The Best Selling Toys In History

By Saturday, January 8, 2022 0

All of us had a favourite toy that we treasured as a child. But have our favourite toys stood the test of time? Whether you grew up with a Rubik’s Cube in the ’80s or were around to witness the birth of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the ’90s, how do the best selling toys of your era hold up nowadays? Let’s take a trip down memory lane and have a look at some of the best selling toys in history. 

mathematics gbb4c46868 640 1

Rubik’s Cube 

  • Release Year: 1980
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 4.5 million
  • Age Range: 3 years and up

The ever-popular Rubik’s cube is a problem-solving game created by Hungarian sculptor Ernő Rubik. The aim of the 3D cube is to match the separate squares of colour, so each face is all the same colour. It might not sound too challenging, but people work to solve it even today. There are regular competitions to see who can solve a Rubik’s cube the fastest, cementing this toy as one of our favourites even 40 years after its release.¹ 

Cabbage Patch Kids 

  • Release Year: 1983
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 2.5 million 
  • Age Range: 3 years and up

Young art student Xavier Roberts invented Cabbage Patch Kids, and their breakout sales went down in record as the most successful new doll introduction in the toy industry’s history. They are one-of-a-kind cloth dolls with plastic heads and yarn hair with birth certificates and adoption papers. Since their release year, Cabbage Patch Kids have had several makeovers, including an astronaut for their journey on the U.S. space shuttle and a mascot for the Olympics. They continue to be a firm favourite among children and adults.² 


  • Release Year: 1984
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 10 million
  • Age Range: 5 years and over

Originally produced in Japan, Transformers are robot toys with moveable parts that allow the toy to become a vehicle, animal or device. Each toy comes with a name and backstory written by Marvel writer Bob Budiansky to encourage children’s creativity. The toys have remained so popular since their release year that they’ve spawned a cartoon series, comic books, video games and several movies.³

My Little Pony 

  • Release Year: 1985
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 16 million
  • Age Range: 3 years and over

My Little Pony toys are plastic horse figurines with nylon fibre hair that children can brush and style. Each pony has a name and a picture painted on its rump (called cutie marks) that distinguish each pony’s unique characteristics. These toys spawned a franchise that is still going strong today. From movies screened in cinemas to cuddly plush toys, My Little Pony remains as popular with kids now as it was in the ’80s

video game console g922f1a7b9 640 1


  • Release Year: 1986
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 7 million consoles, plus 32.5 million cartridges
  • Age Range: 6 and over

The Nintendo Entertainment System was a must-have in households across Europe and America during the late ’80s, with iconic titles such as Super Mario Bros and the Legend of Zelda available to play. People still play these classic games and characters today, and Nintendo has released several popular consoles that people continue to play to this day. 

Game Boy 

  • Release Year: 1989
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 1.1 million units, plus 2.5 million cartridges
  • Age Range: 5 and over

Another Nintendo venture, Game Boy was a portable, handheld gaming device, allowing people to play games on the go. Although they were immensely popular in the 80s, the Game Boy hasn’t really stood the test of time. With the emergence of brand new consoles, including PlayStation and the Nintendo 64, and more sleek portable systems, the Game Boy is very rarely seen these days. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 

  • Release Year: 1990
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 30 million 
  • Age Range: 4 years and over

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started out as a comic book series and T.V. show in the early ’80s, and the characters were so popular that they spawned a merchandise line, including these ninja turtle action figures. They were the third best selling toy at the time, and the reboots of the movies and T.V. series have ensured that the ninja turtles remain a classic favourite amongst kids. 


  • Release Year: 1994
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 350 million
  • Age Range: 5 and over

Pogs was originally a playground game played with stacked bottle caps and a metal disc called a slammer. Players use the slammer to knock down the bottle caps, and whichever caps they knock down they get to keep. Whoever has the most pogs wins. The birth of the World Pog Federation in the ’90s revitalised this game. However, the public quickly forgot Pogs in the early 2000s as more modern technology came in.

beanie baby g8e8979cb6 640 1

Beanie Babies 

  • Release Year: 1995
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 100 million
  • Age Range: 6 and over

Beanie Babies are soft toys with bodies stuffed with pellets that allow them to be posed in several different ways. Although the toys were popular, H. Ty Warner, their founder, began ceasing production of the most sought after animals to create scarcity, and a market frenzy ensued. There are still many Beanie Babies collectors; however, the toys have never again been as popular as they were in the late ’90s.⁸  


  • Release Year: 1997
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 40 million
  • Age Range: 5 years and over

A Tamagotchi was a handheld device that allowed the user to look after a digital pet. Due to their originality, Tamagotchis flew off the shelves. The digital pets demanded constant attention in the same way real-life pets did, and if they weren’t fed, bathed or looked after properly, they would literally die. This caused an emotional attachment to the device, known as the Tamagotchi effect. People still buy Tamagotchis today; however, they’re not as in demand as they once were. 


  • Release Year: 1998
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 1.8 million
  • Age Range: 3 and over

The Furby, an animatronic furry pet, was inspired by the Tamagotchi. The creators thought that the only issue with the digital animal was that it couldn’t be pet, so they created one that could. With its big blinking eyes, flapping ears, fluffy body and garbled language, the Furby was a hit with children worldwide. Although Furbies have had their ups and downs in recent years, the toys still manage to make their way off shelves each year.¹⁰ 


  • Release Year: 1999
  • How Many Sold In Breakout Year: 23 million
  • Age Range: 8 and over

The iconic Pokemon cards were first released in the U.S. and across Europe in 1999, but the franchise began in Japan many years earlier. Pokemon card tournaments followed the popular release, which now have world championships, and an animated series came out the following year that is still shown today.¹¹

Current Best Selling Toys

Although the toy industry may have changed, our children’s interest in them has not. There are many toys that children these days dream of finding under their Xmas tree – and many of them aren’t quite so different to the ones we’ve already gone over! Here are just some of the toys that have been flying off the shelves recently. 

Baby Yoda Plush 

Star Wars toy sales were up 70% in 2020¹², mainly because of this little guy. Grogu, or Baby Yoda, is a character in the T.V. series The Mandalorian, and kids and adults around the globe fell in love with him. So much so, that this plush toy of him has been well sought after over Christmas. 

Pop Its 

Pop Its have become the new fidget spinners, helping the user to relieve stress and relax. The toy works similar to bubble wrap in that the user has to push the bubbles of the multi-coloured silicone tray then flip it open and push them back through again. Since March, more than 12 million Pop Its have been sold in the U.K. alone¹³, and the toys are now being produced in a variety of shapes and colours. 


Lego has been popular since its creation in the early 20th century, and their themed packs are incredibly popular among both children and adults. Most notably, the Lego Marvel Avengers: Endgame Final Battle and Lego Elf Clubhouse have been flying off the shelves over the last year, contributing to their 46% revenue increase in 2021.¹⁴

Lol, Surprise! Dolls 

The modern-day Barbie or Brats, Lol Surprise! Dolls have been so popular over Christmas that the company has only met around 65% of the demand¹⁵. With different packs and accessories available, Lol Surprise! Dolls have been growing in popularity since their conception in 2016 and are a favourite amongst young children.

Our Classic Toys

Although the time may change, it seems that our taste in toys does not! Many of these classic best selling toys remain well known among both children and adults, so dust off those boxes in the attic and break out your favourite for old times sake! 

Have your favourite best selling toys stood the test of time? Let us know in the comments below! 











Comments are closed.