TOP 10: Past Christmas toy hits

FROZEN: Stocks of merchandise sold out as soon as they came in.

It appears this year’s Christmas blockbuster toy will be the Hatchimal – a small furry robot that hatches out of an egg. For weeks parents have been frantically trying to track down this elusive toy for Santa to deliver on Christmas Day. Here’s a look back at some toy crazes of past Christmases.


1.  2014 Frozen dolls


The hit film Frozen left many parents in a tizz as once again they were were left ‘frozen’ out in trying to secure the hugely popular merchandise on offer, in particular the Snow Glow Elsa and Frozen Sparkle dolls. Stocks were selling out as soon as they came in and left some stores to limit people to buying just two items and left shops pretty much sold out by mid-December.


2.  2006 Nintendo Wii

A revolution in the games console market the Nintendo Wii got gamers much more active with its motion-sensing Wii remotes. Across the country people were swinging and swiping as they played tennis or 10 pin bowling in the living room. But not everyone was so lucky as once again shortages saw hungry gamers forced to wait in long queues to try and secure a console.


3.  1998 Furby

This small furry animatronic creature available in different shapes and colours spoke ‘Furbish’ but with the right care from children could learn to speak English. It was a phenomenal hit and parents inundated shops in a bid to snap one up. Despite only being launched in October, 1.8 million were sold in 1998 although it went on to sell 14 million in 1999! 


4. 1996 Tickle Me Elmo

Another unpredicted success the plush Elmo toy that laughed and vibrated when squeezed sold out almost immediately. Short supplies caused hysteria once again amongst parents desperate to get their hands on one. A stampede in one shop led to a poor worker receiving a broken rib and retailers were mobbed by parents willing to pay anything.


5. 1992 Thunderbirds Tracy Island

Following the BBC’s revival of the Thunderbirds TV show, Matchbox launched a range of toys and in December 1992 demand for the Tracy Island playset was huge and resulted in a shortage. Again this toy saw parents fight it out in shops and a black market rise in order to secure the ‘must have’ toy. It later led Blue Peter to run a DIY demonstration by Anthea Turner so children not lucky enough to get one could make their own from old newspaper, pipe cleaners, yoghurt pots, cereal packets and bits of sponge!


6.   1991 Game Boy

Manufactured by Nintendo the handheld video game had interchangeable game cartridges to play such as the addictive and popular Tetris. It has become one of the bestselling electric game devices of all time. When the original units were released in Japan all 300,000 sold out in just a fortnight and when it was released in the USA 40,000 units were sold on the very first day.


7.  1985 Teddy Ruxpin 

This loveable talking bear’s eyes and mouth would move in sync as it read children a bedtime story thanks to the audio cassette attached to its back. Using the same technology seen in talking creatures Disneyland Teddy Ruxpin appeared to come to life. It was so popular that 800,000 were sold in 1985 and a shortage of supplies in the lead up to Christmas doubled or tripled the price people paid to secure one for their child.


8. 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids

The squidgy soft dolls that came with its own name and an adoption certificate caused chaos for parents whose children had listed it on their wish list to Santa. Low stocks lead to a frenzy of adults fighting as they scrambled to get one for their child with some even camping outside toy stores in an attempt to secure one. Some of the dolls were sold on the black market for 10 times their retail price and by New Year’s day more than three million had been sold.


9.  1977 Star Wars Action Figures

The success of Star Wars took the world by surprise, so much so that toymaker Kenner did not have time to manufacture much in time for Christmas. They did however sell millions of vouchers for miniature action figures of the film’s characters such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Princess Leia. On Christmas morning children woke up to no actual toy, just an ‘Early Bird Certificate Package’ that gave them information about the toy figures they would receive in a few months.


10. 1934 Shirley Temple Doll

Possibly one of the earliest ‘must have’ Christmas toys the Shirley Temple doll.  Manufactured by The Ideal Toy and Novelty Company it was modelled on Shirley Temple and was the first ‘celebrity’ doll to hit the shelves. Shirley Temple was only six years old at the time and was starring in the film Bright Eyes which was released three days before Christmas. Apparently $45 million worth of the dolls sold were sold over a seven-year period.


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