Most popular Christmas toys of the last 20 years

This Christmas, the toys topping the Christmas wish lists range from modern versions of timeless classics to hi-tech creations guaranteed to stimulate the most boredom-prone minds.

Big sellers this Christmas

Bop It! XT is one such toy: touted to be this Christmas’s big seller, the addictive handheld game, which can be also used with headphones or speakers, now comes with a “shake it” function and four difficulty levels.

Santa should also stock up on Air Swimmers; the remote-controlled helium balloons recently featured on the Jonathan Ross show, and Let’s Rock! Elmo, who now comes with his own drum set, microphone and tambourine. The Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster is predicted to be a hit (literally) with the boys, whilst VTech’s Kidizoom Twist video camera – complete with twisting lense, video capabilities and editing functions - is also predicted to fly off the shelves.

Milky the Bunny – a slightly creepy-looking fluffy white rabbit (the PR blurb reads “you never know what he’ll do next”) is also topping the wish lists, whilst an equally bizarre best seller is the Fijit Friend – a telly-tubby like plastic creature who tells jokes, laughs and will even dance along to your favourite tunes.

However, if all this hi-tech wizardry has you pining for the toys of your youth, we’ve taken a look back over the past two decades to find out exactly which toys were topping our wish lists.

 [Useful: Christmas delivery and shipping deadlines]

The 90s: Turtles, Teletubbys and Tamagotchis

1990 saw the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles kung-fu kicking their way into the nation’s homes whilst the Nintendo GameBoy was the best-selling toy of 1991. One of 1992’s best selling toys was the Thunderbirds’ Tracy Island play set – the popularity of which prompted Blue Presenters to demonstrate how viewers could make their own version using drinking straws, pipe cleaners and washing up liquid bottles.

Power Rangers were the best-selling toys in both 1993 and 1994 – in the UK, toy stores were forced to impose a “one figure per customer” policy whilst over in the US, over 200 million figures were eventually sold. While Barbie and Action Man all enjoyed record sales in 1995, the top-selling toy title went to POGS

Tickle Me Elmo dominated 1996, with desperate parents coughing up to £1,000 for the toy on sites such as ebay after stores around the country sold out. The release of Toy Story in 1996 also saw kids clamouring for figures from the film, with Buzz Lightyear proving especially popular.  Teletubbies, Ty Beanie Babies and Tamagotchi’s were the must have toys in 1997 (40 million Tamagotchis were sold worldwide that year) whilst late 1998 saw the arrival of Furbies: the furry, Furbish-speaking electronic toys - 1.8 million were sold in 1998, 14 million in 1999, with 40 million being sold by 2000. In 1999, Pokemon trading cards became the most sought-after trading cards in history, whilst in 2000 the launch of Teksta the Robotic Dog resulted in record-breaking sales.

Bratz vs Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder figures, folding scooters and Lego’s Bionicle figures were both top sellers in 2001, which also saw the pogo stick making an unexpected come back. 2002 saw the controversial Bratz dolls knock Barbie off her shiny pink podium – with over 150 million Bratz dolls being sold around the world between 2002 and 2007 – whilst Hasbro’s controversial Beyblades (the spinning top-style toy was banned by schools across the country after reports of injuries) proved a hit with the boys, ranking as one of the best-selling toys in 2003. Robosapien, the invention of a former NASA scientist, became the must-have toy of 2004, being marketed as the first affordable intelligent entertainment humanoid and outselling all other toys. Indeed, in 2004, interactive and robotic toys became the fastest growing category in the UK toy market.

Bop-it Bonanza

2005 saw Bop-it Extreme 2 flying off the shelves, whilst Tamagotchi Connexion toys became the year’s best seller. In 2006, the Deal or No Deal board game was the best-selling toy over the Christmas period, with Baby Annabel ranking as the top selling girl’s toy and a Doctor Who figures set becoming the most popular boys’ toy.

2007 saw the arrival of In the Night Garden merchandise, with a talking Iggle Piggle figure leading the charge: toy stores around the country quickly ran out of stock and manufacturers Hasbro were forced to admit they’d grossly underestimated demand when placing orders with their Chinese manufacturers. 

Mattel’s High School Musical DVD board game became one of the best-selling board games, whilst the Ben 10 Omnitrix became the most popular boys’ toy. In 2008, Baby Born made a comeback, with the Baby Born with Magic Potty doll enjoying record sales. The High School Musical 3 Dance Mat also proved a sell out, as did Hasbro’s Star Wars Voice Changer Clone Trooper Helmet

Go Go (Zhu Zhu) Pets Hamster and Transformers 2 figures were the must-have toys of 2009.  Hi tech was the name of the game in 2010, with the car-munching Stinky the Garbage Truck being one of the year’s top sellers, along with Jet Pack Buzz Lightyear, Kung Zhu hamsters and NERF N-Strike Recon CS-6.

What were your favourite childhood Christmas toys? Are there any your kids (or you) have to get your hands on this Christmas?

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