What are the Top Ten Toys of All Time? I don’t know, really. Sure, one can go by how many of a certain toy has been purchased, which would likely make Barbie dolls the highest selling toy ever. It’s certainly a very popular toy, and one which girls and collectors have made one of the top toys of all time. But such things are subjective.
What makes certain toys fun to play with? What makes some toys loved and used more over the years than others? I’ll tell you that it’s not how much animation and special effects are used on commercials advertising the toys that make a toy special, cherished, and well-loved–it’s qualities like how long a toy holds your attention, and how long you can have fun with it when you play with the toy with your friends that count.
Despite special effects and cartoons, for instance, superhero toys don’t fly if you have to use your hands to pretend that they’re flying. And if hungry hippos were even half as much fun to play with as commercials advertising a game about them makes it seem, that game would be the best-selling and probably most fun game of all time instead of one that barely holds your attention and interest past playing the game two or three times.
Does the cost of a game or toy make it more fun? While it’s true that sometimes a more expensive bike has more features on it, and can be a tremendous amount of fun to ride on, bikes are one of the few exceptions that prove the rule that toys don’t need to cost an arm and a leg to be fun. A deck of cards or a bag of marbles, while being inexpensive, can provide hours of fun and entertainment value. You can even enjoy playing with cards (and marbles, for that matter) with your own kids as an adult.
All of this is just to tell you that my following list and comments about the toys and games on it is a very subjective one, and it includes toys I personally played with when I was a boy. I’m sure I’ve left out many wonderful toys and games, but any list that anyone makes would, even if it’s a list of the Top One Hundred Toys of All Time. So, I invite you to please use the Comment form below to mention a few toys/games that were your favorites when you were younger, or that are your favorites now.
The following list is not necessarily based on what were my personal favorite toys alone, because I asked other people to tell me what their favorite toys were, but it does contain many toys that provided hours or more of fun for myself when I was a boy. Most of these toys (though not all) are still around, in one form or another, and I believe would still be fun for kids to play with today.
(10) Marbles. Okay, maybe the idea of playing with marbles might seem to some kids of today to be kind of lame. Once you start playing games with them, and learn about the different games that you can play using them and the various types of marbles that there are, I’m hoping and counting on you discovering that they are not all that lame, and that they can even be fun. I might be wrong in this belief, but I think that lots of today’s kids, if given the chance to play with marbles, will enjoy them as much as I did when I was a boy.
(9) Squirt Guns. Maybe these are also a bit old-fashioned, but there are many pretty cool newer ones that have tanks that can hold a lot of water. They can even be fun for teenagers and college students (who, of course, should be spending their time studying instead of blasting each other with Super Soakers, but seriously, which of the two is more fun?). There have been so many innovations made to squirt guns that they still maintain their popularity. One of their only drawbacks is that, in general, the only time of the year when you can have fun playing with them is when the weather is warm enough.
(8) Frisbees. These are great toys for people of all ages, really, and I could likely have justified ranking this toy much higher than I did. It takes a little bit of practice to use a Frisbee, but it’s pretty simple to learn to throw one and easy enough that almost anyone can have fun with them right out of their plastic-wrapped and cardboard containers.
It just gets more fun from there. There are numerous trick throws and catches you can learn, and quite a few games you can play with them, like Frisbee Golf. I played with them as a boy with my family and friends, and also when I was a teenager with friends, and I had a huge amount of fun playing with them as a college student, also. Chasing after them provides a good aerobic workout, too!
(7) Hot Wheels and Tracks. Hot Wheels seem to have always been popular for boys to play with. This is one example of a toy where the commercials use animation and special effects to sell them, and to make them look more fun than they really are. Still, there’s something about playing with cool-looking, colorful toy cars and racing them against your friends that is very appealing. Even if you might never as an adult be able to afford a Rolls Royce or a Porsche or Lamborghini, you can own and race their toy equivalents.
(6) Chess/Checkers. I still love playing both of these games, though I enjoy chess more. But some of my best memories of my father and one of my grandfathers was playing checkers with them, and my Dad was an excellent checkers player who, more often than not, would beat me. There is a surprising amount of strategy involved in checkers. I still love to play chess more, though. I am ultra-competitive, and get into destroying an opponent way too much. That’s a character flaw I have to work on–but probably won’t.
(5) Monopoly/Risk. Both of these games are very fun, and I highly recommend them to people of all ages. But, both games also have a very high potential to be the start of arguments over rules, and fights, and game boards being overturned. Both are also (though you can play shorter versions) very long games. You have to be willing to devote a large chunk of your day/evening to play an entire game of either.
They have their drawbacks, but these are games you can play and love both as a kid and as an adult. Also, Risk is great at teaching you strategy, and if you can survive long enough and collect enough of the cards you need, even if you get totally wiped out everywhere except for someplace like Australia or the Congo, you still have the chance to make a comeback and even win the game.
That is, if you haven’t gotten bored by the game and left, or gotten mad enough to have overturned the game board and stormed out of the house. Also, both Risk and Monopoly have many different varieties you can collect, especially in Monopoly’s case, like the Lord of the Rings one I chose for the above photo.
(4) GI Joes/Barbies. Okay, no, I didn’t play with Barbies, but I did play with GI Joes–the larger, original ones. I also didn’t have any sisters, so there were no Barbies even in my house as I was growing up, but I have them on the list because they are, without a doubt, one of the world’s most popular toys, and many are collector’s items worth big bucks.
I left the Joes behind probably by the time I turned ten or so, but they provided hours of fun for a few years of my life, off and on, pretending to battle the forces of evil and chaos around the world. Some of the Joes are also collector’s items–it’s just too bad I no longer have said action figures. I’d make a killing on E-Bay with them if I did, but they’ve gotten either lost, broken, or sold at yard sales over the years.
(3) Air Hockey. I’d always wanted an Air Hockey table, or so it seemed, and I finally got one at Christmas one year. It was pretty fun, and I like to play Air Hockey to this day at arcades. I also had a Ping-Pong table and a pool table in our basement, and I definitely spent way too many hours playing on them, but, oh, what fun memories I have of great times with my Dad and Mom. I didn’t include Ping-Pong or pool in this list, as I wasn’t sure if they’d classify as toys, but both are games that are also still among my favorites.
(2) Various Sports Balls/Super Balls. There are so many different types of sports you can play and have a great time playing, like baseball, soccer, football, and basketball. You can also have fun just playing catch, or tossing the ol’ pigskin around, or playing Horse with your buds. If you’re into soccer, you can also get a blast working with your skills at maneuvering the ball down the field with your feet.
And, then there are sports like tennis and golf, and though I’m not by any means an expert at these games, I’ve had many hours and a huge amount of fun playing them with my friends, brothers, and my Dad.
(1) Bikes. Yes, they just had to turn up on this list somewhere, whether you agree they should be at Number One or not. I chose them for this spot because almost every boy and girl dreams of having one as they grow up, and of having Santa or their parents getting them one. And, when they have one, they usually want an even nicer or prettier or cooler one the very next Christmas, if not sooner.
Bikes: They are practical, in that they can take you to physical places, like to the store, the library, the local swimming pool, or to school or a friend’s house. They are also ways to aid your imagination. As you ride them, you can imagine you’re riding at the speed of light, and feel the wind in your hair as you ride. You can pretend you’re the leader in some bike race, like the famous Tour de France, and only seconds away from breaking Lance Armstrong’s (or someone else’s) record.
So, those are my Top Ten Toys/Games. If you like ’em, hate ’em, agree with them or disagree, please leave your comments below!