What are your happiest Christmas memories? Do you remember what you asked for from Santa? And how do they differ from what kids are asking for nowadays?
To celebrate the Christmas season, from the Late Late Toy Show to those magical Christmas mornings, we’re taking a look at some of the nation’s favourite toys from the past 50 years.
We’ll break it down by decade, from the 1970s to the 2010s. See if any of your old favourites make the list…
Ah the 70s, when beige ruled the world and health and safety was a myth. Here are the biggest toys in Ireland from that era…
Launched in 1970, the Nerf ball was dubbed the first ‘indoor’ ball. Their slogan was, “You can’t damage lamps or break windows. You can’t hurt babies or old people.” We fully endorse this positive attitude to the safety of babies and the elderly!
The Nerf ball was fun, safe and iconic, so no wonder it sold over four million units worldwide.
My Pet Rock
Typically, pets tend to be fluffy, cute and, well, not a rock. But back in the 70s, “My Pet Rock” took the world by storm, essentially attaching googly eyes to stones. Times were simpler back then…
The super-stretchy action figure could (depending on how ambitious you were) expand to four feet. Just watch out for when it snaps back! Stretch Armstrong was in pretty good shape for someone who – in earliest models – was filled with corn syrup.
Did you know that at one stage Taylor Lautner from Twilight was going to play Stretch in a movie? It never came to pass. Probably for the best.
This decade was a formative era for a lot of us, but sometimes it feels like it never went away, as kids watch 80s-set series like Stranger Things; bands use synths and Star Wars films are back.
The first toy on our list is still on Christmas lists to this day…
Just about every kid wanted a Transformer when they hit the shelves in 1984. (Some of us had to make do with Gobots.) These robots that turned into cars, trucks and (later) dinosaurs fired up the imagination.
Thanks to a string of Michael Bay movies, new cartoons and new Transformers toys, the “Robots in Disguise” are still captivating kids.
1987 saw a very different toy launch: Sylvanian Families were delightful little animals in people clothes. Kids adored them and likely so did the marketing people – these little scamps were immensely collectable, and appeared in Christmas, birthday and other present lists for many years to come.
They’re still popular now in fact, and yes, we sell them.
Cabbage Patch Kids
The jury’s still out on whether these toddler dolls are cute or not, but man, they were a hot property in the 80s. In fact, they even made news headlines one Christmas when they were selling out in shops across the US and Europe.
These dolls even came with their own paperwork. Do you still have your Cabbage Patch Kid adoption certificate?
My Little Pony, Care Bears and Trivial Pursuit
Before we leave this incredible decade, it’s fair to give a shout out to toys that are still a draw. My Little Pony has a hit animated show and a range of gorgeous toys; Care Bears are still rocking; and Trivial Pursuit is constantly updated and continues to be a family board game staple to this day.
This was the decade of grunge, the birth of reality TV (hello, The Real World!) and Britney.
It was also the era of pizza-loving, martial arts masters who happened to be turtles…
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Heroes in A Half Shell – Turtle Power!” Good luck getting that out of your head for the rest of the day.
Ironic, witty, hip and just a little weird, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were peak 1990s.
The first videogame item on the list, the Nintendo Gameboy is still one of the biggest selling consoles of all time. It sold (brace yourself) over 100 million units in its lifespan.
Addictive, intuitive and with a seemingly endless range of classic games, Nintendo Gameboy deserves its legendary status.
We sell a few Gameboy related products, by the way.
We love these little guys. Polly Pockets were the friends you could take anywhere, with miniature buildings and even smaller inhabitants. (Officer McDimples in the recent Toy Story is clearly influenced by these toys.)
Oh, and guess what? You can still buy Polly Pockets today!
The 2000s was the decade of Moulin Rouge, Lizzie Maguire and iPods. Oh, and remember when Fast Food Nation made us give up junk food for 10 minutes? Good times.
Here are the hot toys from that decade…
These nifty little vehicles added much needed speed to playgrounds and school runs. Many of the kids who loved these Razor Scooters grew up, became hipsters and commuted to work on them!
Like a cross between Barbie and the movie Mean Girls, Bratz had style and attitude to spare. Bursting onto the toy scene in 2001, they conquered the world in their epic heels and even got a movie spin-off of their own.
At the time, this seemed like the mightiest games console you could ever buy. The Xbox 360 sold 5.5 million units in its first six months and it was one that really brought online gaming to the mainstream with hits like Halo.
Now of course, the Xbox One is the new and improved model.
Anyone up for a game of Mariokart?
The Nintendo Wii changed how we played games, getting millions of us up off our couches and waving wands at the screen to bowl, fish or swing a sword.
Nintendo continue to innovate, and their Switch console is an inventive mix of a handheld and living room device.
This past decade was an eventful one, where we got into electric cars, 3D printers and everyone got a smart phone. Also, Star Wars came back… again!
Disney churn out so much pop culture history that it’s easy to take them for granted. But Frozen left an undeniable mark, combining sisterhood, beautiful visuals and – of course – power ballads.
Unsurprisingly, Elsa Dolls and Frozen merchandise continue to fly off the shelves. With the arrival of Frozen 2, that’s not going to slow down any time soon.
Every Star Wars era has a cute robot (or “droid”), and little BB8 was the plucky little hero for this generation.
A ball atop a ball, BB8 rolled across our living rooms and into our hearts. Of the many (many!) Star Wars toys and merch we have, this one is especially beloved.
These little cars could feature in one of the previous decade’s lists, but they’re still hugely popular, having seen a resurgence this past decade. From elaborate rollercoaster-style tracks and garages to cars, trucks and remote-control vehicles, Hot Wheels are a consistent favourite for kids (and grown-up kids!).
Another golden oldie, Lego dates back many decades. But, following the surprisingly awesome Lego Movie, genius spinoffs like Ninjago and countless movie and videogame tie-ins, Lego is bigger than ever.
Lego has an immense range of kits and merchandise, and we have just about all of it!
Hottest toys for Christmas 2019
As the year and decade come to a close (seriously, where did that decade go?), we take a look at the hottest toys for this Christmas. We hope you’ve been good this year, because there’s some pretty cool stuff in the list below…
Barbie is celebrating a big birthday this year, and she’s looking good for 60. Her eclectic career has included tour guide, princess and – in recent years – pilot. And she has an eye for property, from dream houses to more modest camper vans.
The idea behind Pictionary is simplicity itself – competitive drawing and guessing! But the game has taken a giant leap this year, with Pictionary Air, which lets you draw outlines in the air with a high-tech pen.
Family board games just got a little cooler.
These toys combine a number of kids’ obsessions – namely dolls and unboxing. In fact, they were created with unboxing in mind, as opening and unwrapping videos are among the most popular channels on YouTube.
LOL Surprise! toys have sold upward of 800 million units, as a whole generation of kids embrace the bright world of surprise and glitter.
Vtech have conquered the world by combining education with entertainment. There are toys for kids of all age groups, including games and puzzles, soft toys and beginners’ tech (like tablets) and, for older kids, dinosaurs, cars and robots.