8 Classic Toys That Won Christmas

By Damian Davila on 7 December 2016 1 comment

When you're trying to connect with your child, nephew or niece, little cousin, or your best friend's kid, you may have a hard time getting their eyes away from Pokemon Go or the Elena of Avalor TV show.

Fortunately, as the holiday season is getting nearer, you have one great way to get their attention: must-have toys from yesteryear. From the Radio Flyer Wagon to the G.I. Joe action figure, let's walk down memory lane and review eight notorious holiday toys that still provide hours of entertainment.

1. Radio Flyer Wagon (1923)

I have learned many lessons after having twins. And one of them is that some classics just never go out of style. First known as the No. 4 Liberty Coaster and handcrafted in wood, the Radio Flyer Wagon was a must-have item in most lists of good boys and girls in the 1920s. Nowadays, these wagons are colored in their signature red, made out of stamped metal, and continue to encourage kids to go outside and play.

Fun fact: The inventor of this wagon, Antonio Pasin, named it after his two favorite inventions, the radio and the airplane.

2. Buck Rogers Rocket Pistol (1934)

First introduced in the Amazing Stories comic book series in 1928 and eventually landing his own TV series in the 1970s, the futuristic superhero Buck Rogers has been captivating audiences for nearly a century. Rogers' iconic rocket pistol was first sold in 1934 and made a signature "Zap!" sound. Getting your hands on an original one might be too expensive, but there are many manufacturers making plenty of much more affordable versions of the classic toy ray gun.

Fun fact: There are many versions of the Buck Rogers rocket pistol, including the XZ-31 Rocket Pistol, XZ-38 Disintegrator Pistol, and XZ-44 Liquid Helium Water Pistol.

3. Slinky (1945)

"It's Slinky; it's Slinky. For fun it's a wonderful toy. It's fun for a girl and a boy!" That TV jingle that has been hashed and rehashed for decades. Little changes has been made to the same Slinky walking spring toy that was a hit during the 1945 Christmas shopping season. Still, all of us still marvel at Slinky's nonstop journey down any set of stairs.

Fun fact: In recent years, most kids first got exposed to the Slinky while watching the Slinky Dog (also known just as "Slinky") character in the Toy Story movies from 1995, 1999, or 2010. Fans of the movie will be happy to hear that Slinky is coming back in a fourth installment in the series scheduled for 2019!

4. Lego (1958)

The name Lego is an abbreviation of the two Danish words "leg gods," meaning "play well." This is not only the company's name, but also its ideal. If you think that these little interlocking color blocks were invented in no time, think again. The Lego Group has been around since 1932 and it wasn't until 1949 that the group came up with the first design for the first set of blocks. It took nine years of tinkering to get the design of the Lego as we know it today. Besides the classic Lego set, you can find brick sets in a wide range of models, purposes, and colors.

Fun fact: Some Lego sets can become great investments: An Imperial Star Destroyer worth $249.99 in 2002 today is worth about $2,185 (a 774% return). (See also: 10 Places to Stash Your Money Besides a Savings Account)

5. Chatty Cathy (1959)

1959 was a great year for dollmakers, and they came out with many iconic dolls that are still beloved by little girls everywhere. First created in 1959, Chatty Cathy was groundbreaking as it could say 11 phrases, including "Let's play school" or "I love you," after pulling a string on her back. If you can get a hold on an original or reproduction version of Chatty Cathy, you'll definitely have a conversation starter as they are very hard to find nowadays.

Fun fact: Besides the original blonde and blue-eyed Cathy, Mattel also release a brunette Cathy and an African-American Cathy.

6. Barbie (1959)

While Cathy generally appealed to a younger set of girls, Barbie attracted many groups. With her virtually endless collection of accessories, clothing pieces, vehicles, and homes, Barbie is the top selling doll of all time. To address the consumer demand for Barbies with more realistic body shapes and more sensible career choices, Mattel has released updated dolls, including the Barbie Careers Game Developer Doll and the Barbie Fashionistas Doll & Fashions Emoji Fun, Curvy.

Fun fact: Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She is from Willows, Wisconsin and celebrates her birthday every March 9th (she'll be 58 in 2017!).

7. Etch A Sketch (1960)

Originally L'Ecran Magique, this toy was a total flop when it was first introduced in 1959 at an European toy fair. Still, the Ohio Art. Co saw the toy's potential, bought the rights, renamed it to Etch A Sketch, and released the mechanical drawing toy a year later in the U.S. Today, you can find the classic Etch A Sketch in a wide variety of sizes, including keychain-size and giant board.

Fun fact: The toy was so popular during its release that the Ohio Art Co.'s factory workers had to work until noon on Christmas Eve to meet demand!

8. G.I. Joe (1964)

The original G.I. Joe action figures stood 12-inches tall and represented four of the branches of the U.S. armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps). While the popularity of G.I. Joe drowned out over the next couple of years, the "real American Hero" was successfully relaunched in 1982 with a more kid-friendly size (3.75 inches, or 9.5 cms.), an animated TV miniseries, and an ongoing comic book. True to its fighting spirit, the Joes keep making a comeback to protect us against modern versions of their lethal archenemies, Cobra, as they did in the G.I. Joe movies in 2009 and 2013. Go Joe!

Fun fact: G.I. Joe and Barbie went out on a date in 1996 in a memorable Nissan TV commercial.

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Guest's picture
Lillie

Thanks for this now I got some new ideas for what I want for Christmas!!!

Damian Davila's picture

You're welcome, Lillie! Personally, I wouldn't mind a Radio Flyer Wagon that I could fit myself in. Have a Merry Christmas!