Pop culture is anything dominant or prevalent in society at any given time. The primary driving force behind it is mass appeal. When people think of pop culture, it’s usually about entertainment, i.e. films, music, television, and video games. But pop culture is so much more than that. Other categories include such things as sports, politics, fashion, technology, and toys.
Today, the toy business is booming, and for good reason. The NPD group projected worldwide toy sales to top around $99B by 2022. But it didn’t always look like this. To understand the journey toys have taken and the cultural implications that have come along, let’s take a look back to the 1950s.
The 50s were the years when the war/fighting had finally ended and the first Toys “R” Us was founded. This changed the toy industry forever. Before Toys “R” Us, there were only small mom-and-pop shops where few toys were sold. Toys back then were a symbol of abundance and prosperity with practical purposes. Toys today can be looked at as learning tools that engage children’s senses, spark their imaginations and encourage them to interact with others.
While toys have changed over the years, a lot are still around attracting the likes of many. Below are some of the most popular toys from a specific time period.
World War II Era Toys of the 40s included:
- Gilbert Erector Sets
- Army Doctor/Nurses Kit
- Steel Radio Flyer Wagon
Some of the most popular 50s & 60s toys included:
- Tonka Trucks
- Mr. Potato Head (Invented in the 40s, but became a cultural icon during the ‘50s and ‘60s.)
Like many toys of this era, these figures are still popular collectibles. A mint-condition Barbie from the ‘60s can run as high as $25k.
A few of the most popular toys in the 70s included:
The 80s brought us pop culture toys like:
- My Little Pony
- Cabbage Patch Kids
- Care Bears
- Polly Pocket (If you can believe it, Polly Pocket came out in 1989.)
A few of the most popular toys of the 90s included:
In the past 20 years, the toy craze brought us: