A nostalgic look at popular toys found on lists to Santa in the olden days.
As it's only a few days until Christmas, this week I take a nostalgic trip down memory lane as I look at a selection of toys from years gone by. I've also included the decade when they were launched, or in some cases the decade when the popularity of the toys in question was at its peak. However, the popularity of many toys has spanned over generations, so don't be surprised if you associate some of the toys with a different era...
1950s - Play-Doh
|Play-Doh, sponsored by Keith Lemon, the 'Fuzzy Pumper'.|
Fortunately, Joe McVicker (nephew of the dude who invented Play-Doh), noticed that young kids were using the wallpaper cleaner for modelling purposes and so after a quick change of marketing direction, the wallpaper cleaner was repackaged as ‘Play-Doh’ and sales quickly took off. Within a few years the company had already racked up millions of dollars’ worth of sales and by 2005 more than two billion cans had been sold!
It just goes to show the importance of marketing and correctly identifying your optimum target audience.
1960s - Etch-A-Sketch
As you can see, with patience it's possible
to create some impressive sketches,
such as this sketch I quickly prepared earlier.
Drawing a blocky picture by turning a couple of knobs was about as practical as eating fish and chips through a straw, but strangely, painstakingly creating an Etch-A-Sketch picture would give you a great sense of achievement. It looks pretty antiquated nowadays when compared to the Playstations and Xboxes of today, but at the time Etch-A-Sketch was the Photoshop of its day!
1970s - Lego
|"These aren't the toys you're looking for."|
Such has been the success of Lego in recent years, that since the turn of the century Lego has actually been a better investment than gold! The average Lego set has increased in value by 12% each year, so if your kid asks for an expensive Lego set for Christmas, tell them, "Okay, but you have to promise to leave it in the box and to never ever play with it, so that mammy and daddy can sell it in twenty years time to pay off the mortgage."
Since Lego was first introduced, over 600 billion Lego parts have been produced; enough for almost 100 pieces for everyone on the planet! In 2014 Lego announced annual sales of £2.8 billion and judging by the amount of Lego my nephew has in his toy box, I would guess that he accounted for a significant proportion of those sales.
1980s - My Little Pony
Someone Else's Average Sized Horse.
Anyway, getting back to the My Little Pony toys, much like my nephew I'm also a boy, not a girl, so I was never really into My Little Pony when I was younger. I can understand the appeal though, and when Hasbro were first approached with the idea of cute toy ponies, they must have suspected they were on to a definite winner. That suspicion proved very much accurate, and in 2014 Hasbro sold an impressive one billion dollars worth of My Little Pony toys!
1990s - Pokemon
|'Pick a chew.'|
Each player gets seven cards, and to win a card battle you have to compare the statistics of each Pokemon card, then perform a complicated mathematical sum to decide who won the battle. My nephew just saw it as a fun card game, and he didn't realise he was being sneakily conned into learning complicated arithmetical sums!
. . . . . . . .
That's it for this week, but over the decades there have been hundreds of other cool memorable toys, so I'll feature another batch of toys from years gone by in the run up to Christmas next year!
N.B. Please note, the etch-a-sketch drawing of course wasn't something I quickly prepared earlier, and in fact it was drawn by Paul Johnson.
This nostalgic look at toys from the past was written and compiled by Charles Fudgemuffin. You can follow Charles Fudgemuffin on facebook and twitter:
Charles Fudgemuffin's younger brother, Charles Fudgemuffin Jr, recently published a Christmas themed novella 'Santa And The Naughty Elf' which is available for Kindle from Amazon.
Santa And The Naughty Elf