From Monopoly to the Rubik’s Cube and Gameboy, a whole host of crazes have taken the world by storm over the past few decades. But how many of these top-selling Christmas gifts from yesteryear are you old enough to remember? Chris Price reports
Everyone remembers that one special toy they just had to have for Christmas when they were a child. Maybe you drove your parents crazy begging for your first Gameboy? Or maybe it was the must-have Barbie you received in your stocking that left you completely overjoyed? For me it was the Rubik’s Cube (pictured above).
Whatever it was, there’s no getting away from the fact that there’s always a new Christmas craze getting children excited each year. Here, we look back at the top-selling Christmas gifts from the last 80 years to discover the long-forgotten but must-have items everyone wanted – from the 1930s to the present day.
The hit property game may have first come out over 80 years ago, but it’s still one of the most played board games of all time. Originally known as the Landlord’s Game, it’s become a family favourite with over 750 million users worldwide.
Fun fact: The original Monopoly game was based on Atlantic City, in New Jersey.
Blonde, beautiful and unashamedly ambitious, Barbie was one of the first adult dolls ever marketed to young American girls. Created by businesswoman Ruth Handler and her company Mattel Inc., Barbie went on to become a global icon, and sell over a billion dolls worldwide.
Fun fact: Barbie has had more than 130 careers – she’s been everything from a game developer, to an astronaut and Sea World trainer.
Designed to emulate the success of Barbie, Hot Wheels was another invention by Mattel Inc. but this time targeted at boys. The line-up of die-cast toy cars became an international craze and one of the most popular collectables among kids and adults worldwide.
Fun fact: There are over 4 billion Hot Wheels toy cars in the world – more than the number of real cars on the road!
Attempted by millions and notoriously hard to solve, the Rubik’s Cube wasn’t originally designed as a toy – but as a teaching tool. The hit puzzle was created in 1974, but wouldn’t be marketed internationally until 1980. Incredibly, over 350 million of the 3×3 cube-shaped toys have now been sold.
Fun fact: The world record for completing the Rubik’s Cube is just 4.69 seconds!
Grow up in the nineties? Then chances are you probably owned a Gameboy or knew someone who did. Nintendo’s must-have console was as an instant hit when it first came out, and kick-started a global craze of hand-held consoles. The first Gameboy was also hugely successful thanks it’s pocket size, changeable cartridges and addictively-fun games like Tetris.
Fun fact: A whopping 118 million Gameboys have now been sold worldwide.
The Tamagotchi was one of the 90’s biggest fads, thanks to its cute egg-shaped design and need for constant food, care and attention. The digital pets were so engrossing that many schools ended up banning them. But despite the playground crackdown, over 76 million Tamagotchis have been sold to date.
Fun fact: The word Tamagotchi comes from the Japanese word “tamago” which means “egg” and the English word “watch”.
From Pokémon Red and Blue to Pokémon Go, the Pokémon franchise has been enthralling kids for decades. In 1999, it was Pokémon trading cards that were the year’s biggest craze, taking playgrounds by storm and trading for staggering sums.
Fun fact: The Pokémon cards became such a popular collectible among children, that over 23.6 billion have now been sold globally.
With its iconic white earphones and super sleek design, the iPod was the must-have gadget of 2001. Not only did the MP3 player revolutionise how we listen to music, but it also helped Apple become one of biggest players in the tech world. Over 100 million iPods have been sold worldwide.
Fun fact: Ever since Apple discontinued the iPod Classic, the model has been reselling for as much as £1,000 online.
2005 – Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 was only the second release in the Xbox console range, but the huge buzz surrounding its UK release caused it to sell out within hours on its launch day. A favourite with gamers thanks to its new Xbox Live feature that doubles up as online entertainment hub, more than 84 million Xbox 360 consoles have been sold to date.
Fun fact: Retailing at £299, the Xbox 360 is one the most expensive top-selling Christmas presents from the last twenty years.
Hot on the heels of the game-changing iPod and iPhone, in 2010 Apple released a new innovative gadget to the market called the iPad. The tablet’s lower-than-expected price tag, helped it spark a new worldwide trend and cemented Apple’s status as one of tech’s most innovative companies of all time.
Fun fact: The iPad was so popular it spawned a whole host of new accessories, including an iPad compatible vest!
2017 – Can you predict this year’s top-selling gift?
The countdown to Christmas 2017 is already well under way, but which gadget, tech or toy will be this year’s top-selling gift. Will the Sonos One be this year’s must-have item? Or will the iPhone X be the runaway favourite? Although most industry experts have placed their bets, this year’s best-selling item is still anyone’s guess.