Each person, regardless of the era they grew up in, will probably look back and say that they had the best toys when they were young. Some of the toys listed below still exist and others have been discontinued. Do you remember any of these famous ones from your childhood?
Favorite Childhood Toys
Slip -N Slide®
The idea for the Slip ‘N Slide came in 1961 when its inventor, Robert Carrier, witnessed his son sliding on wet, painted concrete. He originally used a strip of fake leather, but when he sold his design to Wham-O, they replaced it with plastic to cut down production costs. The company has since added enhancements, like an inflatable pool at one end and spray tubes on both sides.
Easy-Bake Oven by Kenner Products, Hasbro
Kenner introduced the Easy-Bake Oven in 1963, which Hasbro eventually bought but then discontinued a few years ago. The original product used a pair of ordinary incandescent light bulbs to heat the food until a real heating element was later added. Kenner sold 500,000 ovens its first year, and more than 16 million, in eleven different models, by 1997. As a way to reflect on the memories of using the oven as a child, author and toy historian Todd Coopee established “National Easy-Bake Oven Day” on November 4th, the day Kenner originally released it.
Nerf Super Soaker by Hasbro
The Super Soaker is a water gun that shoots with even more accuracy than a regular squirt pistol. The 1989 prototype contained a PVC pipe, acrylic glass, and an empty soda bottle. The original toy went on sale in 1990 and was called the “Power Drencher” before the name changed in 1991, coinciding with television ads that garnered 2 million dollars in sales. The brand is so popular that the term super soaker is often used generally to refer to any type of water gun.
Hot Wheels ® by Mattel, Inc.
Mattel started making these die-cast toy automobiles in 1968 as a competitor to Matchbox, and since then, many car manufacturers have licensed Hot Wheels to make scale models of their cars. Even though they were initially intended for children, the toys have become collector items for adults. Mattel also currently produces racetracks that are sold separately. Hot Wheels are so popular that even video games have been released for various consoles, starting in 1984 and up to the current 2019 version that partnered with the mobile game Drive Ahead.
Game Boy by Nintendo Co., LTD
The Game Boy was a handheld game console and is a beloved nostalgic toy for those who grew up in the 1990s. Although it wasn’t as technologically advanced as some of its competitors, it had a stronger battery life and was more durable. It outsold the other game systems, selling one million units in the United States within a few weeks. An estimated 118 million units of the Game Boy and the Game Boy Color were sold worldwide, making it the third best-selling video game console of all time. It’s one of the most recognizable devices from the era, becoming a cultural icon, but production ceased in 2003.
Lite-Brite by Hasbro
Lite-Brite, originally marketed in 1967, consisted of a light box with colored plastic pegs that fit to create an image, although color-by-letter templates were once sold as well. Current updated versions of the toy have included a flat-screen, a 3-D cube, and an edition that spins and plays music. Time Magazine named Lite-Brite one of the top toys of all time, and it was a finalist for the 2020 National Toy Hall of Fame.
Etch A Sketch®
Etch A Sketch was invented in the late 1950s but officially introduced in 1960. It’s one of the best-known toys of the Baby Boom era, selling 600,000 units its first year. The toy allows its artist-to-be to create a type of computer graphics image by using knobs that move a stylus to scrape off aluminum powder. Even though the toy has lost popularity over the years, there was a surge in production in the 1990s when it was featured in the Toy Story film franchise.
This animatronic bear-like creature was the best-selling toy of 1985 and 1986. An audio cassette was built into its back, and its eyes and mouth moved based on what was playing on the tape. Its popularity spawned an animated cartoon series, but it only lasted two seasons, from 1986 to 1987. Teddy Ruxpin toys have stopped and then restarted production over the years, picked up by various companies, but its newest version, from Hasbro, came out in 2017. Instead of cartridges, three stories are programmed within the toy, and the rest can be purchased with a mobile app.
The Slinky, a helical spring toy, stems all the way back to the 1940s. It was an instant hit after inventor and naval mechanical engineer Richard T. James held a demonstration at Philadelphia’s Gimbels department store in 1945, selling the entire inventory of 400 units in just ninety minutes. The Slinky works due to the effects of gravitation and physics. When set in motion on a platform such as a stairway, the spring moves end over end in a periodical motion. The famous Slinky jingle from 1962 became the longest-running jingle in advertising history. You can now also find “Slinky Dogs” (a character from Toy Story), and plastic and colored versions.
Created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam, these plastic trolls with furry, combed up hair were one of the biggest toy fads in the United States from 1963 to 1965. Although they lost popularity after a few years, they made a comeback in the 1970s through the 1990s and were copied by other manufacturers using different names. Several video games and a video show were based on the toy, and a movie and its sequel were released in 2013 and 2020, respectively.
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