What are the best Christmas toys ever? It’s quite a subjective question really, as to some kids growing up-the box it came in might have provided more joy than the actual toy itself. As a kid growing up in rural Canada, I was drawn to any plastic figure of any of my favourite shows. He-Man, The A-Team, Battlestar Galactica and anything Matchbox were under my tree every year.
But what about the best selling toys of all time? To be honest, I was never really drawn into many of these ‘fad’ toys, but I was around to witness some of the craziness identified with the release of these toys.
In this quiz, see how many of the top toys of all-time that you can name. It’s a pretty easy, short quiz, so I have all confidence in your abilities to nail this one.
There have been some crazy fads along the way. Some of the biggest ones I remember include:
Cabbage Patch Dolls
What the actual shit were these? Ugly, cloth babies with big heads that you adopt. Never mind the images of all those starving babies in Ethiopia, these babies were just precious! I remember the girls in my school going nuts for them, bringing them, showing off all of their papers, and talking about the etymology of their names. ‘This is Sofia Serfarfano. She’s a second generation immigrant from Sicily.’ Geez. I was also privy to witness once of those fights over the dolls in a toy store. The clerk brought in a rack of dolls from the back, and he didn’t even make it to the shelves before he was toppled by crazed moms. My dad and I watched in silent, but enjoyed horror as these women battered each other to grab every last one of those dolls. We briefly debated my dad strong-arming his way to grab one of the dolls, then selling it VERY marked up to someone in the parking lot. Then my mom came by. No dice.
This was one toy I HAD to have. As a smart kid with no friends, this was the perfect toy for me. It relied on math, dexterity and imagination. Things I was over-flowing with. This you also exploded onto the market, but thankfully didn’t being with it the shopping frenzy that other, larger toys did. I remember being on the long school bus ride in, and every kid on the bus pretty much had one. Even the stupid farmer jocks at the back of the bus. The real difference with the cube however was, it took brains. You needed to have some degree of smarts to solve it. Which is why kids would often hand me their cube to ‘solve it’, so that they could show it off to their parents when they got home. And the stupid kids? They just picked off the stickers, and restuck them on so it looked like they solved it. But it didn’t look like that it all. It looked like they failed, and failed again.
This was the mac-daddy of video gaming systems in the 80s’. I remember the trio of my brother, sister and I pestering my parents in a relentless campaign of broken promises of all the things we would do if we got one. How much dog poo we would collect, tokens for dish washing, and promises of endless lawn cuts. On Christmas morning we opened it, and life was never the same again. It came with a Donkey Kong cartridge which quickly got played until the sucker warmed up like a toaster. My parents let us get another game a few days later, and we chose the Smurfs game, which also got played in heavy rotation. Coleco Vision was the first to use good quality graphics, great sound and plenty of games. I remember going to bed, and waking up in the middle of the night and could swear I heard the machine on. As I tip-toed down the stairs I saw my parents playing it, swearing at each other, and staying up way past their bedtime. In fact I credit that Coleco Vision for adding a whole new dimension to their relationship. They still couldn’t beat us though.
As soon as I saw a Furby, I knew I had to shoot it. If one were to ever cross my path, I would silently take out to the field with my rifle, and with one shot-that Furby would never return. So imagine my surprise when my mom begged for us to get her one for Christmas. None of us could figure out why she wanted one. Was it because we hadn’t given her grandchildren (yet) or that in some way she wanted to punish us? Well she got one from my brother, and that thing is demonic. As soon as that thing turned on, every animal in the house went into high alert. Cats bolted out the door, and the dogs bark turned from curiosity to kill. Amazingly, the thing lasted forever. My mom stored in a toy box, and the thing would just come to live some days, cackling and talking nonsense. Just creepy.
I Took a Lickin’ from a Chicken
You have probably never heard of this game. It was a computer game, where you played a series of games against an animatronic chicken. It bobbed its head, made clucking sounds and played along. It was a very niche game that my mom got me with such enthusiasm. She seemed more excited about it than I was. It was REALLY FUN to play with though, and everyone who came over marveled at how fun it was to play. Years later, I tried to salvage the toy and fix it, but sadly it was smoke damaged from living in a back room, Here is a commercial for it, so you don’t think I am full of crap.
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