Most Popular Christmas Gifts Over the Past 70 Years

retro toys

Do you remember what you desperately wanted for Christmas when you were a child? Were they toys that were the “In” thing?

For fun, I put together some data on popular toys kids wanted for Christmas through the decades.

Let’s start with the 1950s.

Children then seemed eager for such toys as that ol’ rubber guy, Gumby, the bouncy Pogo Stick, and the timeless Play-Doh. And what kid could go without the corn popper? I think many didn’t!

Gumby            pogo stick

corn popper toy

I actually had all of those, except Gumby, but I had them later on in my childhood era. 🙂

 

1960s

Little girls were gaga over the Chatty Cathy doll and the amazing Easy-Bake Oven.

chatty cathy doll     easy bake oven toy

While boys found an interest in GI Joe action figures and Hot Wheels. Well…I would say both sexes were interested in these and other toys throughout these eras.

GI Joe toy        hot wheels 1968

 

1970s

In this decade, kids were fascinated with the first foam Nerf ball, and the flexibility and durability of Stretch Armstrong. I remember the latter very well. A few of my friends had this elasticized dude, and it was wildly fun pulling him yards apart and watching him slide back into a normal-sized guy once we tired of torturing him. Haha.

nerf ball        stretch armstrong

And the cool Evil Knievel Stunt Cycle was all the roar in the early 1970s.

Evil Knievel stunt cycle

Also, a huge invention: the Atari video game system came out in this decade. The first game, I remember, was Pong. Haha. But later on, we enjoyed Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Astroids, Centipede, Pit Fall, and others!

The View Master was big then too. I had several slides from the Scooby-Doo show when I was a kid. Christmas was complete when kids got these fun toys in the 1970s.

view master

 

1980s

How could anyone around that time forget about the fights on Black Fridays over the Cabbage Patch Kids? Goodness. The scrambling across the slippery toy stores, and the unbelievable tug-o-war over the last couple of dolls was both astonishing and insane. Those certainly were a HUGE want for lots of children in the 1980s.

cabbage patch kids 1

Then, for the more nerdy kids, the Rubik’s Cube came out and teased and worked kids’ brains in a good way. I mean, who didn’t have a Rubik’s Cube then? We were all cool nerds! What fun that was!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

This was also the decade when the Nintendo video game system came out! My sons are loyal Nintendo fans.

 

1990s

Goodness. Do you remember all the hubbub over the Tickle Me Elmo doll? I do. Although I was in my twenties then, I still remember the craze over his giggling. And then there was the bizarre-looking Furby dolls. Many parents scrambled for these dolls during Christmastime.

tickle me elmo        Furby doll

And don’t forget the Beanie Babies! Believe it or not, they started off in McDonalds’ Happy Meals but caught on like wildfire, becoming one of the most wanted and collected items in the decade.

beanie babies

 

2000s

Looks like Zhu Zhu Pets came out in this time period, as well as those ugly…er, I mean, nice dolls, the Bratz. My sons actually each had a Zhu Zhu Pet. They were hamsters. The Razor Scooter was a biggie in the early 2000s.

zhu zhu pets               razor scooter

 

My Christmas toy memories

Some of the most awesome toys I got for Christmas in the late 1970s and 1980s were the Barbie Dream House and several of the Muppets characters. They were puppets where you stuck your hand in and could move their mouths, but in the case of the character, Animal, I could move his eyebrows too. What fun those were!

barbie dream house    Muppets

 

What were special gifts you loved when you were growing up?

 

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On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall Fell: A Personal Childhood Experience of Visiting East and West Berlin and the Wall

fall of berlin wall 1989

(An edited repost)

For the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9, 1989), I am posting a short piece I wrote three years ago in my creative writing class that is a true story about my experiences at age 10 or 11, to the best of my recollection, in West and East Berlin and Checkpoint Charlie.

allied checkpoint charlie

Our tour bus rumbled to a stop at Checkpoint Charlie. It was a bitter cold day, and the gray sky promised an outpouring of heavy snow.

Just beyond the checkpoint and its red and white striped arm stood a white guard tower occupied by East German soldiers with machine guns. Behind us, the museum on one side of the road and the pizza parlor on the other emitted liveliness and the typical aura of a well-visited venue for tourists — the West Side of Berlin.

As my family sat waiting in our seats on the bus, a man in a military uniform climbed into the vehicle with a scowl on his face. “Passports! Passports!” he shouted.

The man’s crimson face and bulky, rigid figure frightened me.

 I was sitting next to my mother, closest to the window. My dad and sister sat in front of us. Mom clutched our passports, waiting for the man to get to our row. I slid down the seat, hoping to disappear. He then stood over my mother. She quickly showed him our documentation. He continued down the narrow aisle, his boots punching the floor.

Finally, he left, and the bus chugged through into East Berlin.

As dreary as the pewter sky were the drab brown buildings on either side of us. Few people walked the sidewalks. Our bus passed one person sitting on a lone bench, bundled up in a coat that seemed to mesh into his surroundings.

This childhood experience of East Berlin made a lasting impression on me that I can still see clearly to this day, over thirty years later.

berlin wall piece at RR Pres. Library
(A piece of the Berlin Wall at the Ronald
Reagan Presidential Library)

Big Wheels in a Bountiful Era

big wheel from the 1970s love

Growing up in the 1970s was a fun time.  Aside from my daily attempts in creating various flying apparatuses, I had this amazing machine that took me everywhere with the pumping of its pedals.  It only had an emergency brake, but it was employed when it was absolutely necessary, which was never.  Its colors were a daring yellow, patriotic blue, and powerful red.  The machine had an adjustable seat, and for decoration, streamers sprouted from its handles.

This powerful, glorious machine was called a Big Wheel because the front and back wheels were…well…BIG.  They ran over anything in their path, flattening these things as thin as tracing paper.

Many mornings if I wasn’t scraping my metal-wheeled roller skates (I got the rubber wheels later) across the asphalt at six a.m. (you know the neighbors loved that), I’d hop on my power vehicle and pedal down the side walk (or pavement, depending on where we were living at the time), ready to ride the day away.

If anyone tried to harass me by chasing after me via foot or bike, I’d take off on my trusty Big Wheel, squealing out of the vicinity, sparks snapping off my back monster wheels, a dusty cloud floating in my wake.  Blind from the dust and stunned by the super sonic speed of my Big Wheel, my bullies were left to wallow in defeat.

Years later when I no longer could fully fit in the seat of my beloved machine, I’d clasp its worn handles, place one sneaker on its seat, and push with the other, transforming it into a type of stylish and speedy scooter.  Alas, eventually, my trusty transport had to retire and live with its buddies in the hallowed halls of Big Wheel Memories…memories that stay with me forever.

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