As Christmas draws near, you’re likely already in full shopping mode – venturing out into the high-traffic stores or scrolling through countless pages on Amazon hoping to find the perfect presents. In 2019, this is certainly the norm, and usually those “perfect gifts” involve some sort of new gadget or tech.

It got us thinking… what were the “hot” toys in the past. Sure, nowadays an iPad or UHD VR 3D Ultra Super Mega 80” TV would suffice, but what about before all of that was a thing?

Well we did some digging into past decades, and here’s what we found!


New Home Cost (Average): $7,354

New Car Cost (Average): $1,510

Hottest Toy: Mr. Potato Head

Ahh yes, a childhood classic that has remained very much a staple to this day. The creator of Mr. Potato Head got the idea when he realized that children play with the food that they don’t want to eat. Mix in the different smiles, eyes, ears, noses and mouths that you can add, and you have yourself a toy that has lasted the decades.

Trivia: Mr. Potato Head was the first toy with a dedicated TV commercial and helped Hasbro earn more than $4 million in just a few months.

Original Cost: $0.98


New Home Cost (Average): $11,900

New Car Cost (Average): $2,600

Hottest Toy: G.I. Joe

Driven by the timing of its release – during the Cold War – G.I. Joe was an instant hit. Marketed to boys, this toy “combatted” the Barbie fad that captivated the nation’s young girls. Whether they were carrying out dangerous missions or going through the many possible wardrobe changes, children loved G.I. Joe. The popularity later turned into video games, movies and TV shows.

Trivia: Hasbro sought to include copyrighted features on the toy to prevent cheap reproductions or imitations. The scar on the right cheek was one, and the other was the placement of the right thumbnail on the underside of the thumb.

Original Cost: $4.00


New Home Cost (Average): $17,000

New Car Cost (Average): $3,450

Hottest Toy: Pet Rock

Presumably the oddest “toy” on this list, the pet rock was essentially a smooth stone that was marketed as a pet. It came in a cardboard box with holes in it (to allow it to breath, of course). The fad only lasted about 6 months, however, in that time the creator made more than $5 million!

Trivia: The biggest expense to Gary Dahl – the creator – was actually the packaging and manufacturing of the boxes to hold the pet rock. The rock itself only cost about $0.01.

Original Cost: $4.00


New Home Cost (Average): $47,200

New Car Cost (Average): $7,200

Hottest Toy: Cabbage Patch Dolls

Cabbage Patch Dolls stormed the nation in 1982 and immediately stuck. Their large round heads and soft fabric bodies were the lovable toy of choice for most of the 80s and remained as such into the 2000s.

Trivia: The original version had nine head variations produced and computer-matched with different bodies to make sure that each Cabbage Patch doll was mostly unique.

Original Cost: $30.00


New Home Cost (Average): $79,100

New Car Cost (Average): $16,950

Hottest Toy: Super Soaker

For the majority of late-80s and 90s babies, summers included Super Soakers. If you wanted to blast your friends with water (safely) while getting to enjoy your few months out of school outside, this was the toy for you. Capable of firing water streams up to 50 ft., the Super Soaker changed the game for backyard activities and was an essential for backyard battles.

Trivia: Super Soaker brand has generated more than $1 billion (!) in total sales.

Original Cost: $10.00-$50.00 (Depending on size and model)

Close Runner-Up: Tickle Me Elmo

We couldn’t get past the 90s without at least mentioning Tickle Me Elmo. Nearly impossible to find in the late 90s, this toy was in super high demand as the original production was only for 400,000 units. Those quickly sold out, and the lucky few who purchased early turned to the Internet to resell the prized laughing Elmo for thousands of dollars!

squirt gun


New Home Cost (Average): $119,600

New Car Cost (Average): $27,958

Hottest Toy: Razor Scooter

Another huge success in the outside activities realm was the Razor Scooter. With its lightweight frame and relatively affordable cost, these scooters transformed the way kids traveled up and down sidewalks and driveways. More than five million units were sold within the first six months after they launched. The only thing you had to watch out for was whacking your shins with the base of it!

Trivia: The Razor Scooter was awarded Toy of the Year in 2000, and has grown the sport of freestyle scooter riding to where it is now.

Original Cost: $99.00-$149.00


New Home Cost (Average): $226,800

New Car Cost (Average): $34,000

Hottest Toy: Anything Baby Shark

There’s no way around it: kids are obsessed with Baby Shark. Parents of children 10 and younger – or anyone on social media – are very aware of the song that went viral (Do, do, do-do do-do), and toy companies took note. You can now find shirts, games, puppets, stuffed animals and more dedicated to the song.

Trivia: The song originated as a campfire song by camp counselors, inspired by the movie Jaws, that later incorporated the hand motions, which have become so popular.

Original Cost: Varies


Well there you have it. A trip down memory lane and a glimpse of what’s to come. We at Amerifirst wish you and your family a very merry holiday season!


*Not intended as credit counseling, accounting or investment advice. Contact your financial representative for more information. Down payment and terms shown are for informational purposes only and are not intended as an advertisement or commitment to lend.

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