Best Selling Toys of Our Childhood

Children of the 80's and 90's were big business. To appease our lust for small plastic things, megastores devoted completely to toys were created. During our childhoods Toys 'R Us, KB Toys, Child World, and Noodle Kidoodle rose from small specialty stores into multi-million dollar corporations. The early 80's saw the invention of the Happy Meal; even our food needed to include a toy or we weren't even happy. With Christmas approaching, lets look back at the toys we probably gave our parents anxiety attacks to buy and investigate the best sellers of our childhood.  

1983 - My Little Pony  Little girls everywhere were tricked into buying small plastic horses with non-functioning limbs, but they could comb their hair!

1984 - Care Bears, Cabbage Patch Kids Dolls

The coming of the Cabbage Patch was the advent of total toy hysteria. In one year, sales reached $2,000,000, with riots breaking out in stores and people dying. That is right, people died to get their hands on a doll. While Cabbage Patch Kids brought forth a bloody reign of terror, someone had the vision to create multicolored bears with special powers that lived in the sky. He was later committed, but his visions became The Care Bears.

1985 - Transformers. Optimus Prime was THE toy to have This year saw Optimus Prime blow the Cabbage Patch dolls out of the water. Transformers brought the idea of a show created completely to sell toys to the world. 1986 - Pictionary '86 was when Pictionary made its board game debut to the world. Even though I know we owned one at one point, I just can't imagine paying for this game today. All that is needed is literally a pad of paper and a pencil. You also probably need friends. Pictionary without friends is how you end up sharing a room with the creator of Care Bears. 1987 - Koosh Ball, Nintendo

By 1987 the Nintendo Entertainment System was ruling the world and the first Christmas present I remember recieving.  The NES was sold more as a toy for everyone in the household, something that the industry has come full circle back to with the Wii.   The stockings that year were undoubtedly filled with Koosh balls. Koosh balls totally took the fun out of the concept of a ball. No matter how hard one throws a Koosh ball at another person, it does not hurt. Parents loved them, but what child actually had fun with those things? 1988 - Ghostbusters. Proton Packs and Slimer dolls

My proudest possession as a kid, the Ghostbusters Proton Pack was just a big hollow piece of plastic. Ghostbusters toys of all kinds destroyed all other products on the market in '88.

1989 - Tim Burton's Batman Toys The Dark Knight might have been hotly anticipated and received, but the buzz around the original movie reinvention was even more widespread in its time.  I remember little about the '89 christmas besides all the Batman related gifts from Santa. In my head at the time, Batman probably was Santa. 1990 - Ninja Turtle Action figures Action figures continued to reign into the 90's, as the Ninja Turtles took the place of Ghostbusters and Batman.

1991 - Gameboy  Wait, I can bring Nintendo everywhere I go? I can play Mario on the long car ride to my aunts? The Gameboy is still the best selling handheld gaming console of all time to this day. 1992 - WWF Figures, Thunderbirds Island Although I remember getting WWF toys in the early 90's, my web research revealed that the Thunderbirds' Island playset was selling out in toy stores in 1992.  This led to massive shortages and the company that produced them could not even come close to meeting demand. 1993 - Power Ranger everything, Talk Boy

After Home Alone 2, Hasbro received bags of letters from fans asking when the Talk Boy would be released. The toy in the movie was a non-working prop, but based on the hype the company decided to actually release a Talk Boy to market. Children went absolutely insane for the Talk Boy. I remember my parents driving me a full hour to a Toys 'R Us in another county in order to get the Talk Boy.

Looking back, the Talk Boy was nothing but a cheap tape recorder with a handle on it, I could have made that with a trip to Radio Shack and duct tape.

Power Rangers also made their mark on toy stores around the country and sold out everywhere they were stocked. 

1994 - Magic Eye books and posters I hated these things. Hated them more than almost anything from my childhood. Everyone I knew could look at them and be amazed, but I couldn't see a single thing. 1995 - POGS, Star Wars Action Figures For a full review of the POG phenomenon, check out my full story.  POGs came and went in a flash, but did their damage while they were here. School yards became casinos and many of us got our first taste at running a business, selling slammers and ALF POGs to other children. Meanwhile, George Lucas woke from his decades long slumber and began to draw up his plans to make money once again from Star Wars. What would eventually lead to the Special Editions and Prequels, started by getting the younglings hooked again. Unfortunately, most children were left with toy shelves filled with nothing but toys of the supporting cast of Ewoks and Lando's helper guy with the giant headphones (is it sad I know his name is Lobot?), as collectors tore through every delivery looking for the "valuable" main characters and rare editions.

1996 - Tickle Me Elmo, Buzz Lightyear For young kids, 1996 was ruled by the little shaking red fur-ball. Older kids craved Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. Toy stores basically gave up on stocking Buzz Lightyears as parents dug through piles of Woody dolls trying to find him.  Hardly by coincidence, the search for Buzz Lightyear dolls might remind you of the plot of another 1996 holiday classic, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Jingle All The Way.

1997 - Tamagotchi, Beanie Babies A toy that can die from filling its little environment with feces was the biggest seller of 1999. The Tamagotchi came over from Japan and the little egg keychain became the "it toy" of the holiday season that year.  Even children without keys would fill their Tamagotchi's chains with something, more Tamagotchis. 1997 was also the peak for another fad that children blew all their money on, Beanie Babies. Children and even parents started to believe that the value of these little stuffed animals to be so great that they could retire on them. They bought cases, dust sleeves for the tags, and collector's magazines. At their peak, Beanie Babies were almost a currency greater than gold. Now, you can get a Beanie Baby at a garage sale for a dollar. 1998 - Furby, Yo-Yo Basically an animatronic Tamagotchi, the Furby was like if Teddy Ruxpin and a gremlin had a drunken prom night. Out of nowhere, the yo-yo returned in 1998 and this time instead of being cheap, evolved into a high-end specialty toy.  The more mechanisms, lights, and sleeping time the yo-yo had the better. I remember feeling guilty for reading comics and playing video games and not practicing yo-yoing (is that even a word. What is the verb form or yo-yo?). 1999 - Baby Furby Not much to say about Baby Furbys. They were Furby's but smaller, and we all fell for it. 2000 - Teksta Robotic Dog, Razor Scooter Robots continued to dominate in toy sales and the Furby evolved into dog form with the Teksta. Most memorably the new millennium  brought the Razor Scooter, a small fold up metal scooter that turned into a fad. The Razor disappeared eventually, as it was basically useless as a form of transportation or to anyone over the height of 4 feet. These are just the top performers, I am sure we all had other items of desire. Discuss in the comments about other toys you remember from your childhood.

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13 Responses to “Best Selling Toys of Our Childhood”

  1. Alexandra Harcharek December 10, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    OMFG BUZZ LIGHTYEEEEEAR. Still have my original one, which we got in Disney World that year.

    I remember the frenzy that would break out any time the toy store would get a new shipment of Beanie Babies. Wow. Now we have literally dozens of them just lying around in the basement. Definitely a good way to spend my money…

  2. Tom Ng December 11, 2008 at 8:54 am #

    my little brother learned about death when i shook his furby. it malfunctioned and never awoke. it was one of the worst days of our live.

  3. Dennis DiPasquale December 11, 2008 at 12:25 pm #


    I was out on a date with someone who broke one of those things out to feed it or something during a movie and again at dinner. I hated them ever since. Up to that point I actually liked the girl. Sadly, things never progressed to the disturbing point where she might have stopped other activities to play with it.

    But can you imagine this confusing conversation:
    -So how was last night’s date?
    -Well, things were going great until she whipped out her tomagotchi and started playing with it.
    -Her what? On the first date?! That’s a bad thing?!

    Ah memories. :-P

  4. Emily Kostic December 11, 2008 at 1:54 pm #

    haha I actually throughly enjoyed this! OMG! Reminds me of my childhood :-/ I am madly in love with your blog. Both you and Alex have inspired me to get the wordpress upgrade. I thank you for that! haha

  5. yelinna December 29, 2008 at 8:21 pm #

    I have my old ponies from 80s and 90s!!! And now I playm my old supernintendo favorite games on my PC, yupiii!!

    • ned cujoo November 30, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

      Hello kitty or betty boop is one thing but ponys how old are you huh.

  6. Kelvin clayn January 25, 2009 at 4:22 am #

    I am amazed with it. It is a good thing for my research. Thanks. ^_^

  7. Daniella April 19, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    I love my little ponnies. I came to this website because I was assigned a research report about toys. When I went to I found a link to this website. Gosh! I remember all the good times with the good olden day toys. To go back would be amazing!(:

  8. bieber beauty September 21, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    what does the word modern mean

  9. Jeny April 21, 2012 at 2:48 am #

    Interesting! what about Mexican jumping beans? they were so much fun as a child…we spent hours laughing as they bounced around. found them again online at

    too much fun!!

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