Mother and child brand Vertbaudet recently sent over an article about children’s toys that have endured over decades and I thought it worth publishing. Mainly because the older I get the more I love reminiscing about my own childhood!
They decided to investigate into what makes something that kids loved all those years ago a bestseller to delight their own children today. On asking psychology expert Professor Jeffrey Goldstein, he suggested that to parents, toys from their childhood represent a simpler time. They may buy the toys in the hope they’ll provide their own children with some of the fond memories they themselves associate with those toys.
Vertbaudet also picked out the top nostalgia-prompting playthings from over the decades to reveal all about these timeless toys, including what made them so great and what level of success they’ve enjoyed in recent years. And I’ve been hunting the internet for photos and videos to illustrate (make sure you watch that Rubik’s Cube video too! I can solve a Rubik’s cube but that’s nothing these days it seems!)…
1950s – Barbie
The first Barbie introduced by Mattel back in 1959 and was an instant success, with more than 350,000 dolls sold in the first year of production. The 1/6th scale doll was soon joined by boyfriend Ken in 1961 and has subsequently had over 40 pets and numerous accessories, as well as a fair share of controversy over the depiction of women and representation of body image. Despite this, three Barbie’s are still sold every second.
Fun Fact: Barbie’s real name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.
Image via Barbie Media
1960s – Etch A Sketch
The idea behind Etch A Sketch was simple: two knobs move a stylus which leaves a trail of aluminium powder on the screen, make a picture then shake it up and start again. The 1960 launch was extraordinarily popular and 50 years later the same design has sold 100 million units.
Fun fact: The Guinness World Record for the largest Etch A Sketch drawing ever made involved the use of 144 of the devices joined together
Image via The Invisible Agent
1970s – Space Hopper
First released in the late 60s, the Space hopper was all the rage in the 70s. For some kids it was the only way to travel, and you could barely walk down a suburban street without seeing kids bouncing around on the oversized, brightly coloured rubber balloons.
Fun fact: The 100m record for a man on a Space Hopper is 30.2 seconds.
1980s – Rubik’s Cube
In 1974, Hungarian Erno Rubik came up with a simple twisting 3D puzzle: a cube made up of smaller cubes with coloured faces in a 3x3x3 design. If you want to understand how popular this toy has been over the years, consider this: there are 43 quintillion different variations of the coloured squares on a Rubik’s cube, yet the current world record for solving the puzzle is 5.66 seconds.
Fun fact: If you had a Rubik’s Cube for every possible variation of colour combinations, you could cover the Earth’s surface 275 times.
1990s – Game Boy
The Game Boy’s release was a true landmark for video games. For the first time real games were truly portable, giving kids access to classic puzzle game Tetris and rich characters such as Mario and Zelda wherever they went. Nintendo’s first shipment of a million units to North America sold out within weeks, and it has gone on to sell another 117 million units worldwide.
Fun fact: By 2000, a Game Boy had more computing power than all the technology used to put the first man on the moon
2000s – Teksta Robotic Dog
The introduction of the Teksta Robotic Dog gave parents the chance to let their children enjoy the fun of a puppy, without the hassle of having to feed, walk and clean up after it – and you didn’t have to let it stick its head out of the window on car journeys. The robot could fetch, lick, sniff and howl, but also responded to nurturing; if you treated it well, it would be more affectionate.
Fun fact: In some ways Teksta was better than a real dog – the robot could do card tricks!
2011 – Doggie Doo
It’s a game of scooping up after your dog, and while this may sound bizarre it proved to be a huge hit with kids in 2011. Players feed the Dachshund plasticine ‘food’ then roll a dice to see how many times they have to pump the lead, and before long the pup poops. Launched across Europe and in the US, it has now sold more than one million units.
Fun fact: In France, the game is known as Tou Tou Rista and was named Game of the Year for 2011
Image via Geek Alerts
2012 – Furby (Re-Furbished!)
One of the biggest toys of the 90s, 2012 saw the Furby return with a vengeance, with December demand seeing the critters selling out in many UK stores. The gurgling voice and wiggling ears have been upgraded, and a raft of sensors and LCD eyes make the new Furby even more interactive. What’s more, it learns – meaning it will behave differently depending on how you treat it. Enjoying the upgrades that today’s advances in technology have provided, including its own smartphone and tablet app, could this be the ultimate retro revival toy?
Fun fact: The original Furby was banned from the offices of the US National Security Agency, as it was feared that its ability to record conversations and communicate them could compromise state security.
Image via Baby Loving Mama
Tipped for 2013! – Symphony in B
A toy which allows kids to conduct their own orchestra – it lets youngsters create their own classical music by placing colourful instruments in an orchestral pit. It is aimed at children as young as three and comes with thirteen different instruments that can be placed in the centre of the plastic pit in different combinations. The Symphony in B has already picked up awards stateside after its launch last year, where it was named the Top Toy of 2012. By giving children the chance to choose their own way to play, and to create a unique outcome, could this game hold the recipe for lasting success?
What do you think? Will you be buying your own children the toys you loved yourself as a child? Or maybe, like me, you’ve actually kept some of your own toys to pass on to them? I’m certainly very keen to make sure my children have similar toys to me, those that prompt imagination or get them outside. Because, in this modern world, I’m very wary about my children being on a games console for too long too soon.