Iconic Childhood Toys
A walk down memory lane taking a look at toys that make sense in any era: slinky, snap bracelets, legos, matchbox cars, cabbage patch dolls, transformers, pokemon… and more! These toys have some real staying power, appealing to kids of all generations.
- Wooden Train Set: Marshal H. Larrabee II founded the Skaneateles Handicrafters in 1936. This toy company made wooden toy trains and wooden tracks.
- Mickey Mouse: The funny animal cartoon character and the official mascot of The Walt Disney Company was created by Walt Disney at the Walt Disney Studios.
- Duncan Yo-Yo: In 1932 Donald F. Duncan registered the name Yo -yo as a trade mark.
- Dr. Seuss: Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist most widely known for children’s picture books written and illustrated as Dr. Seuss. In 1937, while Geisel was returning from an ocean voyage to Europe, the rhythm of the ship’s engines inspired the poem that became his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
- Magic 8-Ball: An 8-ball was used as a fortune telling device in the 1940 Three Stooges short, You Nazty Spy, in which it was referred to as a “magic ball”.
- Legos: Lego began manufacturing interlocking toy bricks in 1949.
- Packaged Bubbles: Chemtoy began bottling its own bubble solution in 1940.
- Slinky: The toy was invented and developed by naval engineer Richard James in the early 1940s and demonstrated at Gimbels department store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in November 1945. The toy was a hit, selling its entire inventory of 400 units in ninety minut
- Crayola Crayons: Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith. The brand’s first box of eight Crayola crayons made its debut in 1903. In 1949, Crayola introduced the “Crayola 48” containing 48 color crayons in a “stadium seating” box.
- Water Balloon: The first commercially marketed water balloon was produced by Edgar Ellington in 1950, while trying to invent a waterproof sock to solve the disease known as trench foot.
- Silly Putty: Originally invented, on accident, by James Wright, working at General Electric’s New Haven, Connecticut lab in 1943.
- Paint by Number Kits: The kits were invented, developed and marketed in 1950 by Max S. Klein, an engineer and owner of the Palmer Paint Company of Detroit, Michigan and Dan Robbins, a commercial artist
- Matchbox Cars: Introduced by Lesney Products in 1953 and is now owned by Mattel, Inc. The brand was so named as the original die-cast Matchbox toys were sold in boxes similar in style and size to those in which matches were sold.
- Tonka Trucks: The Dakota Sioux word “Tanka” or Tonka, which means “Great” or “Big”, the company Mound Metalcraft began selling metal toys. On November 23, 1955, Mound Metalcraft changed its name to Tonka Toys Incorporated.
- Play-Doh: The product was first manufactured in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., as a wallpaper cleaner in the 1930s. When a classroom of children began using the wallpaper cleaner as a modeling compound, the product was reworked and marketed to Cincinnati schools in the mid-1950s.
- Barbie: This fashion doll was manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel, Inc. and launched in March 1959.
- Troll Doll: Also known as a Dam doll, the Troll Doll is a type of plastic doll with furry hair depicting a troll. They were originally created in 1959 by Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam.
- Mr. Potato Head: Looks like he’s had a little work done since then. The toy was invented and developed by George Lerner in 1949, and first manufactured and distributed by Hasbro in 1952.
- Etch A Sketch: A mechanical drawing toy invented by French inventor André Cassagnes and subsequently manufactured by the Ohio Art Company in 1960.
- Ken Doll: Ken (Ken Carson) is a Mattel toy doll introduced by Mattel in 1961 as the fictional boyfriend of toy doll Barbie introduced in 1959. Similar to his female counterpart, Ken had a fantastically fashionable line of clothing and accessories.
- G.I. Joe: G.I. Joe is a line of action figures produced by the toy company Hasbro. The original 12-inch line that began in 1964 centered on realistic action figures.
- Easy Bake Oven: A working toy oven introduced by Kenner in 1963, and currently manufactured by Hasbro. The original toy used an ordinary incandescent light bulb as a heat source; current versions use a true heating element.
- Lite-Brite: Created by Hasbro in 1967, it allows the user to create glowing designs. It is a light box with small colored plastic pegs that fit into a matrix of holes and illuminate to create a lit picture.
- Slip and Slide: The Slip ‘n Slide is a toy manufactured by Wham-O, first introduced in 1961 after being invented by Robert Carrier
- Shrinky Dinks: Invented in 1973 by two housewives of Brookfield, Wisconsin, as a Cub Scout project with their sons.
- Baby Alive: A baby doll made by Hasbro that eats, drinks, wets and in some cases messes. Its mouth moves. It is marketed as being lifelike. It was originally made and introduced by Kennerin 1973, and reintroduced by Hasbro in 2006.
- Stretch Armstrong: The original Stretch Armstrong figure was conceived and developed by Bill Armasmith, and was in production from 1976 until 1980 when production was stopped. The original 1970s Stretch is very collectible now and commands high prices on the secondary collectors’ market, selling for hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
- Rubik’s Cube: A 3-D combination puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik.
- Nerf Ball: Parker Brothers originally developed Nerf, beginning with a four-inch polyurethane foam ball. In 1970, the Nerf ball was introduced as the “world’s first official indoor ball”, the name “Nerf” being a slang term for the foam padding used in off-road racing.
- Cabbage Patch Kids: A line of dolls created by American art student Xavier Roberts in 1978. It was originally called “Little People”.
- Slap Bracelet: Invented by Wisconsin teacher Stuart Anders and sold under the brand name “Slap Wrap”, the slap bracelet was a popular fad among children, pre-teens andteenagers in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was available in a wide variety of patterns and colors.
- Care Bears: The Care Bears are characters created by American Greetings in 1981 for use on greeting cards. The original artwork for the cards was painted by artist Elena Kucharik. In 1983, Kenner turned the Care Bears into plush teddy bears.
- My Little Pony: Following the original My Pretty Pony toy, introduced in 1981, My Little Pony was launched in 1983 and the line became popular during the 1980s.
- Koosh Ball: A toy ball made of rubber filaments (strings) attached to a soft rubber core. It was developed in 1986 by Scott Stillinger to be easy for his 5-year old daughter and 8-year old son to hold and throw, and was named after the sound it made when it landed.
- Teenage mutant ninja turtles: Created in an American comic book published by Mirage Studios in 1984 in Dover, New Hampshire. Figures were produced starting in 1986.
- Transformers: Generation One is a retroactive term for the Transformers characters that appeared between 1984 and 1993. The Transformers began with the 1980s Japanese toy lines Microman and Diaclone.
- Super Soaker: A brand of recreational water gun, first sold in 1990 by Larami and now produced by Hasbro under the Nerf brand.
- Beanie Baby: A line of popular stuffed animals, made by Ty Warner Inc., which was later renamed as Ty Inc. in late 1993.
- American Girl Doll: A line of 18-inch dolls released in 1986 by Pleasant Company. They were expanded in 1995 to include characters and stories from contemporary life. A variety of related clothing and accessories is also available.
- Tickle Me Elmo: The toy was introduced in the United States in 1996, quickly becoming a fad. The dolls’ short supply due to the unexpected demand led stores to increase their price drastically. Newspaper classifieds sold the plush toy for hundreds of U.S. dollars. People reported that the toy, originally sold at US $28.99, fetched as much as $1500
- Furby: An electronic robotic toy resembling a hamster or owl-like creature which went through a period of being a “must-have” toy following its launch in the holiday season of 1998. Its speaking capabilities were translated into 24 languages.
- Pokemon: A media franchise published and owned by Japanese video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996.
- Bratz: Fashion dolls and merchandise manufactured by MGA Entertainment.Four original 10″ dolls were released in 2001 –Cloe, Jade, Sasha and Yasmin.
- Zhu Zhu: Created in 2009, he original Zhu Zhu Pets are nine different characters, with names like Chunk, PipSqueak, Mr. Squiggles and Num Nums. There are also various accessories for creating customized hamster habitats
- Beyblades: A Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Takao Aoki in order to promote sales of spinning tops called “Beyblades” in 2000.
- Sponge Bob: The pilot episode first aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on May 1, 1999, following the television airing of the 1999 Kids’ Choice Awards. The show reached enormous popularity by 2000 during its second season, and has remained popular since.
- Razor Scooter: The first Razor scooter was distributed by The Sharper Image in 1999 and became extremely popular around 2000. Besides its primary use as a toy for the young, it is also used for sports and utility purposes.
- Mighty Beanz: Collectible toys manufactured by Moose Enterprises, a corporation headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. Moose launched Mighty Beanz in the Australian market in 2002; the toy launched in the United States that summer.
Which toys bring you back to your childhood? Are your favorite childhood toys on the list?