“At the Hop”) and Len Barry (“1-2-3″), turned to the more mature Euro-pop for this precocious statement. If the song had any American cousins, they would be the avant-pop that Burt Bacharach and Hal David had started to produce for Warwick and other R&B artists. Again Jones produced, this time employing legendary arranger Claus Ogerman to provide the soughing strings. And Gore proved equal to the demands of greater power and grownup assertiveness. This was Lesley unleashed.

Imagine “You Don’t Own Me” not as an answer song but as a warning song: the threat of emancipation directed at the unreliable Johnny of Gore’s first two hits. She almost whispers the ghostly minor chords of the verse (“You don’t own me. / I’m not just one of your many toys”), but that’s just a massage before the chorus’s womanly karate chop: “And don’t tell me what to do / And don’t tell me what to say / And please, when I go out with you / Don’t put me on display. … I’m young and I love to be young. / I’m free and I love to be free. / To live my life the way I want / To say and do whatever I please.” We imagine that the abashed Johnny made a quick getaway, and that the singer — a woman who had discovered her roar — didn’t miss him one bit.

“You Don’t Own Me” rose in early 1964 to No. 2, just behind the Beatles’ first top-of-the-U.S.-pops “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” That ranking was prophetic: the golden age of boy bands ruled for the rest of the decade, and Gore never again made the top 10. She graced the charts with the giddy “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,” another Jones-Ogerman production that reached No. 13 and handed the 21-year-old Marvin Hamlisch his first hit. A second Hamlisch composition, “California Nights” with a Beach Boys flavor, went to No. 16 in 1967. And for Gore, that was it. Her life as a diva darling was over before she was 21.

She went the singer-songwriter route in albums that attracted little attention or acclaim. In 1980 she collaborated with her younger brother Michael on songs for the Fame movie, earning an Oscar nomination for “Out Here on My Own.” She appeared as a “guest star” in the musical Smokey Joe’s Cafe, an amalgam of rock standards by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that ran for five years of Broadway. (Just a guess: she sang the sultry-brazen “I Am Woman,” which Leiber and Stoller had written for Peggy Lee.)

In her later years, Gore came out as gay, hosted the PBS series In the Life and supported many LBGT causes. The L word would have been taboo for Gore in her pop spotlight years, as it would have been for Springfield. In a way, she had already been outed in Alison Anders’ 1996 Brill Building bio-fic Grace of My Heart, which conjures up simulacra of King, her husband Gerry Goffin, Spector, Brian Wilson and a secret lesbian called Kelly Porter and played by Bridget Fonda.

Grace of My Heart went virtually unnoticed. If moviegoers thought of Gore in the ’90s it would have been for the prominent placing in the hit comedy First Wives Club of “You Don’t Own Me,” its anthem status undiminished. A new generation of kids got the Lesley lilt when “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” showed up in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

Sharing a life with Sasson for the past 33 years, Gore dwelled comfortably in her post-celebrity decades, still looking great at 68. She’ll be fondly remembered by her fans of a half-century, and those cursing YouTube for a stalwart pop singer of a vanished age. Now it’s their turn to cry.

TIME Appreciation

Retired Janitor Shocks Community With $8 Million Bequest

Surprise Benefactor
AP—AP In this December 2011 photo, Connie Howe pours coffee for Ronald Read, left, and Dave Smith during the Charlie Slate Memorial Christmas breakfast at the American Legion in Brattleboro, Vt.

He left the money to a local hospital and library

A former gas-station attendant who lived a modest life in Vermont surprised even his friends and family with a $6 million posthumous gift to his local library and hospital.

Ronald Read, who died in June at age 92, made his fortune in the stock market but never changed his frugal habits and never revealed the fortune he had amassed, according to the Brattleboro Reformer. The only hint? His regular reading of the Wall Street Journal, stepson Philip Brown told the Reformer.

His $4.8 million gift to the local hospital and $1.2 million gift to the local library represent the largest donations in the history of either institution.

Read was born in Dummerston, Vermont in 1921 and served during World War II. He returned to Brattleboro where he worked at a gas station for 25 years and then as a janitor as a local J.C. Penny for nearly 20 years.

Read more at the Brattleboro Reformer

TIME feminism

How 7 Disney Princesses Could Change the World

Without a magic wand

After a U.S. official suggested this week that Anna and Elsa from Frozen could be good ambassadors for fighting climate change, we got to thinking about how some other Disney Princesses could wield their mighty influence on young American minds.

Princess Diana raised awareness about AIDS and land mines after her fairy-tale wedding glow faded, so why shouldn’t Disney Princesses be do-gooders, too? Here are some ways these fictional characters could change the world.

Read next: Alan Menken Tells the Stories Behind Your Favorite Disney Classics

  • Mulan (from Mulan)

    Disney

    She could fight for increased protections for women in the military, especially when it comes to being sexually assaulted or filmed in the shower. She could also fight to reform the hairstyle rules for military women, so that no female soldier ever has to give herself a terrible haircut with her dad’s sword ever again.

  • Belle (from Beauty and the Beast)

    Disney "Beauty & the Beast 3D" Belle. ©2011 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
    Disney

    She could campaign for child literacy programs and for more online education options for people who live in boring towns. She could also be a vocal advocate for increased social security and adult-home-care programs to reduce wolf attacks among the elderly.

  • Ariel (from The Little Mermaid)

    Disney

    She could be an spokesperson to clean up the oceans and save the diversity of species under the sea. She could also fight for immigration reform, so that evil witches stop taking advantage of anyone who wants to cross a border. And she could do it all in mime.

  • Pocahontas (from Pocahontas)

    Disney

    Her conflict resolution skills could make her an excellent candidate to be a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, especially in areas with indigenous tensions. She could also fight to eliminate corporal punishment and serve on the board of Save America’s Forests.

  • Cinderella (from Cinderella)

    Disney

    She could fight for a higher minimum wage in the service industry and advocate for increased protections against child labor. She could also secretly fight to lower estate taxes so that other children of rich parents don’t end up poor like her.

  • Tiana (from The Princess and the Frog)

    Disney

    The star of the New Orleans fairy tale could demand a larger investment in small businesses and an increased environmental commitment to global warming to reduce the rising waters that threaten her hometown.

  • Jasmine (from Aladdin)

    Disney

    She could be a vocal advocate for the rights of women in the Middle East, and could fight for an expansion of girls’ education in that region. She could also oppose any laws that forbid women to drive cars or operate magic carpets.

TIME Appreciation

10 Times Social Media Made the World Better in 2014

A look back at some of the year's most inspiring viral stories (in no particular order).

  • 1. When the “Burger King baby” reunited with her mom.

    Courtesy of Katheryn Deprill / AP

    Katheryn Deprill’s March 2 Facebook plea was shared more than 33,000 times—and one of the people who saw it was her biological mother, Cathy Pochek, who contacted an attorney to arrange a reunion at his office. “She left me somewhere she knew I’d be found,” Deprill (nicknamed the “Burger King baby”) told CNN affiliate WFMZ. “She did not want to throw me away.”

  • 2. When Facebook helped save a 3-year-old’s vision.

    After Tara Taylor uploaded a photo of her daughter, Rylee, to Facebook, a friend reached out about a strange glint in the toddler’s eye, saying it could be a sign of vision problems. A Memphis retina specialist diagnosed the youngster with Coat’s disease, which can cause blindness, and Rylee started treatment to help restore some of her peripheral vision.

  • 3. When Jason Biggs found his lost dog.

    When his dog, Gina, ran away on Halloween, the American Pie and Orange Is the New Black actor asked his Twitter followers to keep an eye out for her. Thousands of retweets later, Gina was found alive. Biggs tweeted, “Could NOT have done it without you guys. An amazing woman picked her up in the street, and you guys ended up forwarding the message 2 her.”

  • 4. When a mom surprised her kid with 60,000 Facebook friends.

    On Feb. 2, a Michigan mom started a Facebook page to solicit birthday wishes to cheer up her disabled son, Colin, who said he didn’t want an 11th birthday party because he thought he didn’t have friends. About a week and a half later, he had 60,000 of them on Facebook, and a few weeks after that, Good Morning America hosted a surprise birthday celebration for him in Times Square. Now the “Colin’s Friends” page has more than 2.1 million fans.

  • 5. When a 7-year-old leukemia patient found out he could leave the hospital.

    This video of Avery, son of University of Nebraska assistant men’s basketball coach Chris Harriman—who had spent roughly a month undergoing intense chemotherapy for leukemia—made national headlines in September, and prompted supporters to start an #AveryStrong hashtag.

  • 6. When an ALS patient thanked people for their Ice Bucket Challenge videos.

    The Ice Bucket Challenge craze—which helped raise $115 million for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research earlier this year—produced all kinds of remarkable videos. But none were more poignant than the one from Anthony Carbajal, documenting how he cares for his mother, who has ALS, before revealing that he too had been diagnosed with the disease. For people like him, he said, the Challenge was an invaluable resource.

  • 7. When kids read to cats at an animal shelter.

    The Animal Rescue League of Berks County

    This photo of a little boy reading to a tabby cat went viral on Reddit in early February, raising awareness about the adorable “Book Buddies” program at The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, in which children read aloud to cats at the Pennsylvania shelter to practice their reading skills.

  • 8. When a baby heard for the first time.

    This YouTube video uploaded by Toby Lever of Victoria, Australia, shows the moment when a seven-week-old baby named Lachlan—diagnosed with moderate-to-severe hearing loss—hears his parents’ voices for the first time, thanks to new hearing aids and therapy. It has logged 11.8 million views to date.

  • 9. When a NFL player gave a pep talk to his 4-year-old daughter before surgery.

    Devon Still, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle, shared video of the moment he gave his daughter, Leah, a fist bump en route to the pediatric cancer patient’s tumor removal surgery in September. The viral clip helped boost sales of his jersey, and the NFL team’s pro shop donated all proceeds—more than $1.3 million—to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

  • 10. When a mom with Alzheimer’s remembered who her daughter was

    In this YouTube video uploaded August 29, Georgia resident Kelly Gunderson said she captured a rare moment in which her 87-year-old mother, an Alzheimer’s patient, seems to remember who she is. Gunderson told TODAY she hopes the clip, with some 8 million views to date, will give other family members who are caregivers hope and something to relate to.

TIME Viral video

Watch the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer Entirely in Lego

The Lego-makers awaken

The new Star Wars teaser trailer is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things to happen this week for millions of ner—ahem, diehard fans. The second most exciting thing to happen this week is probably this remake of the trailer done entirely with Legos.

The YouTube user Snooperking pulls off this miniature Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer, capturing all the nuances, from the longsword lightsaber to the Millennium Falcon. Why do it? “I had nothing to do yesterday,” Snooperking said. A hearty round of applause, please.

TIME Appreciation

Watch This Compilation of Amy Poehler’s Best Freestyle Rap Moments

She takes on topics like home schooling, exotic pets and butter

The most important skill in freestyle rapping is improvisation, so it’s only fitting that a comedian who got her start in improv would be able to drop a rhyme or two. Amy Poehler, a frequent guest on Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast, showed her emcee chops on several episodes — and some of the funniest clips are compiled in this supercut.

Poehler takes on topics not commonly explored in hip hop, like home schooling, exotic pets and butter. Because it’s a podcast, the video uses stock photos in place of Poehler actually rapping, but she offers a mental image of how she gets into the zone: “I’m just finding my beat here, clearing my space, getting into my rap battle pose.”

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the video is that Poehler cracks herself up, delivering her lines through a steady stream of giggling. The last time we saw her rapping, she was trying to hold it together in an entirely different way: When she performed her unforgettable Sarah Palin rap on Saturday Night Live in 2009, she was, in her own words, “so pregnant that I was just trying not to give birth.”

TIME Appreciation

The 13 Most Influential Toys of All Time

As the holiday season approaches, we interviewed toy historians and experts (hello, dream job!) to rank the playthings that made the biggest impact on the toy industry—and the world at large.

  • 13. Cabbage Patch dolls

    Cabbage Patch dolls
    Vince Talotta—Getty Images

    These dolls were the first toys not tied to a popular TV, movie, or comic that “everybody had to have and nobody could find,” says Jim Silver, editor of TimetoPlayMag.com. A December 1983 TIME article described parents knocking over display tables, grabbing, and shoving each other just to get one for their kids. By billing each doll as unique (each one came with adoption papers and a birth certificate), the makers of Cabbage Patch dolls were able to create an urgent sense of demand—a strategy mimicked by Beanie Babies, ZhuZhu pets, and more.

     

  • 12. Leap Pad

    LeapPad
    Amazon

    Introduced in 1999 to help kids master reading, this talking book was the first toy that aimed to make learning fun. “Kids thought they were playing,” says Silver. “And they could do it on their own without their parents.” It also paved the way for VTech’s orange and purple V.Smile, which debuted in 2004 to help preschoolers hone motor skills through a Winnie the Pooh game, as well as countless other educational gaming consoles (including a new launch of its own). But still, “if you go down the learning aisle, LeapFrog and VTech dominate it,” says Silver.

  • 11. Rubik’s Cube 

    Rubik's Cube
    Pat Greenhouse—The Boston Globe/Getty Images

    More than 350 million have been sold worldwide since it was invented 40 years ago in Budapest by architecture professor Erno Rubik, making the cube one of the best-selling puzzles of all time. (There are a maddening 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 different ways to twist and turn it.) Today, there are annual tournaments held to reward the fastest solvers, and the Transformers toys have adopted a similar mechanism. “People love play that involves mastery,” says Richard Gottlieb, CEO of Global Toy Experts. “The harder you work at it, the better you get at it.”

  • 10. View-Master

    View-Master
    Steve Russell—Toronto Star/Getty Images

    Invented by Harold Graves, president of Sawyer’s Photographic Services, the stereoscope was unveiled at the 1939 New York World’s Fair as a way to view photos of tourist attractions in 3D and got its big break when it landed a licensing agreement with Disney. Think of it as a precursor to the Internet, says Tim Walsh: “People who couldn’t get to New York City to see the Statue of Liberty could feel like they were standing in front of it.” The old-school device still exists in some form—Mattel’s Fisher-Price makes a version—but its lasting impact is more visible in gadgets like the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

  • 9. Star Wars figurines

    Star Wars
    Darron R. Silva—AP

    Ever wonder why every summer blockbuster seems to come standard with a line of toys? Credit Star Wars‘ 1977 marketing campaign, which encouraged people to buy empty boxes with coupons redeemable for collectible Star Wars-themed toys. That “opened up the collectible category and made collecting cool,” says Silver. Likewise, the popularity of Marvel toys can be traced back to Mego, which helped license action figures for Marvel and Star Trek characters.

  • 8. Doc McStuffins

    Doc McStuffins
    Amazon

    The toy line based on the Disney Junior animated TV star who is doctor to her stuffed animals was the first black figure to become popular among kids of all races, boasting $500 million in sales last year. “This is a big statement about how the world is finally changing,” says Silver, “because it means kids are buying the doll not because of the color of its skin, but because of the character of the person.”

  • 7. Super Soaker

    Super Soaker
    John Blazemore—AP

    This pump-action water gun literally blew its competition out of the water, so to speak. Before NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson invented and licensed it to the Larami Corporation (later acquired by Hasbro) in 1989, “water pistols were cheap throwaway toys that you gave to somebody at a birthday party,” says Tim Walsh, author of Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. “The Super Soaker changed the summer toy aisle, so now there’s an aisle of Super Soaker-esque water pistols that shoot 30-50 feet of water into the air.”

  • 6. Easy Bake Oven

    Easy Bake Oven
    Hasbro/AP

    Cooked up in 1963 by Kenner Products (now part of Hasbro), it was the first toy that allowed kids to make edible food, a brand new category of play. Now stores feature devices that make s’mores, sno cones, cotton candy, cupcakes, and most recently, cake pops.

  • 5. Chatty Cathy

    “The fact that dolls talk started with Chatty Cathy,” says Silver. She was the first portable, interactive doll that said things like “Let’s play house” or “I love you” when children pulled her drawstring. Mattel made it from 1959 to the mid-1960s, paving the way for the 1986 launch of Teddy Ruxpin, the first interactive stuffed animal or plush toy—kids inserted a cassette tape in its back, and it would talk—and mega-popular talking plushes like Furby, Tickle Me Elmo and Hasbro FurReal Friends.

  • 4. Nerf Bow and Arrow

    Nerf Bow and Arrow
    Mark Lennihan—AP

    The NERF “Bow ‘N’ Arrow” launched the toy blaster market when it was introduced in 1991. “Up until the 1980s, NERF had always been the hoop and basketball, so the bow and arrow changed NERF’s entire brand to where it is today, which is more of a blaster with foam darts,” says Silver. Today, the brand (owned by Kenner Products and now Hasbro) counts on the popularity of The Hunger Games’s bow-hunting heroine Katniss Everdeen to sell blasters, especially to girls, while its influence market-wide can be seen in the emergence of Zing Toys, a line of foam darts and slingshots, and the “secret” line of blasters Mattel revealed in April that are designed to fire more accurately than NERF ones.

  • 3. G.I. Joe

    G.I. Joe
    William A. Rice—MCT/Getty Images

    No one thought boys would play with a doll—until Hasbro introduced G.I. Joe in the middle of the Cold War as an “action figure” named after Government-Issued Joe, the World War II nickname for regular soldiers. “He’s an everyman, but he’s a hero—a singular individual who gets things done,” says Patricia Hogan, curator at the Strong Museum of Play. Joe paved the way for other action figures, specifically spies like the female private detective Honey West and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., as people were fixated on espionage during the Cold War. But his most enduring impact may be his bendable frame. “You couldn’t bend Barbie’s knees or her elbows—she just sort of stood there while you explained what she was doing,” Hogan says. “But a kid could pose G.I. Joe doing almost anything. There were a lot of action figures that came out after Joe that didn’t have that kind of articulation, and they did not sell nearly as well.”

  • 2. Barbie

    Barbie
    Stan Honda—AFP/Getty Images

    Sales may have dropped recently, but Mattel still claims a Barbie doll is sold every three seconds, which would make the billion-dollar brand the world’s most popular doll for girls. And she’s a pretty good role model, having held more than 150 careers—including doctor, scientist and lawyer—since her debut in 1959, and always keeping an active lifestyle. “Barbie was the first incarnation of the adult version of a doll that would allow girls to envision, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ besides a mom,” says Walsh. She also embraced cultural diversity before many Americans did. Barbie’s first African-American friend debuted in 1968, and the first African-American version of herself debuted in 1980. “She has staying power because she’s changed and grown with the times,” says Hogan. And she has even surged ahead of them: Barbie has, after all, become President of the United States.

  • 1. LEGO

    Lego
    Kazuhiro Nogi—AFP/Getty Images

    Never mind that LEGO is the world’s biggest toy company—bringing in $2.3 billion in the first half of 2014 compared to Mattel’s $2 billion—and that it has spawned action-figures, TV shows, a fan conference and, most recently, a hit film. Since its debut in 1958, LEGO has also redefined the potential of playthings, allowing kids to build permanent structures from scratch, in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and “take them anywhere they want,” says Silver. That has had a massive impact on the toy and gaming industry—Minecraft was born from its creator’s experience playing with LEGO—and especially its younger players. As Walsh puts it: “I hear more stories about people who have become architects and engineers because they had a love for building with LEGOs” than I have heard people say, ‘I became a lawyer because I had a lawyer Barbie.'”

TIME Appreciation

Watch John Cale’s Tribute to Lou Reed One Year After His Death

The former Velvet Underground member shares an emotional new version of his song "If You Were Still Around"

It’s been exactly one year since rock legend Lou Reed died at age 71. To pay tribute, Reed’s former Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale released a re-recording of his 1982 tune “If You Were Still Around.” The video mixes new footage of an emotional, tearful Cale with old footage of Reed.

Cale also shared a statement, Pitchfork reports, alluding to the rockers’ at times contentious relationship:

A Moth and a Candle met. They decided to become friends. Everyone enjoyed watching their discourse – especially the risk takers. Then one day a big rain came. The Moth couldn’t fly and the Candle puttered out. Everyone laughed in bitter awe and blamed the rain. Most however knew the deeper truth – the Candle remains lit and the Moth will stay close.

 

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