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This list encompasses the top 10 hot Christmas toys of all time. When I say ‘hot,’ I mean the ones flying off the shelves, that every kid just HAS to have, the kind of toy that brings out the best in everyone. Kids (and some adults) spend their time feverishly begging and pleading for the item, while normally calm and level-headed people become hot-headed shopping maniacs.

I could have easily made a list of the top 50 hottest Christmas toys in history. It was hard to leave out the famous Spirograph, Star Wars, Slime and the Slinky, among others. I also came across some hot Christmas toys that I hadn’t heard of before, like the one million plastic bubble topped cars that sold in 1946 (made by Wannatoy).

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In an effort to narrow the list down, I tried to focus on crazes that seem well, crazy, today or that have crazy stories related to their popularity. Toys got extra hot points if they were influential on the future of the toy industry (both developments and marketing).

Time to ride the crazy train through the last 60 years of Christmas toy history! Here is my top 10 list of hot Christmas toys of all time, placed in order of their release –

10. Mr. Potato Head

1952

1 million sold

Hasbro

The Christmas Story

Originally George Lerner’s idea for this famous toy spud seemed like it might be a dud. At first, no one seemed interested in his idea, but eventually a small family-run toy company called Hasbro began production. Mr. Potato Head became so popular that a Mrs. Potato Head was introduced the next year.

The Craziness

Mr. Potato Head was the very first toy advertisement on TV. Thank you Hasbro for starting the never-ending chorus of ‘Can I have that?! I want that!” that started in living rooms in 1952 and hasn’t died down to this day. I think Tylenol probably owes Mr. Potato Head a kickback for a jump in profits, particularly around Christmas.

In more recent news, a six foot tall 150 pound Mr. Potato Head statue went missing from the entrance of a private estate on Rhode Island in 2003. It showed up in a field a few days later. Sgt. James Quinn stated that Mr. Potato Head was “mashed a little bit” during the incident (boston.com). No one knows how what happened, but there is some speculation that Mr. Potato Head had relocated to the field in an effort to get back to his roots.

9. Pet Rock

1975

over 5 million sold in 6 months

Rock Bottom Productions

The Christmas Story

In his own words, Ad executive Larry Dahl “ hit on the idea while boozing with pals” (people.com). Next, he sent a press release out to “virtually every major media outlet” leading to articles in several local newspapers, Newsweek, and an appearance on The Tonight Show.

The fad peaked during the 1975 Christmas season and it is estimated that Dahl earned over 15 million dollars during the six months that Pet Rocks were popular.

The Craziness

Um, hellooooooooo – every day during the 1975 Christmas season 100,000 people were paying money for a pet rock. What is even more crazy? As I write this, Pet Rock USB buddies are sold out at thinkgeek.com and actual Pet Rocks are still selling on eBay for up to $15.00.

In other news, I’m sorry to report that you missed this year’s Pet Rock Festival. The festival is held in Worcester, Massachusetts and promotes kindness to all animals. Instead, you can sit down and listen to Teenage Fanclub’s song “Pet Rock” (Bandwagonesque, Spin’s Album of the Year, 1991) while you enjoy a glass of Pet Rock Wine.

8. PONG

1975

150,000 sold

Atari

The Christmas Story

“Pong was an adaptation of the company’s popular arcade game of the same name, and it became the most popular game of the 1975 holiday season, with sales of $40,000,000 for the year” (ideafinder.com).

The Craziness

When it comes to home video games, Pong really started the ball rolling. When you see it in action now, it’s hard to believe that a few lines on a TV screen could cause such a ruckus, but Pong was 1975’s version of a Wii. “People were waiting two hours in line to sign up on a list just to get an Atari home version of Pong” (atarimuseum.com).

Frank Black may have asked “Whatever Happened to Pong?” on his album Teenager of the Year, but Pong’s legacy lives on in science and the arts. There are over 119 works of fan fiction about Pong at fanction.com. Also crazy (as in so cool, it’s crazy) ScienceDaily.com reported that students “have adapted an open source game called ‘Pong’… enabl[ing] the player to move the bat using their eye.” This innovation “could allow people with severe physical disabilities to become ‘gamers’ for the first time.”

7. Atari

1979

1 million sold

Warner Communications

The Christmas Story

Atari again? Yes, Atari gets two spots on this list of hottest toys because their products were crazy popular during two Christmas seasons.

The Atari Video Computer System (VCS) originally came out in 1977, it came with one game (Combat) and about half a dozen other games were available. That year “was not a good time for video game systems as the market experienced a crash after it had been previously oversaturated with Pong clones” (consoledatabase.com). While the Atari VCS is considered the first successful console with interchangeable cartridges, its sales were disappointing during its first two years.

However, by 1979 there were 32 titles in their library, including the very first video game with an Easter Egg (Adventure) and the first game licensed from a movie franchise (Superman)… and the first generation of gamers had been born. That year the Atari CVS, renamed the Atari 2600, “was the bestselling Christmas present… and a million were sold that year”, while game cartridge sales were estimated at $100 million (wordiq.com).

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article courtesy of toptenz.net

Top 10 Hot Christmas Toys Of All Time  was originally published on praisecleveland.com

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