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Ever since there has been a rock to pick up or a stick to throw, there have been toys for kids to play with. But in the last 100 years, toys have gotten increasingly complex and subject to manufacturer’s hopes for big business. Here are some of the most popular toys of the past 100 years.



Favorite toy: Roominate

Also in the toybox: XBox One, PlayStation 4, Fijit Friends, Frozen Snow Glow Elsa, Nerf Rebelle

About: Toymakers finally started seeing girls as something other than dollbuyers. Roominate — a designable dollhouse — was invented by a couple of Stanford engineers as a fun way to inspire girls to go into science, technology, engineering and math. (Photo: Lenore Edman / Flickr)


NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12:  The hot holiday gift Bratz doll is seen in the FAO Schwarz store December 12, 2002 in New York City. There is no runaway best-selling toy this year. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Favorite toy: Bratz dolls

Also in the toybox: Nintendo DS, Hulk hands, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Pokemon, Zhu Zhu, Bionicle

About: Barbie had been the queen of doll fashion for more than 50 years — but the Bratz booted her off the throne in 2006 with their multi-ethnic, glamorous looks. With movies and CDs powering the Bratz brand, the dolls were it girls for several years. After some struggles, the dolls are expected to be reintroduced this summer. (Photo: Getty Images)


A Princess Diana commemorative Beanie Baby, one of six to be auctioned off at Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, Fla. is displayed by employee Joe Toohey, at the store Tuesday March 3, 1998. Ron Jon is holding a silent auction of the Beanie Babies to raise funds for tornado victims in central Florida. The money raised will be turned over to the American Red Cross to to aid in relief for the families recovering from the recent tornado damge. (AP Photo/Michael S. Green)

Favorite toy: Beanie Babies

Also in the toybox: Tickle Me Elmo, Furby, Nintendo 64, Little Tikes, Tamagotchi

About: Beanie Babies crossed the line almost immediately between being collectibles and being toys. The maker, Ty Inc., deliberately made them scarce and regularly retired and redesigned the toys to help increase value. They were wildly popular between 1995 and 1999.


Cabbage Patch Kids are shown on display in Boston on Nov. 28, 1983.  Coleco Industries is working hard to meet the unprecedented demand for the "adoptable" toys.  (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Favorite toy: Cabbage Patch Kids

Also in the toybox: Rubik’s Cube, Transformers, Teddy Ruxpin, Masters of the Universe, My Little Pony, Slap Bracelets, Rainbow Brite, Koosh balls

About: As new generations of kids began picking up toys, manufacturers began building franchises out of their most popular brands — adding TV shows and movies to keep the brand in the forefront. They were all hoping to match the popularity of the Cabbage Patch Kids, who inspired riots in department stores across the country in 1983. Cabbage Patch TV shows and records hit number one. (Photo: Associated Press)



Favorite toy: Nerf balls

Also in the toybox: Weebles, Paddington Bear, Stretch Armstrong, Speak and Spell, Shrinky Dinks, Atari 2600, Pet rocks

About: “Don’t play ball in the house!” That parental mantra was significantly challenged in 1970, when Parker Brothers introduced “non-expanding recreational foam” — Nerf. The Nerf brand has expanded through the years to include Super Soakers and Nerf Blasters. (Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr)



Favorite toy: SuperBall

Also in the toybox: Slip ‘n Slide, Easy-Bake Oven, Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Etch-A-Sketch, Barrel of Monkeys, Hot Wheels, Barbie’s Dream House

About: How do you know when you’ve created a popular toy? When members of the White House staff buy them for stress relievers. That’s what happened to the SuperBall after it took over the 1960s for a time — Wham-O was making up to 170,000 balls a day, and staff members for then-President Lyndon Johnson were given the balls as stress relievers. (Photo: Lenore Edman / Flickr)



Favorite toy: Hula Hoop

Also in the toybox: Mr. Potato Head, Wiffle ball, Matchbox cars, Frisbee, Magic 8 Ball, Chatty Cathy, Pogo stick, skateboard

About: The 1950s was a golden age for toys, as many of what are today seen as classics were invented or rose to popularity. None rose faster than the hula hoop — 25 million hoops were sold in just a few months after the product’s launch in 1958. (Photo: Flare / Flickr)



Favorite toy: Slinky

Also in the toybox: Bubble solution, Silly Putty, chattery teeth, drinking bird

About: The first 400 Slinkies, demonstrated at a Philadelphia department store in 1945, sold out in 90 minutes. The low-price toy — kept affordable for decades by the inventors for poor customers — has sold more than 300 million units since 1943. (Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr)



Favorite toy: Red Ryder BB Gun

Also in the toybox: Sorry! board game, beach ball, army men, View-Master, Buck Rogers Rocket Pistol.

About: Anyone who has ever seen the movie “A Christmas Story” knows the wonders of the Red Ryder – and the fear of shooting your eye out. It was put into production in 1938, named after the comic strip cowboy Red Ryder. The comic has been cancelled, but the wonders of the BB gun go on. (Photo: Tim Evanson / Flickr)



Favorite toy: Yo-yo

Also in the toybox: Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, Radio Flyer wagon, joy buzzer

About: The yo-yo can be traced back to before the birth of Christ, but it didn’t find mainstream success until a Filipino immigrant to the United States founded the Yo-yo Manufacturing Co. in 1928. In a year, his company was producing 300,000 yo-yos a day, and the “Wonder Toy” was taking over the country. (Photo: Doctor Popular / Flickr)



Favorite toys: Erector Set

Also in the toybox: Lincoln Logs, Raggedy Ann, Tinkertoys, Pirate and Traveler board game

About: As America was being built, building toys were hugely popular — none more so than the Erector Set, which owed its huge popularity to being the only set that included a motor. (Photo: Barbara Gilhooly / Flickr)

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