Radio Flyer Wagon
Originating in 1923, this little red wagon is still around today. While they’re not made of wood anymore, the steel and plastic ones still haul kids and their belongings around just fine.
The yo-yo was created in 1923 by Pedro Flores based a toy design that has been around for centuries. The Duncan family purchased the Flores company in 1929, and the rest is history. Around the world, the yo-yo still remains one of the cheapest forms of entertainment with a rabid following.
Many people don’t realize just how old the concept of a 3-dimensional book is. Dating back to the 1200’s, people have always been intrigued by the concept of movable art within a book. Today, it's so commonplace that greeting cards are created much the same way.
Mickey Mouse Toys
Everybody’s favorite rodent has been a star since the late 1920s. He’s easily one of the most recognizable characters to ever be created and is still licensed in multiple sizes of plush dolls in every conceivable outfit.
What began as an offshoot for a sock maker turned into one of the best-loved stuffed toys. Emerging in 1932 as a soft toy--their red lips emerged out of adding a red heel to Rockford socks. The sock monkey brings good luck and has come a long way--it's featured in comics, books and even on an album cover for Sonic Youth.
Red Ryder BB Gun
These simple, spring-air BB guns fire at low velocity and are great for shooting tin cans. They were made famous by the classic holiday film, A Christmas Story. Have fun--just don’t shoot your eye out, kid!
These tiny plastic soldiers were first made in 1938 and have been a toy aisle staple ever since. Their popularity came roaring back to life in the 1990’s thanks to a little movie called Toy Story.
Beginning as a visual postcard launched during the 1939 World’s Fair, the View-Master is the grandfather of modern-day VR headsets. In the 50s and 60s cartoon companies utilized them to showcase their characters, and sound was even added in the 70s.
This tiny stocking stuffer has been keeping hands busy since the 1940s. In its heyday, it was used by kids to lift newsprint cartoons. This seemingly simple toy now gets marketing as Thinking Putty, but the concept is still the same--keeping hands busy.
Fisher-Price Little People
What started out as round-headed, painted peg people evolved into a million-dollar collectors’ item. Little People allowed children to interactively play with school busses, planes, and barns. However, they have evolved into plastic characters with discernable bodies.
Paint by Numbers
First created in the 1920’s a way for ordinary people to create art, this simple toy has evolved into numerous iterations that include famous works of art, spirited horses, and famous landmarks. You can now have a favorite picture turned into paint-by-number kit!
Mr. Potato Head
This guy and his cute little wife entered the scene in the 1950s. It originally debuted as push pins you could stick into a real potato or other vegetable. However, rotting veggies inspired the creators to create a plastic potato body. If you think about it, it's one of the weirdest toys around but is still beloved by so many.
Created in the 1950s, this plastic stickball version elevates the game to a different level. The ball, which is full of holes, allows the pitcher to throw a tremendous variety of pitches and hitters to ‘whiff’ when they miss. Hitting them super hard doesn’t propel them any farther than a normal swing.
Matchbox Cars/Hot Wheels
Introduced in 1953, these tiny, collectable die-cast cars were sold in small boxes resembling a matchbox, hence the name. In the mid-60s, Hot Wheels debuted with ‘American racing cars’ and the competition between brands was fierce. A good Matchbox or Hot Wheels will set you back $1 and they’re still as popular as they’ve ever been.
Another hot stocking stuffer was invented in 1950s Austria and exported worldwide--a candy dispenser that dispenses tiny candy bricks from under the ‘head’ of the character. Pez dispensers have been manufactured in every character you can think of at this point.
Debuting in 1950s in a metal can, Play-Doh was initially created to clean coal from wallpaper. However, these days you're much more likely to find children playing with it in every color imaginable!
These steel toy trucks have been around since the 1960s. Considered indestructible by parents; these sturdy yellow trucks have allowed kids all over America to move, dig, and dump dirt all over the place.
Its hard to overstate the continued popularity of this simple flying disc. Coming out in the 1950s, this simple item has been used in dog competitions and competitively by humans for decades; even having its own sport in disc golf.
Invented in 1957 by Arthur Holt and sold to Fisher Price for a mere $50, this iconic toddler toy is still popular for helping encourage kids to walk. Named for the sound of those tiny plastic balls hitting the plastic dome, toddlers still love them to this day!
Popularized in the 1950s and created from plastic tubing, it’s another simple toy that remains popular today. Gyrating like a hula girl will keep them afloat around your waist--a tactic that is much harder than it looks. Hooping has evolved into fitness activities and with tricks in large Vegas shows.
This fashion icon created in 1959 has seen numerous changes over the years due to problems with body image, diversity, and ample bosom--but the iconic pink logo remains the same. This doll is created at a 1/6th scale, known as playscale. Regardless of the careers Barbie has had, one thing is for certain--those tiny shoes are still a pain to keep up with.
Considered a good luck charm by many, these little plastic dolls were created by Danish fisherman Thomas Dam. The original was hand carved as a Christmas gift to his young daughter from his imagination. These wild-haired toys have experienced an enormous comeback in recent years with the Trolls movie franchise.
Etch A Sketch
The iconic red toy with 2 knobs has been around since 1960 and still confounds us today. Allowing the user to manipulate a stylus into straight lines (and curved if you’re skilled enough) has wrought many an aluminum powder masterpiece--so easily disturbed by the faintest of shakes.
The simplest baby toy has been around since 1960. The original featured a slightly curved wooden base with six color rings in size order of largest to smallest. Designed for hand-eye coordination as well as color identification, it's been a staple for 9-month olds for decades--although it now only has five rings.
Slip 'n Slide
Nobody thinks about getting one of these at Christmas, but it doesn’t lessen the popularity any. Slip 'n Slide was designed in 1961 to allow children to enjoy a water slide in their very own yards. Having been enhanced with spray tubes and inflatable pools at the end, this summertime favorite still remains on the shelves 60 years later.
Another toddler toy to help with hand-eye coordination and mobility, the chatter telephone was created in 1962 and is a throwback to a simpler time. Kids loved to talk on it, drag it behind them, and dial up their favorite people. A simple bell inside helped with the ringing.
Everyone needs a hero, and G.I. Joe is here. Originating in 1964, G.I. Joe was created for boys to have a realistic toy, much like girls had Barbie. This action man also had numerous playsets, weapons, and a pretty complex backstory.
A mere 2-100-watt lightbulbs provide the heat for the Easy-Bake Oven created in 1963. Created in a variety of colors and styles, the oven produced many tiny cakes for kids all over the U.S. The oven has been modified to use a heating element these days, but the deliciousness of the cakes and the love they’re made with are still present today.
Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots
Taking your aggression out in a good old-fashioned game of robot boxing was an instant hit in 1964. Each player controls a robot and tries to TKO the other by knocking his head off in a plastic boxing ring. Today’s version features a more compact robot, but the concept remains as fresh as it was in 1964.
See 'n Say
Created as a developmental learning toy for toddlers in 1964, this round powerhouse toy spoke phrases or sounds at the pull of the string that set off a ‘mini plastic record’, enabling the child to mimic the sound and learn the words, colors, or letters. Later versions included popular characters, and modern versions have small computer chips.
Barrel of Monkeys
Nothing is more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and this 1965 toy by Lakeside Toys proves it. The barrel contains tiny, plastic monkeys that you link by their arms to form chains. Originally packaged in a tube, it became apparent that barrels were way more fun that tubes, and it stuck.
Who knew that the RC car was first created in 1966? The first cars were produced and ran on gas and radio waves before batteries were considered a safer choice for children. Created in all different iterations and venturing into air vehicles, RC cars are still one of the most popular Christmas presents today.
Debuting in 1967, this little light box toy featured little plastic pegs you stuck into a black screen to create art. Unfortunately, the original sets were a nightmare for lost pieces and little plastic boxes overheating due to the light bulbs. Their revival is making a comeback as Gen X longs for the simplicity. Safety features include LED lighting, ensuring that you don’t burn your hands while making art.
Created in sets and developed in the 1970s, Playmobil was the transition between Little People and Barbie/G.I. Joe. With simple body styles and playsets, kids would create scenarios for hours. Today, they include all kinds of inventive playsets, including desert islands, animal boarding, and dinosaurs.
Barbie Dream House
This playset has it’s own separate entry from Barbie for one reason--it became an iconic toy all on its own. Created in 1962, the original was made of foldable cardboard that was easily transported. However, future iterations had it standing over 3 feet high--Barbie enjoyed a 3-story townhouse with an ‘elevator’ and parking garage for her car.
That iconic foam ball and net set created in 1969 and billed as ‘the world’s first indoor ball’ has morphed into so much more. A whole new segment of population was introduced to NERF through toy blasters with foam darts, which later became more advanced with working scopes and attachments. Still a favorite under the Christmas tree, make sure you get the extra pack of darts when you give it.
Created in 1974 as an easier version of the Etch-a-Sketch, this toy allowed kids to draw by using a magnet-tipped stylus to pick up tiny magnetic particles and suspend them on a honeycomb. Fun fact--this toy is used by scuba instructors as an underwater whiteboard to instruct new students.
Created in 1974 by sculptor/professor Erno Rubik, this seemingly difficult puzzle toy has one solution, but 43 QUINTILLION combinations. The 80s saw Rubik's cube speed competitions that carry on to this today. Many engineers appreciate the architecture of this toy and the idleness of cubing while thinking.
Star Wars Action Figures
Created in 1977, Star Wars still holds a larger-than-life place in our lives today. Originally owned by Kenner, 12 original figures were distributed--and these will fetch a pretty penny on the resale market if they're in mint condition. This year, The Child and Mandalorian will be the hottest toys to have--owing in part to the incredible world of George Lucas.
Simon (created in 1978) seemed like a simple concept game, but it's been wildly popular. The premise is simple--press the colored buttons in the same order that your computer opponent Simon does--but it's hard to master, since the patterns get longer and faster the more you play.