Take a second and rewind to the time when you were a kid going to bed the night before Christmas. You’re probably dressed in your best Ebenezer Scrooge-esque pajamas snuggled up under an absurd amount of blankets, wondering how in the world you’re going to be able to sleep. Think about that moment when you laid your head down on your pillow and closed your eyes. The image burned into the back of your eyelids was probably a well marketed PR photo of the toy you thought you wouldn’t be able to go on living without.
Throughout the years, we’ve seen a numerous amount of toy fads hit the market right around the Christmas season. As you’ve probably come to realize, that timing was never a coincidence.
We wanted to highlight some of the most desired Christmas toys of the past, but it’s up to you to decide whether or not these toys were a success due to PR/marketing or because they were really freaking cool.
The Cabbage Patch Kid.
This doll brand was one of the most popular toy fads of the Christmas 1980 season and one of the longest-running doll franchises in the United States. Despite the fact that these dolls look like they’re suffering from an anaphylactic allergic reaction, the 1983 holiday shopping season drove consumers into a frenzy to get their hands on a cabbage patch kid. Apparently, stores receiving small quantities of the Kids saw shoppers stampede into stores, suffering broken bones from being trampled and even bribing employees to reserve dolls for them.
The Game Boy.
Before we became spoiled with our fancy apps and iPads, the OG travel-sized game was the Game Boy. Launching in 1989, the Game Boy appealed to literally everyone. Its entire shipment of one million units was sold within a few weeks of launching.
Seriously, who doesn’t want a miniature furry robot replica of an unknown imaginary creature that could talk andblink its eyes? After making its debut at FAO Schwartz in 1998, the store had 35,000 Furbies backordered. By 1999, 14 million Furbies had been sold. Safe to say, everyone wanted to get their hands on this miniature nonsense-babbling creature.
The Razor Scooter.
If we’re being honest, razor scooter is a pretty lethal sounding name. However, the razor scooter did incredibly well for itself during the holiday season of 2000, selling 5 million in the 6 months following the first launch. And despite the dangerous name, parents were drawn in immediately by the marketing appeal of a “no assembly required” toy.
Honorable Mention: Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato head was the first toy to be marketed and advertised on national television.Hilariously, the Mr. Potato head game sold like wildfire despite the original game’s lack of the “potato body.” When the game launched in 1952, kids were encouraged to put the plastic features on an actual potato. Since that kind of sounds like something children did to entertain themselves while bored on the Oregon Trail, Hasbro wisely started supplying a potato body in 1964. Regardless, 1 million Mr. Potato head kits were sold in the first year of being on the market.
Of course, there were plenty more toys that captured our attention. Webkinz, Care Bears, the Rubix cube, Tickle Me Elmo and many more stole our parent’s money year after year. At the end of the day the question remains: were these toys successful thanks to a hardworking and well-picked PR team, or were they just plain brilliant?