From Pound Puppies to Tech Deck the best Christmas toys you forgot existed

As Christmas returns for yet another year, once again the battle rages on for which toy will take home the coveted top spot as the most-wanted item of the year.

Yet as recreational heavyweights such as Mattel, Fisher Price and Play Doh duke it out for the top spot, here at OK! we decided to take a more nostalgic approach and look back at some of the most beloved toys from years gone by.

Whether it was falling in love with Beanie Babies, or risking life and limb to try and secure a Tickle Me Elmo doll in a shopping frenzy – we all have toys that made our childhoods special.

You can check out some of the most popular in our list below.


Half hamster and half owllike creature, the electronic robotic toy made by Tiger Electronics was a must-have back in the late 90’s as kids across the country begged their parents to let them take home the fuzzy, interactive toy.

Starting out by speaking only "Furbish", the unique language that all Furbies use, over time the toy was designed to learn more and more English as children interacted with them, in an imitation of language acquisition.

The forward-thinking approach was considered highly innovative at the time, although this innovation wasn’t without its drawbacks. The United States National Security Agency was so concerned about its ability to listen, they thought that they may be used to record and repeat classified information – and subsequently banned them from all NSA property.

Sylvanian Families

Originally created in Japan back in 1984, Sylvanian families were a line of anthropomorphic animal figurines made out of flocked plastic that offered a unique twist on more traditional dolls houses and their inhabitants.

Released in a variety of animals and ages, each ‘family’ could be accessorised with their own home, complete with furnishings made of porcelain and wood.

These highly collectible items were very popular with adult collectors, but due to their fragile nature were later replaced with more durable plastic for younger owners.

Popular throughout the 80s and 90s, the toys even spawned their very own animated series to critical acclaim, however by the late 1990’s their popularity had begun to decline, with the items pulled from British shelves just before the millennium.

Despite a brief absence, they soon returned under new management, and despite changing ownership several times in the decades since, the brand was able to celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2020 – having successfully introduced itself to a new generation of fans.


Invented by Aki Maita and created by Akihiro Yokoi in 1996, the now iconic electronic pet from Japan was one of the biggest crazes of the 90’s and early 00’s.

Raising a pet from birth to death, owners were required to feed, play and clean up after their pet, lest it pass away before its time.

The pocket sized robotic pet was the bane of many a school teacher’s existence, as the constant demands of the ‘pet’ often meant distracted children and a multitude of bleeping alarms disrupting the class.


Bratz first hit the shelves back in 2001, after former Mattel employee Carter Bryant introduced a new take on the traditional fashion doll.

Standing at just 10 inches tall, featured almond-shaped eyes adorned with eye shadow and lush and big glossy lips, while also being characterised by large heads in comparison to their bodies.

Widely popular with their target age demographic, the dolls also courted controversy with many parents, with issues ranging from their stylized proportions to fashion-forward clothing.

They also drew ire from Mattel themselves, who launched legal proceedings against the company over rights to the designs. The toy giant subsequently lost, with the court finding in favour of Bratz, however

Game Boy

While kids today have undoubtedly been exposed to the descendants of Nintendo’s popular handheld console, there’s still no beating the original and iconic Gameboy classic.

Often epitomised by the equally iconic – and highly addictive – game Tetris, complete with catchy rendition of ‘Korobeiniki’, the console marked a massive milestone in gaming history and firmly cemented itself in the gaming hall of fame for spawning a legacy of next gen consoles, including the Gameboy Advance and Gameboy Colour.

Tickle Me Elmo

Sesame Street has been a mainstay staple in many childhoods since its debut back in the 1960s, but it was the release of Tickle Me Elmo back in 1996 that took the world by storm.

The must have present of the year, demand for the cute and cuddly toy soon outstripped supply, with shoppers even fighting in store in order to get their hands on the coveted item.

Tickle Me Elmo was so popular in fact, that some parents even got themselves arrested while trying to secure one, with rumours also circulating that one desperate parent once splashed out almost £6000 just to bring one home.

Sky Dancers

Easily one of the more unpredictable toys to make the list, Skydancers were a law unto themselves.

The elegant dolls were designed to twirl skywards upon pulling a string, yet more often than not were impossible to predict in which direction they would fly, often leading to many an unplanned collision.

Yet despite the potential risk of a sky dancer to the face, they were one of the most coveted toys to grace the school yard in 1994.


Originally released in 1987 to capitalise on the craze of Critters, Gremlins and Ghouls sweeping the nation, these rubber puppets were created by Jim Hemson Company alumni Tim Clark, Maureen Trotto and Larry Mass.

In a deviation from many others toys released in the 80’s, notably Boggling were not accompanied by any comic book, TV series or film, and instead made themselves a household name based on toy sales alone.

Pound Puppies

A happy compromise for children desperate to own a pet and parents who didn’t fancy the expense, commitment, or mess, Pound Puppies took the world by storm throughout the 80s and 90s.

Packaged in cardboard ‘doghouses’ the plush puppies came in a variety of breeds and were accompanied by their very own adoption certificate.

Beanie Babies

No Christmas toy retrospective would be complete without mentioning the 90s phenomenon that was Beanie Babies. Originally launched in 1993, the range of popular stuffed toys were filled with plastic pellets.

While many children were content to simply home one of the soft, posable plushies, they also spawned a huge collector’s market which still prevails today.

One particularly in demand beanie, is Princess the Bear, launched in memory of the late Princess Diana. While sales of this bear have historically contributed to the Princess Diana Memorial fund, the collector’s market has seen her carry a price tag of up to $500,000 in the US.


Originally known as Milk Caps and around since the 1920s, Pogs enjoyed a major resurgence in the 1990’s, with many popular brands also jumping into the game and releasing special branded editions.

Played with flat circular cardboard Pogs, players were asked to make a stack of these caps, and take turns to drop a heavier "slammer" object onto it, causing the caps to be disrupted.

Not only was the game simple and accessible for all, it also had the added bonus of allowing players to collect the coveted printed Pogs and trade them among friends.

Stretch Armstrong

A staple of many childhoods since 1976, Stretch Armstrong was a large gel-filled action figure, that resembled a body builder, and that possessed the unique ability to be stretched from a mere 15 inches to around 5ft in total!

Even today, Stretch is still available to buy, after briefly being pulled from shelves between 1997 and 2016.

He has also spawned a TV series, successful run of comics, and even a video game in the years since returning to stores.

Harry Potter Electronic Book of Spells

Plenty of Harry Potter merchandise could easily make the list, but one standout item in particular is 2001’s electronic spell book.

Modelled on a similar principle to a Pokedex (of Pokemon fame) the electronic book provided a complete compendium of spells and famous witches and wizards to help any would be wizard on their way.

Alongside being laden with information, the book also featured a quiz function and even had it’s own planner and calendar to help keep you organised.

Tech Deck

Finger-boarding, the use of a tiny finger sized skateboard has been around since the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that they became a commercial success, with Tech Tech easily being one of the most memorable names on the market.

Popular throughout many major world markets, the pint sized skateboards allowed users to perform a variety of skating tricks, including grinds, flips and jumps on a series of specifically designed ramps and equipment.

They are still a widely successful and available to purchase today.

Polly Pocket & Mighty Max

Polly Pocket may have made a comeback in recent years, but it’s the iconic pocket sized compacts that holds a special place in our nostalgic heart.

The portable play sets first released in the 1980s, featured figures less than an inch tall and could be housed in miniature compacts that served as a dolls house.

Originally marketed to young girls, the success of the range also spawned Mighty Max, a corresponding range of playlets geared towards young boys.

Pet Rock

We’re going for a full on 70’s throwback now, with the honourable mention of the infamous Pet Rock. Originally marketed like live pets in custom cardboard boxes, complete with straw and breathing holes, the ‘toy’ formed part of a short-lived craze in 1975.

While we doubt many kids today would see the funny side of being presented with a pet rock on Christmas morning, it stills marks an iconic (even if laughable) moment of festive nostalgia for many.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots

Having stood the test of time, Rock ‘em Sock ‘em has remained virtually unchanged since its introduction to the market all the way back in 1964.

The iconic red and blue robots allowed players to duke it out among themselves in what served as an homage to the early boxing games that appeared in arcades throughout the early part of the decade.


Barbie is a familiar face to many children these days, just as she had been to boys and girls for generations before – but her appearance now is a far cry from her earlier days.

Originally designed to offer an adult doll instead of the infant dolls prominent in the 1950s, Barbie was launched as a teenage fashion model in the Spring of 1959.

Often attracting criticism for promoting an unattainable physique, the brand underwent a reboot in recent years, with many more diverse body types, ethnicities and heights now available.

Tall, petite and curvy body types are all now available as part of the iconic range, with some even sporting limb differences and disabilities, to help children identify with dolls that best resemble themselves.

Playstation (and Dance Mat!)

We may be onto a PS5 these days, but it was the Original PS1 that started it all when it first hit the shelves in Japan in 1994 before moving into the UK in 1995.

In a clear evolution from consoles of the past, the console featured for the first time, a disk drive to allow users at home to play games this way instead of using a cartridge method, previously seen in consoles such as the N64 and Megadrive.

Bringing us a wealth of games including Tekken, the Playstation was a must have item right up until 2000, when it’s successor, the PS2 swiftly knocked it off the top spot.

Alongside the Playstation, there were also a number of other accessories that could heighten a players enjoyment, including in particular a dance mat, so that players could play Dance Dance Revolution without ever having to set foot in an arcade.

Teddy Ruxpin

In the final addition to our list, we bring you Teddy Ruxpin – an animatronic bear that told stories alongside a series of eye and mouth movements.

Considered to be adorable by some and the stuff of nightmares by others, it enjoyed a solid run of sales throughout the 80s, 90s and 00’s, taking the best selling toy crown in both 1985 and 1986 respectively.

A 2006 version of the bear also proved to be popular, with Creative Child Magazine even awarding it the coveted 2006 Animated Interactive Plush Toy of the Year award.


  • To read the very best of today’s OK! content from breaking news to Royals and TV – CLICK HERE
  • Harry and Meghan reveal 2022 Christmas card – and wish for 'peace' after Netflix series

  • Christine McGuinness’s Christmas Day plans with ex Paddy – nuggets for lunch as kids come first

  • X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson marries Jonny Hughes – 11 months after engagement

  • For the latest showbiz exclusives, sign up to our daily OK! newsletter

Source: Read Full Article