The Most Popular Toy the Year You Were Born
Ready for a trip down memory lane? From Etch a Sketch to Big Wheels to Power Rangers, enjoy this blast from your toy past.
1960 – Etch A Sketch
French electrician André Cassagnes had the idea of a “drawing toy with a joy stick, glass screen, and aluminum powder,” according to americanprofile.com. Using that concept as a catalyst, The Ohio Art Co. launched the Magic Screen in 1960, which was a whole new way to draw without pencil and paper—and you could erase with a shake of your hands. Of course, we now know it as the Etch A Sketch you can still get today.
1961 – Slip ‘n Slide
Back in the day, this was the closest you were getting to having a water park in your very own backyard. Thanks to toy company Wham-O, all you had to do was hook up the old garden hose to this long plastic sheet and voila! You could slide down the Slip ‘n Slide into a small wading pool.
1962 – SuperBall
What happens when you accidentally create a plastic ball that bounces? Wham-O buys your idea and it ends up selling millions. That’s exactly what happened to Norman Stingley, a chemical engineer who came upon the compound polymer zectron. At one time, Wham-O had to produce over 170,000 balls a day to keep up with the demand. Fun fact: According to Wham-O, the NFL named the Super Bowl game after this bouncing ball.
1963 – Easy Bake Oven
According to Good Housekeeping, the original bright teal Easy-Bake Oven had a tiny stove that was heated by an incandescent light bulb that could reach a temp of 350 degrees. In 2013, a 13-year-old girl persuaded the company to create the oven in a more masculine color for her little brother.
1964 – G.I. Joe
Little plastic green army men were already a hit with the boy crowd when Hasbro broke record sales with the launch of G.I. Joe and his “21 movable parts,” according to livingly.com. In fact, in only two years, G.I. Joe became more than half of Hasbro’s sales. Although the original toy patent refers to the figure as a doll, Hasbro later prohibited calling G.I. Joe anything but an action figure. If you have any G.I. Joes still in the box, then you’ve got a hidden treasure in your house right now.
1965 – Operation
An unsteady hand is your downfall in the game of Operation, which was invented by John Spinello, a student at the University of Illinois. He sold the game to Milton Bradley for $500. After a redesign, Milton Bradley released the game, and it went on to earn millions. Milton Bradley was eventually purchased by Hasbro in 1980, and they have since come to Spinello’s aid. The New York Daily News reports that after word went viral that Spinello didn’t have enough money to cover $25,000 oral surgery, Hasbro offered to buy Spinello’s original game prototype.
1966 – Twister
What began as an advertising promotion for shoe polish turned into a game that would span the decades. The original game was called Pretzel, but the name was unavailable and was changed to Twister. It was almost a flop as Sears Roebuck thought it was too racy for its catalog. But then it was played on The Tonight Show by none other than Johnny Carson himself and actress Eva Gabor. Their antics made the game an instant hit with the only store in Manhattan selling out the next day. In 1967, the game sold more than three million copies. It’s also one of the classic board games everyone should own.
1967 – Battleship
Milton Bradley may have launched the Battleship board game in 1967, but it existed as a pen and paper game way before that. The game may date back to Russian soldiers playing it in 1917. The phrase, “You sunk my battleship!” has certainly passed the test of time.
1968 – Hot Wheels
It was a dark blue custom Camaro that first hit the shelves back in 1968. Mattel has since sold one billion cars. In 2012, a Beach Bomb model sold to a collector for $70,000. No, we’re not kidding—here are even more childhood toys that are now worth thousands.
1969 – Snoopy Astronaut
Who doesn’t love Snoopy? After all, he’s the somewhat human, lovable beagle of Peanuts fame. The United States went to the moon in 1969, and the Snoopy toy skyrocketed as well. The character became NASA’s safety mascot for the Apollo program.