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The Most Popular Birthday Gifts of the Last 50 Years

30 Sept 2021

Throughout the decades, there have been a wide range of iconic toys that have dominated the shelves and the birthday Wishlist's of children around the world. From the Rubik's Cube to the Gameboy, children always asked for the most in-demand toys for their birthdays. 

Moonpig has set out to find the most popular birthday gifts of the last 50 years by analysing a variety of popular gift lists over the decades as well as identifying which toys have been crowned the prestigious gift of the year award.

The most popular birthday gifts of the 70s 

1970: Sindy Doll by Pedigree Dolls & Toys

Sindy the fashion doll was a quintessential birthday gift for any young girl in the 1970s. She came with a range of interchangeable accessories and outfits and the dolls were revolutionary in promoting fashion for teenagers as well as adults. 

1971: Katie Kopycat Writing Doll by Palitoy

Sindy wasn’t the only popular doll in the 70s. Katie the Kopycat Doll was another popular birthday toy for young girls. She came positioned at a desk with a pen in hand, and the mechanism would copy what the child wrote on the other side of the desk. 

1972: Modelling Kit by Plasticraft 

The Modelling Kit by Plasticraft was the perfect toy for those wanting to get creative and crafty as the kits allowed you to make your very own keyrings and jewellery. Although no longer available, it’s similar to today’s children favourite, Playdoh.

1973: Mastermind Board Game by Invicta

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Moonpig Invictus Game

This vintage board game won the Game of the Year award in 1973 and is still played by millions around the world, and you can get an app to play it on your smartphone. 

1974/1975: LEGO 

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MoonpigLEGO was incredibly popular in the mid-70s, with a range of sets flying off the shelves throughout the years. Particularily popular and an in-demand birthday gift was the basic set, feautring a range of brightly coloured building bricks, allowing kids to explore their creativity.

LEGO-MOONPIG

1976: Kites by Peter Powell

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The most popular toy in 1976 was the kite. However, this wasn’t just any kite; these stunt kites were some of the first of their kind with dual lines and greater steerability. 

Kites Moonpig

1977: Playmobil

Source: Moonpig

Playmobil sets were a staple birthday gift in the 70s. And no matter your childhood interests, you could find a figurine set perfect for you, as there were a variety available from fire brigades to ambulances. 

Playmobil Set Moonpig

1978: Combine Harvester Toy by Britains

Among some of the most popular role play toys was the Combine Harvester toy by Britains. This allowed children to play out their farm-fantasies in their bedrooms, and are still a popular toy among young children today. 

1979: Legoland Space Kits by LEGO

Legoland Space Kits marked the third LEGO set claiming birthday gift fame in the 70s. The space series included a range of outer space kits from vehicles to spaceships, making the perfect toy for any aspiring astronaut. 

The most popular birthday gifts of the 80s 

1980/1981: Rubik's Cube by Ideal Toy Corp

Source 

The iconic Rubix cube became a pop sensation in the early 80s. The famous cube is still enjoyed around the world with Rubik's Cube tournaments regularly taking place.  

Rubiks Cube Moonpig

1982/1983: Star Wars Toys 

Source: Moonpig

After the launch of the franchise in 1977, Star Wars toys began to gain mass popularity in 1982 and 1983 among children, and were a staple on birthday wish lists.

Star Wars Toys Moonpig

1884: Masters of the Universe by Mattel

The iconic characters from the cartoon Masters of the Universe were made into figurines, and children roll played with the sorcery-themed toys for much of the 80s. 

1985/1986: Transformers Optimus Prime by Hasbro

Optimus Prime was one of the most sought-after action figures in the 1980s. Its popularity even led to stock shortages that Christmas. 

1987/1988/1989: Sylvanian Families by Epoch

Source: Amazon 

The Sylvanian Family gained popularity after the release of their cartoon show in 1987 the toy sets have experienced worldwide success with sets still being purchased to this day.

Sylvanian Families Moonpig

The most popular birthday gifts of the 90s 

1990: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Bandai

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon took the world by storm in the 90s. The four characters were a screentime sensation, gaining international success. The green ninja figurines soon became one of the most loved birthday gifts of the 90s.  

1991: Nintendo Game Boy by Nintendo

Source: Moonpig

It’s no surprise to see the Game Boy was one of the most sought-after birthday gifts. It has been described as a cultural icon of the 90s and has even claimed the title of the third best-selling gaming console of all time. 

Game Boy Moonpig

1992: WWF Wrestlers by Hasbro

Source: Topolgnussy 

WWF wrestlers were all the rage in the 90s. These action figurines soon became some of the most popular sports entertainment toys of their time, and are still collected by children - and adults - all over the world today. 

WWF Wrestlers Moonpig

1993: Thunderbirds Toys by Matchbox

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Matchbox Thunderbirds took the limelight in 1993. The iconic green shuttle also has a detachable hatch that releases Thunderbird 4 and made the perfect birthday present for aircraft fanatics. 

Thunderbirds toys Moonpig

1994: Power Rangers Toys by Bandai

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The Power Rangers were by far a favorite birthday gift in 1994. The teenage superheroes known for their iconic spandex suits and keeping villains at bay were a massive hit in the 90s. 

Power Rangers Moonpig

1995: POGS by Waddingtons

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POGS were a playground favorite among 90s kids. They were not only just an entertaining game but also a highly valued playground collectible. 

Pogs Moonpig

1996: Barbie by Mattel

Source: Moonpig

Barbie has been a much-loved icon for decades, but took her claim to fame in 1996, when she won the British Association of Toy Retailers award, and then again in 1997, proving to be one of the most popular birthday gifts for young girls. 

Barbie Moonpig

1997: Teletubbies Toys by Golden Bear Toys/Hasbro

Source: PSB

Taking TV by storm in 1997, Teletubbies episodes still air to this day, even though the series has not been in production since 2001. The popular, whimsical characters were much loved, and an integral part of not only birthday wish lists, but also birthday party themes in the late 90s.

Teletubbies Toys Moonpig

1998: Furby by Hasbro

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In 1998, Furby released its first model consisting of 48 colors and 22 special editions. 1.8 million Furbies were sold in 1998, and the toy was even translated into 24 different languages, demonstrating its international success. To many parents' detriment, these chatty, robotic toys were a must have by children all over the world for many years to follow.

Furby Moonpig

1999: Furby Babies by Hasbro

Furbies claimed the top spot for the second time in the 90s but this time with “Furby Babies”. These versions were slightly smaller with higher voices and were also able to speak significantly more compared to their 1998 release. 

The most popular birthday gifts of the 00s 

2000: Teksta the Robotic Puppy by ToyQuest

By Toyloverz 

Robotic Puppy Moonpig

ToyQuest started a craze in the early 2000s allowing kids from all over the world to enjoy a special pet without the mess. Over 7 million robotic puppies were sold in their first year making the toy one of the most popular birthday gifts of the new century. 

2001: Bionicle by LEGO 

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The comic series Bionicle was released in 2001, and soon became one of LEGO’s best-selling sets of its time.  

Bionicle Moonpig

2002/2003: Beyblades by Takara

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These spinning tops were an iconic toy of the early 2000s, with battles happening among children on the playground, at home, and even at birthday parties. 

Beyblades

2004: Robosapien by WowWee Toys

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Robosapien was the second robot to break the charts in the 2000s. This interactive toy had the ability to react to sound and touch while also being controllable from an infrared remote. Really showed the fascination of technology and the future with millennial children. 

Robosapien Moonpig

2005: Tamagotchi Connexion by Bandai 

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The Tamagotchi virtual pet was a smash hit in 2005, and is often reminisced about by millennials today. Children would attach their Tamagotchi to their belts, backpacks and beds, to take the best care of their virtual pet and never missing an opportunity to feed, train or play with them. 

Tamagotchi Moonpig

2006: Doctor Who Cyberman Mask by Character Options

By Paul Hudson

For those fans of Doctor Who, the Cyberman mask was a must-have toy. With three voice-changing features, a light-up mouth and a cyber weapon sound effects, it comes as no surprise that the mask was voted toy of the year in 2006. 

Doctor Who Cyberman Mask Moonpig

2007: In the Night Garden Blanket Time Igglepiggle by Hasbro

Source: Amazon 

In the Night Garden was one of CBeebies most loved shows of the 2000s. One of the main characters, Igglepiggle took center stage as the most loved toy of 2007. 

In the Night Garden Iggle Piggle Moonpig

2008: Ben 10 Action Figures by Spin Master

Ben 10 the animated TV series first aired in 2007, the franchise soon became a smash hit with their action figures coming out on top as the most loved toy of 2008. 

2009: Go Go Hamsters by Character Options

Go Go Hamsters were the newest pet craze in 2009. The low-maintenance battery-powered pets made the perfect companion and birthday present. 

The most popular birthday gifts of the 10s 

2010: Jet Pack Buzz Lightyear By Mattel 

Source: Moonpig 

The iconic Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear was equipped with a cool light-up jet pack and flying sound effects making it a stand out birthday gift in the early 2010s. 

Buzz Light Year Moonpig

2011: LeapPad Explorer by Leapfrog 

The LeapPad Explorer became the must-have toy in 2011. The tablet came equipped with a touch screen, microphone and a camera. Its main features included reading, playing games and listening to music. 

2012: Furby by Hasbro

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Furby climbed back up the charts in 2012, but this time with a range of new and improved features. This new generation of Furbys had multiple personalities, LED lights and an interactive app. 

Furby Moonpig

2013: Teksta the Robotic Puppy by Character Options

The Teksta Robot puppy also made a second appearance in 2013. The new and improved model was even able to do a somersault and land on its feet.  

2014: Disney Frozen Elsa Doll

Source: Moonpig

For those fans of Frozen, a Disney Frozen Elsa doll was the perfect birthday gift in 2014. The popularity of the toy even led to national shortages that year. Although loved by all children the singing doll’s soundtrack was hard to escape in 2014.  

Elsa Doll Moonpig

2015: Pie Face by Hasbro

The Pie Face game became an internet sensation in 2015, which featured a roulette wheel that threatened whipped cream in the face of its opponents. The toy soon became a birthday party favourite in households across the UK. 

Pie Face Moonpig

2016: Hatchimals by Spin Master

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These furry self-hatching creatures were a massive hit in 2016 and have since sold over 150 million eggs. 

Hatchimals Moonpig

2017/2018: LOL Surprise by MGA

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The LOL Surprise Doll gained mass popularity in 2017 and 2018 with 800 million being sold since its release, proving it to be one of the most popular birthday presents in the late 2010s. 

LOL Surprise Moonpig

2019: LOL Surprise 2 in 1 Glamper Fashion Camper by MGA

Source: LOL Surprise  

The LOL Surprise range claimed its third spot in the most popular toys of the 2010s with the glamper camper. The fully furnished camper spans two feet by three feet and is equipped with a variety of hangout areas and figurines. 

Camper LOL Moonpig

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