The Top Five Highest Selling Toys Ever

The Top Five Highest Selling Toys Ever

06/22/2021

Every generation can share that one special toy they recall begging their parents for, receiving for Christmas or a birthday and sharing with friends on the playground. It was the one that ‘everyone’ had and was the most popular at the time. Some of these special items have stood the test of time. Others, were a fad that went away after a few years.

While you may be able to guess at some of the highest grossing toys of all time, (i.e., Barbie anyone?) others may surprise you. What we thought of as a small trinket is merchandise that continues to find it’s way into the hands of children as decades roll by.

5 LEGO

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One way to stay at the top of the list is to continually reinvent yourself, a goal LEGO reached with staggering success. The colorful building blocks first hit shelves in 1947, a renewed take on Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys. According to Good To Know, 400 million people worldwide have played with LEGO’s at some point in their lives and seven sets are estimated to sell every second, making LEGO a 2020 revenue of nearly $44 billion. When sales began to wane, LEGO fought back, partnering with Disney, Warner Bros. and many others to create sets featuring kids’ favorite characters of the year. They offer Inside Tours of the LEGOLAND Billund factory at more than $2,000 per person and visit a town near you each year for LEGO conventions. Recently, Fox released LEGO Masters, a reality television show about the folks that make unbelievable and amazing designs, strictly out of LEGO’s. It’s safe to say, LEGO won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon.

4 Barbie

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Another billion-dollar industry ($1.35 according to Mattel’s 2020 reports), Barbie has also stood the test of time and become a cultural icon around the world. In 1959, Mattel released their first blonde doll that resonated with young girls everywhere at the American International Toy Fair in New York. Clearly, one secret to success, is the ability and willingness to change and evolve with the masses. Barbie has gone from a blonde haired, blue-eyed model to representing every ethnicity, occupation and size as Mattel grew in inclusivity. According to Blitz Sales Software, in 2016, Mattel introduced three new body types to the collection (tall, petite and curvy) as an answer to consumer concerns and desire to see Barbie look more like them.

3 Cabbage Patch Dolls

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Artist Xavier Roberts sold his Cabbage Patch Doll design to Coleco in 1983 and by the end of the year, the company had sold more than $3 million in dolls. You can “adopt” them, pick your own name and mail to Babyland General Hospital and receive a birth certificate for the larger-than-life baby doll young girls and boys were carrying around everywhere they went. The doll was the start of the annual Christmas toy craze we see each year, as near riots ensue for the perfect and most desired gift. That 1983 Christmas, The Cabbage Patch doll that retailed for $25 could easily go for $2,000 in black market sales according to Antique Trader. Though the license for manufacturing and selling Cabbage Patch dolls has changed several hands over the years, overall, the doll has generated more than $6 billion to date.

2 Rubik’s Cube

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Who knew a small color-block puzzle would result in mad hysteria when it hit shelves in 1974? According to Love to Know, the Rubik’s cube was invented by Hungarian Erno Rubik who studied architecture and sculpture. The small block toy had a slow start but by 1983, had generated $100 million in sales and was thought to be unsolvable. Rubik’s Cube challenges exist today, as fans and competitors vie for the fastest time to solve the puzzle (3.47 seconds by Yusheng Du) and like other toys on the list, when popularity wanes, it hits a new generation and sales soar once again. During the mid-1990’s, the cube found renewed interest and then again in 2017, the Rubik’s Brand, with the help of variations of the original, earned record sales of $250 million.

1 Hot Wheels

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Another massive success by Mattel and fresh off of the wildly successful Barbie, the company had to find the equivalent for the young boy’s demographic. Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler saw an opportunity and according to The Hustle, poached car designers from GM, Chrysler and Ford to create the first set of 16 Hot Wheels. In 1968, at just $0.59 each, Mattel sold 16 million and today the Hot Wheels franchise is worth an estimated $8.5 billion. Not only are young boys and girls still enjoying the small versions of cool cars, but unique to this most popular toy is the avid adult collectors. Mattel claims there are 15 million “avid collectors” today and men in their 50’s and 60’s are willing to pay thousands to complete their collections.

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Sources: Good to Know, Blitz Sales Software, Antique Trader, Love to Know, The Hustle

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