We all have treasured memories of running downstairs at Christmas to see what presents would be waiting for us under the tree. And through the years there have always been those must-have toys that made the top of every child’s list. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit the toys that made Christmas magical.
In the mid-1950s Scrabble first made its appearance in the UK. Families spent evenings crowded around the board, each hoping for a chance to play the tricky Qs and Zs.
Hula Hoops were also popular, as the nation twirled their hips in a bid to be the best. Over 20 million were sold in the first year, which must have made for some interestingly shaped presents under the tree!
Other must haves: The historic launch of Sputnik inspired one of the decade’s most popular toys – the Bleep Bleep satellite.
In the swinging 60s families got creative with the launch of Spirograph and Etch a Sketch that gave everyone the chance to show off their inner artist - and are still popular today.
The James Bond Aston Martin car and Hot Wheels were also top of many children’s Christmas lists, and Scalextrics remained popular, with the race tracks spread across the living room floors of houses across the country.
Other must haves: Boys got their first doll as Action Man launched, and Sindy was top doll for the girls.
A rundown of favourite toys wouldn’t be complete without Lego. In the 1970s there was a frenzy for the building blocks and they were named Toy of the Year three times in the decade. Fathers and sons spent hours carefully constructing their masterpieces and it was so popular that it has since been named the Toy of the Century.
Mastermind was also a success, no doubt making for some competitive pre-Christmas dinner contests as Codebreakers and Codemakers entered a battle of wits.
Other must haves: Connect Four was the ultimate in simple, low-tech fun.
As Christmas wishlists go, a small plastic cube isn’t much to ask for. But that’s what kids in the 1980s were hoping to find in their stockings as the Rubik’s Cube swept the nation and ranked top of the toy charts two years running. No one could resist trying to complete it – after all, how hard could it be?
As Star Wars became a pop culture phenomenon, overwhelming demand for the toys meant many children received just a box containing a voucher that could be redeemed the following year for a toy – a long time to wait for their much-anticipated gift!
Other must haves: Optimus Prime from Transformers was another must-have toy that led to shortages, and Sylvanian Families began a run of success.
One toy that undoubtedly made its mark in the 1990s is the Furby. The talking, interactive furballs arrived in late October 1998 and quickly sold out. They delighted the children lucky enough to get one (and often irritated their parents!)
Also topping the charts was the Nintendo Game Boy, the new craze of Pogs and the Yoyo – which made an incredible comeback selling £30m worth as children clamoured to be the best at tricks like the Cat’s Cradle and Walk the Dog.
Other must haves: After the release of Toy Story in 1995, children dreamt of owning their own Buzz Lightyear but stock shortages left many fans disappointed.
In recent years the fad for must-have Christmas toys has continued. Japanese spinning tops Beyblades stole the show in 2002 and 2003, while the resurgence of the Dr Who TV series made the Cyberman mask the must-have accessory in 2006.
Furbies also reappeared and topped the charts again in 2013 – this time with high-tech LED eyes. And another kind of digital pet also enjoyed popularity, as Tamagotchis flew off the shelves.
Other must haves: Although bikes are the ultimate traditional Christmas gift, thousands of children hoped to find a Razor Scooter under the tree.
The trend for must-have Christmas toys is still going strong. This year, Disney Frozen dolls and Bop It! Beats are predicted to be the gifts children hope to find on Christmas morning and, just like all the toys above, they’ll create memories that can be enjoyed forever.