With Michael Mann’s latest film, Blackhat, releasing this weekend, it’s
We are officially in the “Holiday Season” and I’m sure many of you are trying to plan a budget for your gift buying. In all the hustle and bustle it’s easy to get lost in a sea of Frozen and superhero merchandise, the kids can’t get enough of it (and some adults too)! But if the kids and adults on your list are looking for something a little different why not pick up a gift of Christmas past? At one point in time every one of these items were all anyone wanted. Let’s bring them back!
Shirley Temple doll (1934)
It’s sort of ironic that this doll would pop up in my search for past Christmas crazes since we lost Shirley Temple-Black earlier this year. Back in 1934 Temple was the It-girl of the decade; she helped put smiles on faces and made big bucks for the studio, despite the Depression being well underway. Temple was such a big hit that she spawned an entire line of dolls that she modeled for. In 1934 the doll sold for $4.79 ($84.87 after inflation) but today its worth is about $500 to $650 in mint condition.
WWII Kewpie Doll (1945)
Kewpie dolls have always freaked me out, they just look like they are up to something. But in the 40s they were what every little girl wanted. So in 1945 the Kewpie doll was the bestselling baby doll around. The Kewpies were created by Rose O’Neill who spent most of her adult like in the Ozarks in Missouri, but in the time she spent in New York the Kewpies were born. The word “Kewpie” actually is short for Cupid, which Rose would often include in love stories she wrote. The first appearance of a Kewpie came in 1909 when it accompanied a story published in a women’s magazine. If you have a doll collector to shop for you can pick up on of these iconic baby dolls for fairly cheap on EBay.
Action Man (1966)
Action Man was the creation of Palitoy, the UK version of Hasbro Industries, when their sales director Hal Belton brought back the GI Joe from the States. Action Man, though basically a rip off of GI Joe, managed to dominate in sales over other British action figures including their formerly lucrative, Tommy Gunn by Pedigree Toys. In 1968 Action Man struck the final blow and Tommy Gunn was officially discontinued. There have even been talks of an Action Man film from Emmett/Furla Studios. You can pick up an Action Man on EBay for around $15!
Magic 8 Ball (1974)
I don’t know why I found it surprising that the Magic 8 Ball debuted in the 70s, maybe it’s because I had one in the 90s and just assumed it was a 90s toy? Either way, in 1974 this fortune telling toy was all the kids wanted. Would they get married? Would they win the lottery? Would their baby sister turn into a troll? All of their questions would be answered with this one, extremely simple, toy. But, the magic 8 ball was actually made in the 50s, it just became a hit in the 70s. The idea came from a Three Stooges short called The Nazty Spy. Scriptwriter Albert C. Carter modeled the ball after a device his mother, a clairvoyant from Cincinnati. Finally in the 1970s, the Magic 8 Ball was picked up by Mattel and became a smash hit. You can still buy these in stores.
Rubik’s Cube (1980)
The 80s are known for their vibrant colors, the eruption of home technology, pop music, and the Rubik’s Cube. It’s hard to believe that at one point kids wanted this infuriating little multi-colored block but in 1980 kids couldn’t get enough. Talk about an interactive toy, the Rubik’s Cube combinations can be figured out by a lengthy mathematical equation. The Rubik’s Cube actually remains pretty popular, as of 2009 there were a million cubes sold worldwide.
Coleco Vision (1982)
What is it about vintage game systems that is so appealing? I could play 1080p graphics in 3D in my house but I would rather play Super Mario on an analog TV. In 1982 the Coleco Vision came to homes all over and gave kids (almost) arcade quality video games on their own TVs. Exactly 145 titles were released on “ROM cartridges” between the years of 1982-1984. Donkey Kong was among the first of games released and it was a hit! Unfortunately the original system was discontinued so you might have to spend a pretty penny to get one now.
Buzz Lightyear (1995ish)
Toy Story is quite possibly the crowning animated achievement of the 90s, except maybe The Lion King. So in 1995 I had my eye on the life size, talking, Buzz Lightyear, it had to be mine. I already had Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Woody, and Rex so Buzz had to be a part of my collection. Thankfully I got one at some point and he was great! Buzz had retractable wings, spoke all his key phrases (with Tim Allen voice), and lit up. You can still buy variations of Buzz but none compare to the original, it was the first time I really thought my toy might come alive. Ah, to be a kid at Christmas again.