You might be all grown up and serious about life now, but the truth is when you see a Ninja Turtle or a Gummi Bear you can’t help but remember your favourite character and the theme song… word for word. Don’t worry, you’re not alone – which is why this list of some of the most popular toys over the last few years will have you crooning nostalgic melodies faster than you can say cowabunga.
1. Raggedy Ann
Definitely one of the most popular toys of the 1900’s, the character was first created as a doll back in 1915 and then launched along with a book in 1918 – to great success. There wasn’t a little girl anywhere who couldn’t be found having tea with Raggedy Ann after school every day once she hit the scene. Something many might not know is that the Raggedy Ann doll was originally used as a symbol for the anti-vaccination movement when creator Johnny Gurelle’s daughter died at the age of 13 after receiving a smallpox shot at school without the consent of her parents.
2. Troll dolls
I remember going on holiday to Europe and seeing Troll dolls or ‘Gonks’ for the first time. I bought ten in order to be the coolest kid on the block only to find out that they’d exploded onto the toy scene in South Africa while I was away. They apparently come and go, as Troll dolls hit the scene back in 1965 then reappeared again in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, much to the delight of each generation in their time. Interestingly, the creator of the toy originally crafted it as a present for his daughter when he had no money to buy her anything for Christmas.
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Thanks to this creation, most kids can say the name of at least four Renaissance artists. Originally comic book characters, the butt-kicking turtles reached worldwide fame in the early 90’s. Most of us will remember how our favourite ninja’s suddenly became ‘heroes’ when European censorship boards deemed the word ‘ninja’ too violent.
4. Game Boy
First released in 1989 by Nintendo, the Game Boy handheld console became one of the biggest hits of the century in a matter of weeks, despite the fact that it had fierce competition from Atari at the time. It went on to become one of the biggest selling consoles of all-time.
5. My Little Pony
Another popular 80’s toy, most of you will remember some version of the ‘My Little Pony, skinny and bony’ song which circulated around school when the show came out. The brand has been re-launched a few times and has been running successfully for 25 years now, having taken root in pop culture with the ponies appearing on TV and movies in cameo roles.
One of the longest standing and most popular inventions for kids, Lego blocks have built an empire of followers that worship the plastic blocks and use them to create awe inspiring constructions all over the world.
She’s older than most of our parents, but Barbie has retained her status as one of the world’s most popular toys since her launch in the 50’s. She’s controversial, desirable and memorable, and almost every girl has thrown a tantrum for her at least once in her life.
8. Super Soaker
Siblings, parents, the family pet… who hasn’t been the victim of a Super Soaker attack at least once right? Originally called the Power Drencher, this water gun was one of the most desirable items of the 90’s. Using manually pressurised air to shoot someone with a streaming jet of water couldn’t sound more appealing. They were so popular, in fact, that most pump action water guns are referred to as Super Soakers these days, despite the fact that they may have different brand names.
9. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Castle Greyskull, Eternia, Skeletor, Battle Cat … and who can forget Dolph Lundgren in the 1987 live action movie? As one of the biggest franchises of the 90’s, the action figures and animated series had kids foaming at the mouth for a chance to scream ‘I have the Power!’
Little creatures that live inside a small egg and demand to be fed and entertained and loved… most kids fell prey to the technologically cool concept of a Tamagotchi toy, which actually just turned out to be a pain in the rear more often than not.
Jacky Letard started her career as a photographer and writer in Joburg before moving to Cape Town for fresher air and wicked scenery. Due to her ever growing love of the web and writing she now works as a content writer, writing about things from lego star wars, travel to lego city and furniture.
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