The greatest, most influential, most popular and the best-selling toys of all time. At one time, these were the hottest toys of their respective holiday seasons. These toys left a lasting impression and also inspired several other kind of toys.
Debuting in 1958, LEGO allowed kids to make all kinds of structures from scratch, and had a huge impact on players. Lego has inspired many such kids to become architects and engineers. Even Minecraft was born from its creator’s experience playing with LEGO. The secret of LEGO’s huge success is that it inspires people of all ages to build structures.
Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has been inspiring girls to take up various careers. The fashion doll quickly grew big and soon you had accessories, clothes and merchandise for the Barbie. The world’s most popular doll is also a great role model for girls and is available as doctor, scientist, lawyer and more (over 150 careers).
Government-Issued Joe (G.I. Joe) was the nickname for regular soldiers who fought in the World War II. Hasbro introduced G.I. Joe “action figures” during the Cold War. Before Joe released, dolls could not bend their knees or elbows (they just stood); but G.I. Joe was flexible and could do almost anything. When it was launched, only four figures were introduced, each representing the army, the air force, the navy, and the marines. Later, these were available in other designs and also came with cool little manned vehicles. Joe inspired the creation of other action figures.
Mattel’s Hot Wheels cars became a rage when they debuted in 1968, as these were smooth, went further, and kids loved making them zoom around. Soon, these were available in several designs and colors mean. Mattel then introduced toy racing tracks which further soared the popularity of Hot Wheels.
While Skateboards wasn’t an entirely new invention in the ’70s, the invention of polyurethane wheel did increased the popularity of skateboard manifold. These wheels were smoother and also provided a better grasp on the pavement. It went on to become a cultural icon and is now also a sport in the Olympics.
Introduced in 1917, American toy company Radio flyers is best known for its classic little red wagon, a must-have on everybody’s list. The company now produces a range of scooters, bicycles, wagons, tricycles, horses and other kinds of ride-ons.
Nerf Bow and Arrow
Introduced in 1991, popularity of NERF “Bow ‘N’ Arrow” gave a big push to the toy blaster market (blaster with foam darts). More girls sought this toy due to the popularity of The Hunger Games’ bow-hunting heroine Katniss Everdeen. This toy also inspired several other foam dart based line of toys.
Water pistols were popular even before this toy came out. However, this was a game changer as it could shoot water 30-50 feet into the air. Designed by NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson in 1989, and eventually acquired by Hasbro, the Super Soaker would go on to change the summer toy aisle.
Doc McStuffins was the first black figure to become popular all over, and it revealed that the world was changing as kids were buying the doll because of the character, and not skin color. The character was taken from Disney Junior animated TV, where she is a doctor to her stuffed animals.
Star Wars figurines
The huge success of the first Star Wars film and Star Wars‘ unique marketing campaign in 1977 encouraged people to buy collectible Star Wars-themed toys, and since then star wars fans have been collecting these toys, and almost every summer blockbuster seem to come up with a new line of toys.
This toy debuted at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and allowed people to watch photos in 3D. People could watch tourist attractions (which they had not seen) through this and feel as if they were standing right there. This stereoscope was invented by Harold Graves, president of Sawyer’s Photographic Services.
Recent versions of this vintage toy: Mattel’s Fisher-Price ViewMaster, Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Invented in Budapest by architecture professor Erno Rubik in 1974, the cube remains one of the best-selling puzzles of all time. Today, you will find annual tournaments that brings together the fastest solvers.
Toy trucks and cars that could transform into robots captured the imagination of kids when these made their debut in 1984. These were incredibly popular even before these were made into comic books, animated series, and films.
First suggested by Joe McVicker in the early 1950s for school kids, kids found these to be a lot easier to handle compared to the artist’s clay. By 1956, Play-Doh had become popular and soon the big retailers would stock colorful versions. Today, these are commonly used by kids in the classroom.
Introduced in 1999, this was the first toy that make learning fun for kids. The success of this toy made VTech introduce more toys to help preschoolers learn using games.
Cabbage Patch dolls
Originally named the Little People, these dolls (introduced in 1983) were a rage despite not being associated with any popular TV, movie, or comic. The makers created a demand for this product by billing each doll as unique; these came with adoption papers and a birth certificate, which also encouraged the idea of adopting children.
Funtoyworld is a family-managed website with me (Ben), and my wife doing most of the work. We are proud parents of two wonderful kids and love reviewing toys. We have a firm but friendly “democratic parenting” style and offer several practical suggestions backed by extensive research. Our own experience with raising two children prompted us to share our knowledge. Read more.