50 Toy Fads That Hooked UsVivian Manning-Schaffel
We all had those toys that, for whatever reason, we just had to have. Was it the coolness of the product, or the fact that every single other kid had one? Either way, those toys kept us — and our kids! — entertained … until everyone moved on to the next fad. Here are 50 of our favorites from throughout toy history. Were any ever on your wish list, or your kids’?
1. Zhu Zhu Pets
Formerly known as Furbies, these multi-hued, befuzzed, motorized robots had us at chirps like “Hee-haw!”
2. Silly Bandz
Multi-colored rubber bracelets shaped like … anything and everything? What’s not to like about entertaining your kids for only $2.99-ish?
Let’s get this straight — a zillion-dollar franchise built around small round plastic magnets that unfurl to reveal “monsters” on metal surfaces? Remind us to return as Japanese inventors in our next life!
4. Beanie Babies
Who didn’t collect these saggy cuties in the ’90s? And believe it or not, these PVC-pellet stuffed animal bean bags still fetch upward of $375 on eBay!
If you are even remotely coordinated, this rotatable, plastic ankle ball can give you one heck of a workout.
This owly-looking Zhu Zhu predecessor forecasted more than $300M in sales back in 1999 and spoke “Furbish” in 40 — count ’em — 40 other languages!
7. Giga Pets / Tamagotchi
A handheld “egg” that eats, plays, “poops,” and even dies, providing kids with a digital spin on the circle of life.
So what if she’s not even remotely anatomically correct? The original blonde plastic icon and her spiffy entourage have helped little girls play big for over 50 years.
The endless array of cards, video games, and accessories can ignite a young kid’s imagination for hours upon hours. And seriously, how much fun would it be to sit around conjuring names like Pikachu, Koffing, and Weezing all day?
See a laminated board. Stick vinyl shapes, forms, and figures on that laminated board where you can make them do all kinds of things. So simple, yet oh-so entertaining.
11. Magic 8 Ball
An eight ball that tells your fortune through the arbitrary positioning of a floating octagon? Talk about a profound lesson in synchronicity!
12. Ouija Board
Without a scientific explanation for exactly how this portal channels messages from the great beyond, color us M..Y..S..T..I..F..I..E..D.
13. Easy-Bake Oven
Grooming would-be housewives since 1963. The notion of cooking actual food by light bulb remains every bit as fun and fascinating today.
14. Baby Alive Doll
Little girls just can’t resist mothering a baby doll that can drink, burp, giggle, coo, and pee just like they used to.
15. Pick-Up Sticks
This game may be just what it sounds — 50 multi-colored sticks that you have to pick up — but playing is a terrific way for kids to hone fine motor skills.
The classic way to build a whole new world in primary colors.
17. Tech Deck
An early lesson in cool, these cute mini-skateboard replicas are designed to encourage your mini-Tony Hawk to scale mini-skate ramps with their ever-so-dexterous mini-fingers.
18. Bok Choy Boys
Emblazoned with random elements and Chinese symbols to evoke the stuff of legends, these colorful, collectible vending machine martians are an el cheapo way to ignite the imagination.
They may look like your run-of-the-mill adorable stuffed animals, but the ability to “adopt” and nurture Webkinz online forges a sweet, special connection for your kid.
20. Cabbage Patch Dolls
Between the dolls and various spinoffs, the Cabbage Patch brand was the obsession of a generation, raking in around $2 billion in sales since the ’80s!
21. Bobblehead Dolls
Whether or not you’re prepared to acknowledge it, watching a large head float atop a really small body can be kind of funny.
22. Pet Rocks
Any marketer that convinces thousands to BUY ROCKS earns snaps for his or her sheer genius.
23. Lincoln Logs
Rugged, rustic, and charmingly old school, what school-age kid can resist the lure of designing their own little cabin retreat?
A bald figure that bounces six feet in the air on impact. Wheeeee!!!
These mesh “finger traps,” available in a vast array of bright, primary colors, make for an inviting challenge to anyone in the single-digit age bracket.
26. Garbage Pail Kids
Can you believe these cheeky Gen-X trading cards illustrated with exploding-headed children are still hot stuff?
27. Atari 2600
One must pay reverence to the granddaddy of all electronic games, because without this bad boy, there would be no Mario Kart.
A variation on the Scrabble concept, this spelling game is totally portable (always a plus for parents!) and can be enjoyed by 1-8 players.
29. Odball Stranz
This hollow ball made with faux-plastic string is easy to catch — the perfect esteem booster for younger ball players!
This harmless fun gun shoots “balls of air” up to 20 feet at your enemies.
31. Thomas the Tank Engine
The epic blue wooden choo-choo and his free-tooting comrades consume a considerable amount of space in every preschooler boy’s brain.
32. Nerf Anything
Foam balls that you can whip, hurl, and toss with all your might without costly residual damage? True love for both kids and parents!
It’s a monster! No — it’s a monster truck! Wait — it’s a monster! Transformers retained their cool status for over 25 years while impressively making their mark on the film, TV, and publishing industries.
34. Marshmallow Shooters
An automated way to whip a marshmallow at your brother’s skull with all your might. Priceless!
One cruise on this eco-friendly wooden balance bike, and you’ll hear your proud trainee shout, “Look mom! No pedals!”
36. FurReal Friends
The cute factor of these palm-sized dogs, coupled with their bouncy little bobble-tails, makes it hard to stop at owning just one.
37. Flying Turtle
A scooter that consists of a bicycle seat, handle bars, and a bar that holds them together. Wheeeeeee!
A wireless paintbrush that allows you to virtually “paint, draw, splat, spin, spray, and play” on your TV screen. Woot! Who isn’t madly in love with no-mess art supplies?
With all kinds of nifty design boosts and customizations, Life (age 150!) and Monopoly (age 75!) are no-fail ways to stay entertained on rainy days.
40. Polly Pockets
These tiny dolls and their tiny little worlds are not only adorable, but they’re also fantastically collectible and won’t dominate the toy bin.
41. Big Wheel
A middle-aged classic constructed of lightweight plastic, this trike gave many of us our first taste of the open road. No wonder it’s the No. 1 selling ride of all time!
42. Fischer Price Corn Popper
This classic plastic/wooden push toy has simultaneously captivated and thrilled toddlers for over half a century.
43. Silly Putty
An oldie but goodie from 1943, Silly Putty is comprised of a palm-sized, flesh-colored, sticky silicone-based substance that can both alleviate stress and lift images from newsprint.
44. Troll Dolls
So ugly, they’re adorable.
In the ’90s, we couldn’t get enough of a game comprised of slamming bottle-cap-like cardboard discs on tables. Why? Because it’s way too much fun to slam things!
46. Raggedy Ann/Andy
Your great-grandma had one. Your grandma had one. You had one. Now your kid has one. After 95 years on the planet, the quintessential redheads cannot be denied their rightful place on this list.
47. Calico Critters
Kids love these teeny, tiny little fuzzy animals and their delicate array of teeny, tiny accoutrements so much, they make big bank!
48. Razor Scooter
How DO our children learn to balance and ride two metal bars with two small wheels so damn fast?
49. Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head
Another oldie but goodie, the art of placing facial features, limbs, and accessories on a plastic potato never wears on a newly nimble two-year-old.
These cute thumb-sucking dolls have charmed millions since their inception in ’70s Japan — and they’re STILL for sale!