It was 1979 when Xavier Roberts and five of his friends developed the Little People Originals dolls, a loveable but odd looking children’s toy that would soon become known as the Cabbage Patch Kids. Roberts, a sculptor from Georgia with a love for sculpting and quilting, was the manager of a craft store. Working part-time to put himself through college, he stumbled across a grand idea, a new way to market his dolls that would very quickly make him rich beyond his wildest dreams.
In April 1975, Gary Dahl, a Los Gatos, California advertising executive, was in a bar listening to his friends complain about their pets. Although adorable and loveable, barking, dirty litter boxes, tearing up furniture, and constant feeding and care made messy pets somewhat of a nuisance at times. Gary said, jokingly, that a “pet” rock would be an ideal pet to own. He explained that a pet rock did not require feeding, walking, grooming, would not die or become sick and would not be disobedient. In short, they would be the perfect pet. When Gary arrived back home, he began thinking – maybe a pet rock was not such a bad idea after all. If it were marketed well, it just might work.
Rarely has a toy reemerged over and over again as a hit “new toy” as the Lemon Twist (or Jingle Jump, Footsie, Skip-A-Roo, or Skip It) has done. First introduced in the late 1960’s as the Footsie toy, it became very popular for several few years before gradually fading away into obscurity. Then in the mid-1970’s the toy reemerged as the Lemon Twist toy and became one of the top selling toys of the decade.
Flying disc toys have been thrown by people about as long as flat round objects existed. In the United States, two simultaneous “inventions” of the flying disc occurred on opposite ends of the country while a major tweaking of the disc design and a hearty dose of marketing set off the 1970’s Frisbee craze that lasted for nearly two decades.
Stuffed with soft, white cotton and covered with smooth, soft fur the Teddy Bear is an enduring stuffed animal loved by children all over the world. When the Teddy Bear was invented in the 1900’s, its popularity soared and turned its inventors from sole proprietors of a local candy store into one of the largest toy companies in history.
Hacky Sacks, or footbags, were popular with youth in the United States during the 1980’s. During the peak of the fad, several million Hacky Sack footbags were sold sold each year. Surprisingly, the Hacky Sack had been invented nearly a decade earlier and footbags in general have been enjoyed by the public for many centuries.
The Smurfs, a comic and television franchise, centered on a group of small blue funny talking creatures called Smurfs. Popular in the 1980’s, they appeared on television, t-shirts, miniature models, games, burger boxes, and in toy stores throughout the United States. Many may not know it, but the Smurfs were created over a decade before their surge to success.
Pokemon has undoubtedly left its mark on pop culture. The Pokemon characters themselves have become pop culture icons. Two different Pikachu balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an appearance on the cover of Time magazine, Pokemon Jets operated by All Nippon Airways, thousands of merchandise items, and a theme park in Nagoya, Japan in 2005 and Taipei in 2006, all attest to the impact the cute little monster characters had on our culture.
They come brightly colored and in shapes of animals, letters, princesses, and more. Kids trade them, collect them, and shoot them across the room which is why some schools have banned them. A pack of 24 costs about $4. Robert J. Croak, the 47-year-old founder of Brainchild Products (BCP), says he has sold millions and demand continues to rise.