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Barbie (1959), Scalextric (1959) Etch-a-Sketch (1960), Ken doll (1961), Sindy (1963)

Barbie was introduced in 1959 and is one of the best-selling toys of all time. She was designed by Ruth Handler who got inspiration from the German doll, Lilli. She noticed most of the children's dolls at the time were of infant age, and wanted to create one that was an adult. Manufactured by toy company Mattel, they have now sold over a billion worldwide.

Barbie has received a lot of controversy due to her impossible body proportions. Since then, her proportions have been made a little bit more realistic and as of 2016, Barbie will be manufactured in a variety of body sizes – tall, petite, slim and curvy.

Gender specific toys have also become a topical subject, debated throughout the UK. For example, parents are discussing whether toys have the power to shape a child's career. Both boys and girls are now encouraged to play with dolls in many nurseries.

Sindy, a fashion doll created in 1963 in the UK was to rival Barbie and sold very well in Britain. She had more of a 'girl next door' look which suited the UK market. Unfortunately, her success stalled in the 1980's as it faced copyright lawsuits from Mattel who believed she looked too similar to Barbie.


The skateboard (1972), the Magna Doodle (1973), Stretch Armstrong (1976)

Stretch Armstrong was a short muscular action figure released in 1976. It got its name due to the ability to stretch to 4-5 feet in size, due to being made from latex rubber filled with corn syrup. He was very popular in the 70's but unfortunately in 1980 production ceased. Stretch Armstrong is now a collectors' item sold for hundreds and even thousands, when in good condition.

Stretch Armstrong

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Rubik's Cube

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Rubik's cube (1980), Cabbage Patch kids (1983), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1988), Game Boy (1989)

The Rubik's cube is a combination puzzle that was invented in 1974 by Hungarian engineer Erno Rubik. He was initially devising it to demonstrate to his students solving a structural problem of moving parts independently without the entire mechanism falling apart. He soon figured it was a puzzle when it got scrambled and he had to get it back to its original pattern. The aim of the puzzle is to get each of the 6 sides aligned to its colour.

It gained its popularity in the 1980's and today remains the best-selling puzzle game of all time. It can now be purchased in a number of dimensions, versions, shapes and designs.


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Tamagotchi (1996), Bop-it (1996), Furby (1998)

Furbys were released in 1998 by Tiger Electronics and were the first successful domestically-aimed robot. They sold very well in the years leading up to 2000, and 14 million were sold in 1999 alone. They came in a variety of colours, and patterns, and each furby had its individual story. They were relaunched in 2012 with a new line and more technically advanced features.

Nintendo Wii

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Bayblades (2000), Teksta the robot dog (2000), Bratz (2001), Nintendo Wii (2006)

Home video game console Wii was released by Nintendo in 2006, competing with XBOX 360 and PS3 but appealing to a much wider demographic, and marketed as a family game. The controller for Wii is wireless and was different from handheld game consoles. The evolution of the home games console is definitely a fascinating discovery. The Wii fit was designed as a fitness game and sold over 100 million worldwide. However, the Wii was not as popular as envisioned and ceased production after just 4 years.

Elsa from Frozen

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Frozen Elsa snow glow (2014), Peppa Pig Once Upon a Time Princess Rose doll (2015), Kinetic Sand (2013), Leap-pad platinum (2015)

The 2013 Disney film Frozen has been a hit in the UK and worldwide. Since its release it has made .3 billion and is the highest grossing animation of all time. It has won numerous awards, including a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. The movie is popular with all ages, and both genders. It's of no surprise that the Elsa Snow Glow doll, was such a popular toy last year. This year the Skate and Sing Elsa toy is due to be popular this Christmas.

Timeless Toys

Lego (1932), Barbie (1959) Twister (1964), Hot Wheels (1968) Mouse trap (1963)

Certain toys have remained popular throughout the years, and will probably remain, due to their simplicity, sociability and popular appeal to a wider audience. Their brand reputation will ensure they become timeless and iconic toys, with only the occasional need of adding newer features to appeal to the new younger generation.

If you found this article interesting, you may be keen to find out which UK cities release the most video games!


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