Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Britain's Toy Story Century's Most Popular Presents Revealed

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Britain's Toy Story Century's Most Popular Presents Revealed

Article excerpt


FROM soldier's uniforms to Power Rangers, they represent the story of childhood over the last century.

The most popular toys of each decade provide a fascinating glimpse into how society and the concerns of the day influenced childhood favourites.

According to department store John Lewis, the bestsellers 100 years ago included a clockwork aeroplane, a blacksmith's outfit with tools and a jointed doll with china head. A decade later, under the cloud of the First World War, these had given way to a soldier's and nurse's outfit, a bomb thrower and a field gun with ammunition. But children were also asking for clockwork train sets and dolls' prams.

The doll has been the enduring toy of choice for little girls. The Angela doll was popular in 1954; the Tippy Tumbles variety was favourite 20 years later; rag dolls were big in 1984; and the Butterfly Princess Barbie was a top seller in 1994, along with the Fisher Price Dream Doll's House.

The emergence of classic toys is also evident. The rocking horse first appears in 1924, alongside the Noah's Ark and wooden elephant on wheels. In 1934 all-time favourite the teddy bear was the big seller, along with table tennis sets and the Jog-ALong Horse. A decade later, the Second World War left its mark on playtime. Top sellers include a scale model of a barrage balloon lorry and the Frog interceptor fighter, alongside the pocket chess set.

Judy Faraday, retail historian at John Lewis, said: "Wartime is reflected in the big guns as toys.

There are also trends for mechanical toys which now have batteries but used to be clockwork."

A board game based on TV panel show What's My Line? was the top seller in 1954. By the Sixties, children were more mobile thanks to the tricycle and the scooter, while 1974 was a good year for Corgi boxed toys, Airfix models and Meccano.

In 1984, the Super Speak and Spell educational game was popular, along with personal stereos. In 1994, Power Ranger figures were a top choice, along with Lego Duplo Animal Kingdom, the VTech precomputer Powerpad, Action Man and a radio-controlled car. …

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