Christmas favorites from yesteryear – which ones have you had?

With just a few days to go, we’ve decided to look back on some of the must-have Christmas gifts from years gone by. Which ones do you remember?

Is there a toy more associated with the 1950s than the Hula Hoop? The plastic version was released in 1957 and 100 million hoops had been sold by the end of the decade. At the height of their popularity, Wham-O, the company behind the Hula Hoop, made 20,000 hoops a day.

Play-Doh launched in 1956, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Play-Doh was originally invented as a wallpaper cleaner in the 1930s before finding a second life as the ideal molding toy for children. This Play-Doh scent will bring back Christmas memories to many children. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Play-Doh on its “Toy Century List”.

Barbie was launched in 1959. Before Barbie all dolls were based on babies. Barbie took the dolls to a more adult world of fashion and activities. Much copied, Barbie is still the queen of dolls. Since 1959, over 800 million Barbie family dolls have been sold worldwide.

Two toys also released in the 1950s were the Airfix and Scalextric series and, like Barbie, achieved worldwide success in the 1960s.


Following the success of Barbie, British children received Sinday, a trendy doll inspired by Swinging London and the success of models such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton.

TV links have also become popular, with Thunderbirds and Daleks hitting the shelves of toy stores.

Etch-a-Sketch was a drawing toy that looked like a small TV and was released early in the decade and looked like something from the future, a future where you could only draw straight lines, that was until in 1965 when Spirograph invented the curve.

A good example of the evolution of mentalities, the Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army) topped Santa’s gift list for the majority of little boys in 1964. A cannon that offered seven different functions like the grenade launcher and anti-tank rockets. Such a toy would never come off the drawing boards today, let alone in stores. Many middle-aged men probably still bear the scars to this day of waking up on Christmas morning and not finding a Johnny Seven OMA among the presents.


Like the Hula Hoop in the 1950s, the Raleigh Chopper Bike became, along with flares, platform shoes and tank tops, a short cut for the 1970s. And for good reason, the Chopper is truly a phenomenon of the 1970s. With its lifespan being that of a decade, it first hit stores in 1969 with production ceasing in 1980. With sales of around 1.5m bikes, the Chopper is credited with having saved Raleigh from bankruptcy.

To mark its success and importance to Raleigh, the millionth Chopper made was a gold-plated model. And just like the Johnny Seven, if your parents never bought you one, the pain was deep and you started to suspect that you were in fact adopted. In 2014, Halfords began selling the Chopper Hot One Limited Edition.

The 1970s saw the growth of portable cassette players, which gave birth to home recording – the illegal downloading of the time – the advent of mixing and taking your music with you. Does this all sound familiar to you? Other toys strongly associated with the 1970s are the Klacker Balls, Space Hoppers, Pogo Sticks, Tonka Toys (for the tough guys) and the Evil Knievel Stunt Bike.


Two of the best-selling “toys” of the 1980s were both designed in 1979. Neither the Rubik’s Cube nor the Trivial Pursuit can be described as toys, but both have become phenomenal hits and found their way into the world. many Christmas trees.

First released in stores in 1982, in 1984 Trivial Pursuit sold 20 million editions of the game. In 1993 it was elected to the Games Hall of Fame by Games magazine.

Another popular gift from the 1980s that first saw the light in the late 1970s was the Sony Walkman. A prototype was developed in 1978 and was marketed in Japan a year later. Symbol of modernity and break with the past, the Walkman was a hit with the youth of the 80s.

A multitude of dolls and figurines with television attachments were also popular; Garfield, Care Bears, Cabbage Patch Kids, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man, Trolls and Transformers have all found their place under the Christmas trees of young people across the country.


The bond between hit TV shows and toys grew even stronger in the ’90s with the Teletubbies (Eh-oh, Laa Laa), the Power Rangers of Mighty Morphin.

And the 90s also saw the game make tremendous progress.

Sega’s first Mega Drive arrived in Europe in 1990 and there was also the Game Boy and the Super Nintendo, giving us Pokémon, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Mario.

The Pog craze was less high-tech. Also popular were Tamagotchi, digital pets that you had to feed and water. If you didn’t, your Tamagotchi would die. Who needs this kind of stress? Well, back in the 90s having the power of life and death over digital life forms was all the rage.

Spice Girls dolls were also popular, and every generation has a nostalgic trip – back in the ’90s there were the Thunderbirds who saw adults foggy-eyed and shell out for their own Tracy Island.


With technology advancing tremendously, the new millennium saw the future arrive in the form of the first iPod and MP3 player like no other, which became Apple’s taste for things to come. This was followed by the iPod Touch.

Nintendo launched the Wii in 2006, while the Xbox had entered our living rooms the year before. Sony released the original Playstation in the mid-1990s, along with the Playstation 2, one of the best-selling game consoles in stores in time for Christmas 2000. The PS3 was added in 2006.

For the younger members of the family, must-have toys were Bob the Builder and Bratz, while Doctor Who and the Daleks had a huge revival.

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