It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Certainly for little kids who want presents from Santa, at least. This timeline of toys starts in the early 1900’s, when every child wanted a cuddly teddy bear to hold, and ends in present times when a gaming console is at the top of almost every Christmas list. Let’s take a look at how the wants have changed along with the times.
Morris Mitchom created a stuffed bear in response to a story about Teddy Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a black bear. Apparently, the President’s affection (or whatever it was) for the bear made the stuffed version of the ferocious creature a hot-ticket item, and kids today still have teddy bears. Adults too. Some of the older teddy bears are highly collectible and worth quite a bit of money. Another big item of the time was the erector set, which is still a popular gift today. Finally, Lionel Trains were a hot gift item.
Tinker Toys were created for kids too young for erector sets, and they were very popular. Raggedy Ann dolls, created by a cartoonist named Johnny Gruelle, were also very popular. Also making their first appearance in the 1920’s were Crayola Crayons, still a popular item today. However, the first boxes of Crayola Crayons contained eight crayons only, while today there are boxes with many more color options.
Two big items in the 1930’s were the Viewmaster Slide Viwer and Monopoly. Monopoly was originally rejected by the game manufacturer, but starting in 1935 the game was a smash it, and over 200 million games have been stold since then.
Scrabble hit the stores, and is still a strong seller today. The Slinky made its first appearance in the 1940’s, and more than 300 million Slinky units have been sold today. Another popular item was Silly Putty, a happy accident that is still popular today.
Yahtzee, the hula hoop, and Play-Doh came to pass in the 1950’s, though Play-Doh was originally created as a wallpaper cleaner. Also to make her premiere in the 1950’s was Barbie. Over one billion Barbies have been sold worldwide. The original was available in blonde or brunette, and she was wearing a swimsuit. Now, Barbies are available in different ethnicity, and the wardrobe options are simply staggering.
The 1960’s saw the Easy Bake Oven, G.I. Joe, Action Man (the UK version of G.I. Joe), Etch a Sketch, and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots hit the scenes, and almost every Christmas list. The Easy Bake Oven has recently been re-released with a real heating element instead of the two light bulbs that used to almost cook your cake batter.
Dungeons and Dragons hit the scene in the 1970’s, as did Uno and Connect Four. Star Wars toys came out after the iconic movie did in 1977, and by 2008 the franchise had generated $4.41 billion in box office revenues. Technology made its way into the hearts and minds of the public, hence the popularity of the Speak & Spell, and the high tech 2D game Pong.
The Rubik’s Cube was introduced in the 1980’s, and over 350 million of them have been sold worldwide. The Koosh Ball, a ball with thousands of rubber springs that makes a *koosh* sound when you throw it, was very popular, and Lego jumped on the scene. Lego is now the fourth largest toy manufacturer in the world. Also in the 1980’s little kids were asking Santa for Transformers Optimus Prime (not Bumblebee, like today), and Teddy Ruxpin, the creepy talking bear was at the top of the list. Finally, My Little Pony, with their brush-able hair and that distinctive rubber smell, topped Christmas lists from 1983 to 1995, and have recently made a comeback.
POG, originally invented as a teaching game, hit it big in the 1990’s, even though it had been around in Hawaii since the 1920’s. Beanie Babies were all the rage, as well as Power Rangers action figures, Buzz Lightyear toys, and Tickle Me Elmo had moms beating each other up in department stores. The Furby, which sold over 40 million units in the first 3 years, was a hit item, and the Nintendo Game Boy was super popular.
Ben 10: Alien Creation Chamber, The High School Musical Dance, Bratz Dolls, Razor Scooters, RoboSapiens, and Tamagotchi Connexions have all been on Christmas lists in the 2000’s, along with gaming systems like the Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, and the Xbox 360. How times have changed from the simple erector set.
The type is a little small, but it was nice to see pictures of each item, and the design of the infographic was overall very good.
It would have been nice to see 2000’s and 2010’s broken up, with items from last year and this year on the most current part of the list.
Source: Top 50 Christmas Toys of the Last 100 Years by Cash Generator.