With Christmas round the corner, people are putting on their shopping hats and are out on a spending spree. I remember when I was a kid every holiday season would be marked by some random toys that becomes a ‘must-have’ for just every child This new craze would send every kid in the block into turmoil and every parent would be forced to buy them that toy (unless they can put up with the chaos that is awaiting them, after they have said ‘NO.’) This Christmas let’s dig into history to find the biggest toy crazes of each decade. A little secret: # 4 is still my favorite, and I buy one every time I find it being sold.
1. The Radio Flyer Wagon — 1920s
An Italian immigrant called Pasin, in Chicago was the brain behind this legendary wagon which created a huge stir among the kids instantly. He had his own firm in the year 1923 which produced this toy.
2. The Chemistry Set — 1920s
This was one gift that even parents readily bought, a chemistry set. A smart move by, A.C. Gilbert Co. Initially the market of this toy was only the male gender, in 1950’s girls were given a pink set since they were lab technicians. One year later this too was made unisex like nearly everything that is sold nowadays.
3. View-Master — 1930s
This 3D color slide equipment gained prompt popularity when it got into a partnership with Disney. Earlier two cameras were tied together before it was improvised on.
4. Bubbles — 1940s
Chemtoy was the first organization that was came up with brilliant idea to bottle up their bubble solution in the year 1940. This became an immediate fad with children and still is going strong with kids that age.
5. Little Golden Books — 1940s
This story book was introduced in the year 1942 which was averagely priced. From fairy tales to all action stories kids all ages loved this book. 1.5 million Copies were sold in 5 months with the originals still being printed.
6. Silly Putty – 1950s
During the Second World War when scientists were trying to invent a substitute to for rubber they ended up emerging Silly Putty. It was a “solid Liquid” toy that became a huge craze for the youngsters. It was finally used by NASA on their Apollo * mission to hold their tools against zero gravity.
7. PEZ Dispensers — 1950s
PEZ confectioneries in the year 1927 were a huge fad among everyone who had a sweet tooth. 30 years later came dispensers which highlighted famous and lovable characters like Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse. They are now sold at about $10,000 each.
8. Gumby — 1950s
This character in green was introduced in the year 1953 in the movie Gumbasia. When this character was made into a clay toy and sold, it was a huge hit.
9. Etch-A-Sketch — 1960s
The Ohio art company gave this the very popular toy its name. The demand for this toy in the year 1960 was so much that the employees of the company were busy making these toys even on Christmas Eve.
10. G.I. Joe – 1960s
While the girls were busy with Barbie’s, Hasbro decided to invent an action figure for the boys. G.I. Joe was formulated for the guys and this continues to be a popular toy till date.
11. Easy-Bake Oven — 1960s
This was a big hit among all those little chefs who would love to bake yummy cakes and cookies with the help of a light bulb.
12. Lite-Brite — 1960s
Lite-Brite was a cute toy which had a black base with light behind it. So the kids would insert plastic pegs and different colors and patterns of light would come out. Seeing these self-created patterns of light would bring a smile to any child’s face.
13. NERF Football — 1970s
These products are made from “non-expanding recreational foam,” best used to throw and play. While all their products were a huge hit, football became the highest selling product.
14. Paddington Bear – 1970s
Paddington Brown was first a story book character and then he was also manufactured as a toy. His manufacture was started in England and soon became a global figure.
15. Rubik’s Cube — 1970s
This cube for the intelligent people was invented in Hungary by one Ernö Rubik. The popularity of this toy is one of most loved play things among kids then and now.
16. Classic Football — 1970s
The release of this game set marked the beginning of computer gaming. This game set ran on a rechargeable battery.
17. Cabbage Patch Kids — 1980s
The brain behind this beautiful doll was a 21-year-old art student. This doll became such a huge craze with all the kids that parents had to camp outside the shop to get their hands on at least one of them.
18. Glo Worm — 1980s
Scared of the dark? Do you keep looking under the bed at night for hidden monsters? You do? Really? What a baby!
Actually, this is a very real fear which most babies, and, a few – ‘ahem’, adults, experience. But wait, there is a solution to this fear. In 1982, Hasbro, a company sensitive to this fear, has put in the market a soft plastic grub, which glows in the dark. This combination of a stuffed toy and a night light has swept aside all those night time fears. Thousands of kids have slept soundly, cuddling these friendly little grubs. Delighted with its success, Hasbro also put out more stuff for kids, such as crib lights, videos, story books and so on. But everything good, it seems, must have a negative. In 2005, it came to light, that the plastic head of these worms, contained phthalates, which could harm the child. And we had just got over looking under our beds at night.
19. Beanie Babies — 1990s
Don’t we all know it? If something is not available- WE WANT IT! In the mid-90s TY Inc., played on this human trait and was able to ride this wave of demand for several years. What and how did they do it? They made beanie babies. These were bean filled stuffed animals. Then they made them difficult to get by producing only special and limited editions. Well their ruse worked and soon even adults were on the buying and collecting band wagon. With the Beanie Babies becoming a collector’s item, some rare ones, read unavailable ones, were worth thousands of dollars at online auctions. For those of us who are not initiated in making money out of everyday items, there is a lesson here.
20. The American Girls dolls
Don’t we all love American girls dolls? Well the answer is YES. These dolls were a huge hit, and they gave the Barbie dolls a run for their money. In addition, these dolls were also educational, as they portrayed the American girls at different periods of American history. So one could buy a doll and be able to pass it off as an educational aid. In due course, this educational fire was fanned by extending the dolls to portray girls from different ethnic backgrounds and walks of life, up to the present. They also had book series, which modeled these girls. These dolls weren’t cheap. They were sold only via catalogue, or at the rare store.