The 10 Best Selling Toys of All-Time
For most children toys were the source of adventure, creativity and fun. Many long hours were spent playing with model cars, riding bikes or sailing plastic boats down a creek. Indeed, the art of play can be thought of as the birth of creativity. Spending hours playing with toys fostered a healthy dose of imagination in children, imagination which would some day lead to discoveries and inventions as adults. As a case in point, the beautiful country of Japan is a hot bed of toys and games with robots as a central theme. So, is it any wonder that Japan is a world leader in the robotics industry? Japan loves its robot toys so much that they even built a life-size, moving Gundam! As we are no doubt aware of the importance of toys and play to society, maybe it’s time to take a look at some of the best selling toys of all-time.
10. Monopoly – 275 Million Copies Sold
if the phrases “Park Place” or “Pass Go and Collect $200” sound familiar then you’ve been a player in the king of all board games: Monopoly. Designed by Lizzie Magie in 1903 Monopoly is a game where you trade in real estate. Some games can last an incredibly long time, depending on the players savvy and roll of the dice. The game is so popular that today it can be found in many versions from video games to championship tournaments. The various editions of the game are too numerous to mention here, but include versions such as the Attack on Titan edition, Christmas Story edition, Astronomy Edition and many, many more.
9. Silly Putty: Over 300 Million Units Sold
Back in the day Silly Putty was the only way to “copy and paste”, if they used newsprint that is. In fact, it was one of the toys biggest selling point for kids. Kids would spend hours with the Sunday comics smashing Silly Putty over the images, peeling it off and stretching the image in all manner of ways. Originally marketed towards adults as a novelty item, kids soon picked up on the fun they could have with this stretchy, bouncy mass of goo. Today, this humble toy can be found in the National Museum of American History, as it’s a “case study of invention, business and entrepreneurship and longevity.”
8. G.I. Joe – 16 million units sold
Hasbro took a calculated risk with this next toy on our list of best-selling toys, G.I. Joe. After all, back in the day, not many folks thought that boys would be caught dead playing with dolls. However, once released the toy was a huge success. Like Barbie, G.I. Joe captured the imagination of kids who enjoyed playing with action figures, inventing scenarios, battles and other such creative gameplay. Whereas Barbie was a fashion doll, G.I. Joe was an action figure–one with bendable parts. In fact, it was G.I. Joe that introduced kids to the world of action figures.
7. Cabbage Patch Kids: Over $6 Billion in Sales
Believe it or not, these odd looking cloth doll caused riots in 1983. Shoppers clawed, fought and harassed one another in order to get their hands on one of these dolls for their kids. Manufactured by Coleco, these odd little dolls came with adoption papers designed to give kids a sense of nurturing and responsibility. Each doll was unique in some way which also added to their appeal and collectability at the time. In fact, the dolls were never considered to be purchased, but adopted from Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia. Cabbage Patch Dolls are still available. While the frenzy surrounding them is gone, interest hasn’t and can be purchased from Wicked Cool Toys.
6. Rubik’s Cube: Over 350 Million Units Sold
Did you know that there exists a World Cube Association (WCA) which is responsible for holding speedsolving events for the Rubik’s Cube? That’s right, the WCA’s first speedsolving event involved Minh Thai in 1982, who solved it n 22.95 seconds. To find out more, visit their link. In truth, most people aren’t into competitions, but simply want a puzzle to wile away the hours on a rainy afternoon. As such, this colorful puzzle became one of the top-sellling toys in history. In fact, in 2015 the Rubik’s Cube became Walmart’s best-selling toy with over $111 million in sales.
5. Hot Wheels: Over 4 Billion Units Sold
Here’s one of those unexpected success stories, you know, the kind where people believed the plan would fail, but it ended up being wildly successful instead. Such is the tale of Hot Wheels. In 1968 Elliot Handler of Mattel Toys decided to compete with Britain’s famed Matchbox cars. Those in his company touted it as a bad move, but as we all know now, it turned into a massive success. So much so that in 1997 Mattel purchased Tyco the owner of Matchbox cars. Did you know that Hot Wheels are collectible and many have been designed by actual automobile designers? Well, it’s true. Larry Wood worked for Ford before he began to design cars for Hot Wheels. Jack Ryan worked for Raytheon designing missiles. He then went to work for Mattel and was responsible for the internal design of the cars, ensuring that they were fast and agile.
4. Lego: Over 320 Billion Blocks Made
Named “Toy of the Century” twice, this themed construction toy from Denmark has touched the creative nerve in children and adults alike. Unlike standard blocks, the plastic Lego bricks interlock with one another, resulting in a sturdy creation that won’t topple. Lego isn’t all about construction sets, as they also have 8 Lego amusement parks and even a TV show called Lego Masters. Lego has such a long and diverse history that it’s only natural that it has some interesting facts. For instance, according to National Geographic, did you know that during Christmas there are around 28 Lego sets purchased every second, or that there are around 80 LEGO bricks for every person on the planet?
3. Barbie: Over 3 Billion in Sales
Barbie came into the world on March 9, 1959, at the hand of a one Ruth Handler. Mattel, Inc. took the reins and began manufacturing the doll, which resulted in a great financial success for the company. Throughout the years this little doll has served as a role model for little girls and went from being just a fashion doll to a multi-media enterprise including videos. For fun, check out this link from Good Housekeeping to see the most popular Barbie the year you were born.
2. Pokemon: Over 440 Million Units Sold
According to Statista.com, the total number of Pokemon units sold worldwide was over 440 million units from 2005 to 2022. The best-selling game from the entire franchise being Pokemon Red/Blue/Green which accounted for a total of 31 units. Created by Satoshi Taijiri in 1996, the universe of Pokemon revolves around creatures called Pokemon who are trained by humans to be fighters. The name “Pokemon” comes from two English words, pocket and monster. Pokemon is known as being the highest selling multi-media franchise in history, even outdistancing Star Wars, Mario and Mickey Mouse.
1. Video Games: Over $93 Billion in Sales
Video games remain King of Toyland now and the foreseeable future. When you consider the numbers it’s easy to comprehend. For instance, Tetris sold 500 million copies, Minecraft 200 million, GTA, 140 million, and the list goes on. According to Reference.com the industry is worth around $93 billion. Now, when you consider the units sold within the entire industry, there’s no question that the video game is histories best-selling toy, with no sign of slowing down, and mind you we’re not even factoring in the gaming consoles. In fact more research has shown that video games have a bevy of benefits to offer players. Whether you do a search for gaming benefits on blogs or Google Scholar, one can’t deny that not only are games here to stay, but they can assist in making us better people.
There you have it, 10 of the best selling toys in history. These toys have had such a prolific lineage that there’s a good chance that you’ve played with one or more of these toys at least once in your life. Toys ignite a child’s creativity helping them with problem solving issues as well as helping to develop their fine and gross motor skills. Toys also assist in promoting social interaction. During play children learn how to navigate relationships that they’ll soon mimic in the real world one day. Also, don’t forget that adults get to play too when you factor in video gaming and sports. As you can see, whether you’re a toddler or senior, there will always be some way to benefit from toys and the art of play.
For more interesting facts on expensive toys, check out this list of the Most Expensive Beanie Babies.