The Christmas season regularly brings about some must-have toy of the season. This is THE toy that everyone wants. The supply is much lower than the demand. People become crazed with desperation to secure the item for Santa to bring home to their child and entrepreneurs scoop them up to resell at huge profit. This isn’t usually the toy that was expected to well or advertised as the one to have. It takes on a life of its own and might end with parents camped out at stores, searching the newspaper (Craigslist now), or hoping to win one in a raffle. Let’s look back at some of the biggest must-haves from the past.
The craze for toys isn’t just a recent phenomenon. The first rush came in 1934 for the Shirley Temple Doll. Parents rushed to department stores to get this doll for their daughters. In 1960 the rush was on for a Chatty Cathy Doll. This classic beauty had a phonograph inside and spoke 11 different phrases 1964 had the first big must have toy for the boy, G.I. Joe. These inexpensive figures were on every little boys wish list, and difficult to find. Figurines were again a sought after gift in 1977 for the film Star Wars. Kids of all ages had to have their own posable Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker.
What probably comes to your mind is the more recent crazes. Remember Cabbage Patch Dolls? These individually named little gems were flying off the shelves in 1983. Fights broke out at the mall and black market dolls went for thousands of dollars. In 1984 the shelves were stripped bare again but now for Transformers figures. These robots in disguise were different from any toy before and store couldn’t keep them in stock. If you wanted to be the popular kid on December 26th in 1985, you would have opened a Teddy Ruxpin the day before. These story-telling bears sold for $68 dollars in the store if you could find one. The average price for resale in newspaper ads was about $200. In the 90s the dolls again were all the excitement. Christmas ’96 found everyone lined up to get one of the new animated Tickle Me Elmos. In 1998 over a million lucky parents purchased a Furby doll. These weird-looking little alien creatures spoke their own language and slowly learned to speak English. That million Furbys were all there were. In the years after that first burst of demand saw more than 14 million sold. Being the must have toy at Christmas this year can mean many future years of profit for a toymaker, contrary to what the “experts” tell us. All the predictions in 2006 said that PlayStation 3 was going to be what all Christmas shoppers would want. But it was the Nintendo Wii that families lined-up for in the middle of the night.
2012 will likely have some break-out hit that everyone will be rushing to find. Hopefully you get in on the rush early and make a child happy, or turn a tidy profit. British super toy store Hamley’s published its 2012 Must-Have Toy List back in July. Wonder how many of their selections will turn out to be hits or maybe become THE toy of the year.