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How times have changed. From Yo-Yo’s to Gameboys, there is no denying the evolution of toys, and we’ve seen it first hand over the last 50+ years! Get ready for a blast of nostalgia as we go over some of the most popular toys of the last 100 years.

Join us for a trip down memory lane...

What actually is a toy?

Toys are what we play with (playthings) and come in various shapes and sizes, from a ball of string to a games console. 

How toys started out

As far back as 4000 BC, people have made toys for children to play with. Over the years toys have developed and changed, but one which has always been around in one way or another is, of course, the doll!

How have toys developed over time?

As we mentioned previously, toys don't need to be complicated and can be as simple as creating a game out of a ball of string. From the early 1900s there weren’t the thousands upon thousands of options you see today, there were few and mass-produced, but they did the exact same thing as what toys of today do - put smiles on the faces of children.

Our toy timeline dates back from the 1900s to the early 2000s - that’s a whole century to compare with your parents and grandparents about what their favourite toys growing up were!

A Toy Timeline

1900s - 1920s

  • Teddy bears were made and are named after the American president, Teddy Roosevelt.
  • Mickey Mouse is created by Walt Disney and dolls are sold worldwide to mass appeal.
  • Yo-Yo’s are first launched, but this isn’t the last we’ll see of them.

 Teddy Bear From 1902

Yo-Yo From 1929

Teddy Bear from 1902 | Source
Yo-Yo from 1929 | Source


1930s - 1940s

  • Board games begin their rise with Alfred Butts inventing Scrabble and the Parker Brothers creating the first Monopoly based on their native Atlantic City.
  • All you need is a coil spring! Richard James brings out the walking Slinky Spring.
  • The first ideation of the Lego brick is formed by Ole Christiansen.
 Slinky Spring From 1943
Lego Bricks From 1949
Slinky Spring from 1943 | Source Lego Bricks from 1949 | Source


1950s - 1960s

  • Barbie is created by Ruth Handler and is named after her daughter Barbara.
  • With the success of Barbie, there needed to be a ‘Doll For Boys’, enter Action Man.
 Barbie From 1959 to 1967
Action Man From 1966
Barbie from 1959 to 1967 | Source Action Man from 1966 Source


1970s - 1980s

  • In the 70s, everyone was bouncing along with Space Hoppers.
  • In the era, we saw the height of the skateboard craze.
  • A year after the release of the timeless movie, Star Wars toys became the in-thing.
  • Over 100 million(!) Rubiks Cubes were sold between 1980 - 1982 - were you able to finish it?
  • My Little Pony and He Man & The Masters Of The Universe both became one of the most successful girls and boys toy concepts of all time.
  • Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Kids dominated the cuddly-toys section.
 Space Hopper From 1971
My Little Pony From 1983
Space Hopper from 1971 Source My Little Pony from 1983 | Source


1990s - Early 2000s

  • In 1991, Nintendo launched the Game Boy in the UK and brought gaming to life.
  • Power Rangers and Toy Story, from the small and big screen, to sold-out in toy stores.
  • Remember the Tamagotchi, Beanie Babies and the Furby?
  • The Yo-Yo is back! Last seen in the 50’s and 70’s, and is the craze of 1998.
  • The effect of the Game Boy is apparent with the success of Pokemon; from games to trading cards and collectables.
  • “Don’t come back home until it’s dark.” Folding Scooters and Pogo Sticks kept us entertained outside.
  • A new favourite with girls? Bratz Dolls made headway on Barbie’s position as the favourite doll.
 Game Boy From 1991
Furby From 1998
Game Boy from 1991 | Source Furby from 1998 | Source


Comparing to present day

"Use your imagination!" Technology has made it so today’s children no longer need to solely rely on their imagination to bring the magic to life, nowadays, it's right in front of their eyes, for better or worse.

One question we would like to put towards the newer mums out there is, what toys do your children play with now?

Are they similar to what you played with growing up? Or have mobile devices and tablets taken fully over? Send us a message on Instagram or show us in a photo and tag #ToyDipUnboxed (or #ToyDipBoxed if you’re a collector!).

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