Mr. Potato Head has been around since 1952, though he was inspired by a similar toy called "Make a Face." The original Mr. Potato Head was a box with all the body parts, but you were expected to stick them on an actual potato (or any other vegetable, if you felt adventurous). 60+ years later and he's still a staple in every kid's toy box. Who can resist a spud with a mustache?
Alphabet Blocks have been around for centuries. We know that philosopher John Locke wrote about them in 1693, and they've been helping kids learn to spell and create for centuries. It's also tied with a wooden bead maze as the most popular doctor's office toy (I assume). I can smell the germs even from my screen.
The Magic 8 Ball was released in 1950, and was originally sold as a novelty paper weight. When it became more popular with kids, the Magic 8 Ball was rebranded as a toy. Do I want to buy one right now for old time's sake? Signs point to yes.
AKA Knucklebones, AKA Fivestones. Versions of this game have been around since Ancient Egypt. They didn't even have goodie bags back then (seriously, it felt like every birthday party goodie bag had these guys in them).
Etch A Sketch was invented by André Cassagnes in 1959, but it wasn't available for purchase until 1960. The design is ingenious: Aluminum powder covers the glass screen. Two knobs control a stylus. When the stylus moves, it scrapes off the powder, exposing the dark inside of the toy. When the Etch A Sketch is shaken, the glass is re-coated by the powder. Even with the invention of iPads, this beauty is still a road trip favorite amongst kids.
Ancient China is credited with inventing this flying contraption. It's still enjoyed today by kids and adults having a fun day at the park or beach. And by me, every time I listen to the Mary Poppins soundtrack.
While mass production of marbles began in the 1880s, early versions have been unearthed "in the ashes of Pompeii and the tombs of ancient Egyptians" (Mental Floss). Their exact origin is unknown, but what we do know is that this multi-purpose toy is still popular today whether for collecting, playing Ringers, playing Chinese Checkers, or racing them in one of these bad boys.
Build-a-Bear, Care Bears, Teddy Ruxpin...we wouldn't have any of these cuddle buddies if not for President Theodore Roosevelt. "Teddy" was his nickname, and in 1902 the avid hunter famously refused to shoot a bear that was tied up, considering it "unsportsmanlike." Thus, the Teddy Bear was born.
In 1798, Richard Lovell Edgeworth and Maria Edgeworth wrote about building blocks in Practical Education. That means building blocks are older than Pride and Prejudice. Holy Mr. Darcy! Here are some more reasons why blocks are important:
The Jack-in-the-Box first popped up in the 16th century, emphasis on "pop." As a kid, I always wondered why a Jack-in-the-Box played "Pop Goes the Weasel" and didn't have a weasel in it. As an adult, well, I still always wonder. I don't get out much. Please send pizza.