10 of the Best Selling Toys for Kids of All Time

10 of the Best Selling Toys for Kids of All Time

Did you know that a simple toy like the hula hoop was mass-produced and millions of these hoops were sold? Although life is simpler before than today, the interest of people in toys did not change. It does not matter if you are young or old, male or female, as long as you have that “child in you” feeling, toys will always be amusing.

Today’s featured article is all about the top 10 best-selling toys ever produced, I will be your guide as we travel back in time to know some history behind the creation or invention of the toys included in this list.

Hula Hoop

Hula hoop; Folsom Street Fair
In 1958, Arthur K. Melin and Richard Knerr invented the hula hoop and people used to twirl, throw and roll the hoops. Before the hula hoops were made from plastic tubing, it was originally made from rattan, willow and stiff grasses. It was marketed nationwide and in less than four 4 months, 25 million plastic hula hoops were sold! After two years of sales, the number of hula hoops sold rose up to 100 million. Carlon Products Corporation is one of the manufacturer’s during that time and they produced 50,000 hoops per day. In 1999, the hula hoop was included in the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York.

View Master

A GAF View-Master Viewer Model G red.
The View Master was invented by Wilhelm Gruber and it was introduced in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair. It was sold at stationery stores as well as photography shops with the available reels of scenic places such as Carlsbad Caverns and Grand Canyon but the most popular View Master reel is the scenic reels of Mecca. Even the US military saw the potential using the view master for the soldiers’ military training. They bought 100,000 viewers and approximately six million reels from 1942 to 1945.


Metal slinky
Slinky toy is a helical spring that relies on gravity and momentum. It stretches and bounces and one of my favorite when playing this toy is making it travel down on the stairs steps until it reached In early 1940s, Richard James invented the slinky toy and he demonstrated it at Gimbe’s department store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1945. the floor. In just a matter of ninety (90) minutes, 400 units of this toy were sold. Slinky was inducted into the National Toy Hall of fame in 2000 and three years after it was added to the Toy Industry Association’s ‘Century of Toy List’. There are 300 million units of slinky toys that were sold in its first sixty (6) years.

Zhu Zhu pets

The zhu zhu hamster Pipsqueak
It was formerly known as Go Go Hamsters (in UK) and it was created by Cepia LLC in 2009. Russ Hornsby is the one who created the zhu zhu pets for his company (Cepia LLC). In 2009, this toy became a hit during the holidays and originally priced for $9 USD but there was a time when its price was raised to $60 because of shortages. Zhu Zhu pets have different accessories for custom-built habitats and there are two play modes to choose from: nurturing mode and/or adventure mode. New characters and new line features were released in the succeeding years which include Rockstar pets, Kung Zhu battling hamsters and Special Forces battling Ninja Warriors.

Mr. Potato Head

Photo of Mr Potato Head
If you have watched Toy Story, probably you are familiar with Mr. Potato Head. George Lerner invented the toy in 1949, and Hasbro is the company who manufactured and distributed in 1952. At first, the toy was produced in separate plastic parts with pushpins, and it was attached on real potato or other vegetables but due to complaints on rotting vegetables, Hasbro decided to produce and include a plastic potato together with the set of different plastic parts. Mr. Potato Head is the first toy which was advertised on television.

Cabbage Patch Kids/Dolls

Invented by Xavier Roberts in 1978, Cabbage Patch Kids was first known as “Little People” but Roger Schlaifer changed it (to Cabbage Patch Kids). Coleco, a toy manufacturer began its mass production in 1982 and stopped manufacturing it in 1989 due to bankruptcy. After Coleco, many toy companies showed interest in mass-producing the toy again, this includes Hasbro, Mattel, Toys R Us and Play Along. This toy became the most popular toy during the 1980s and one of the longest-running doll franchises in America.


The original Game Boy, manufactured by Nintendo and released in Japan on 1989-04-21
When we talk about handheld game console, I am pretty sure that we will all remember Nintendo Game Boy… even if it’s the 8-bit version. Gameboy was developed and manufactured by Nintendo and this first handheld console was created by Gunpei Yokoi and Nintendo Research and Development 1 staff, the same team who designed Nintendo’s first handheld system called “Game and Watch”. It was released on April 21, 1989 in Japan and on the next years, Gameboy was also distributed in North America and in Europe. In terms of sales, the Game Boy and Game Boy Color have a total of almost 119 million units worldwide.


First edition of brunette Barbie doll from 1959.
Ruth Handler together with his husband Elliot are the ones behind the production of Barbie. They were on Europe when Handler saw a Bild Lili doll in one of the stores and she purchased three of them, one was given to her daughter Barbara and two (2) were brought to Mattel. She and Jack Ryan redesign the doll and named it Barbie, after her daughter Barbara. Barbie’s birthday was on March 9, 1959, the same date when it was unveiled at the American International Toy Fair in New York. The first doll wore a black and white swimsuit and a ponytail and has a height of 11 1/2″ inches. On its first year, it was estimated that 350,000 dolls were sold and estimated that for more than fifty years of Mattel’s production, over a billion of Barbie dolls were sold in 150 different countries.

Star Wars Action Figures

Mego Corporation was the leading company in manufacturing action figures in the late 1970s. Actually, the license for Star Wars action figure was offered to them but they refused the offer, then it was Kenner Toy Company who got the license. It seems that Kenner hit the jackpot when acquiring the license because of the massive demand on the action figures. There were over one hundred (100) action figures that were mass-produced from 1978 to 1985 and during that time they sold 300 million of these toys. In 1985, Kenner decided to discontinue the action figures due to low demands of Star Wars merchandise.

Nerf Balls

Nerf Balls photo
It just started with a four-inch polyurethane ball which was developed by Parker Brothers in 1969 and just a year the Nerf ball was known as the world’s first official indoor ball. Four (4) million Nerf balls were sold and a bigger successor was introduced and marketed to the public and it was called the “Super Nerf Ball”. The Parker Brothers continue manufacturing different Nerf line products but they handed control to their sister company Kenner Products. Also, because of the production of Nerf sports balls, Nerfhoop and Nerf football were born. Nowaydas, the modern Nerf toys include sports balls and foam dart blasters and even video games.

Source: Most Popular Toys Of The Last 100 Years, Barbie to Boba Fett: The Top 11 Toys of All Time


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