5 Iconic Toys & How They Came to Be
(Last Updated On: March 5, 2021)


5 Iconic Toys & How They Came to Be – Children have played with toys for centuries. We all have had our favorite dolls and games. Some of us even still have some toys from our childhoods collecting dust on a shelf or in a box. Somewhere, a collection of Legos waits to wreak havoc on the next generation of adult feet. Clusters of tangled Slinkies and un-solved Rubic’s Cubes remain undiscovered. Barbie dolls still in their box and train sets that once encircled a Christmas tree fill attics. But many of these toys still entrance children today. Despite digital games, children remain fascinated by many of the toys their parents loved.

Rediscover these 5 iconic toys & how they came to be.

1. Lincoln Logs

It’s hard to believe that kids today are still playing with a toy invented between 1916 and 1917. John Lloyd Wright, the son of the famous architect, designed the toy named Lincoln Logs. His idea for the toy came about as he watched his father, Frank Lloyd Wright, help build the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. The foundation of the hotel consisted of interlocking beams of wood.

The original set of Lincoln Logs came with instructions on building a miniature replica of Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood cabin. Lincoln Logs are so popular, they were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1999.

2. Care Bears

If you were a child in the ’80s, there is a good chance you had a Care Bear. Maybe you had Tenderheart Bear with a heart on its chest or Cheer Bear with a rainbow. There was also Bedtime Bear, Funshine Bear, Good Luck Bear, Wish Bear, and even a Grumpy Bear.

Those Characters From Cleveland (TCFC) created these colorful bears in 1981. The company was the licensing division of American Greetings, which introduced the Care Bears through a line of their greeting cards. The cute little bears even starred in their own television series and movies. Between 1983 and 1987, the company sold over 40 million Care Bears. Although the Care Bears gradually faded in popularity throughout the ’90s, they relaunched in 2002 and 2007.

3. Mr. Potato Head

An inventor from Brooklyn named George Lerner came up with the idea for this iconic toy in 1949. His vision had been to make a toy that kids could design themselves. When Mr. Potato Head first came out, kids poked eyes, noses, ears, and lips into an actual potato or other vegetables. He eventually sold his idea to a cereal company.

In 1951, a toy company called Hassenfeld Brothers bought the rights to Mr. Potato Head. In 1953, this toy company changed its name to Hasbro. That same year, they created Mrs. Potato Head along with their two children, Yam and Spud. In 1964, due to safety concerns, Hasbro began making rigid plastic bodies and larger parts. Thanks in part to being featured in the Toy Story movies, the Potato Heads remain a popular children’s toy today.

4. Etch A Sketch

A French electrical technician named Andre Cassagnes invented the Etch A Sketch in the late 1950s. Most people are familiar with this toy that features a red frame, gray screen, and two white knobs. Cassagnes was inspired to make the Etch A Sketch after making some pencil marks on a factory light switch plate and realized he could see the pencil marks on the other side of the plate. The idea for his toy helped him win a prize in a French invention competition.

Cassagnes eventually struck a deal with the Ohio Art Company. The Ohio-based toy company acquired the rights for $25,000. Since hitting stores in 1961, the Etch A Sketch has sold over 175 million units worldwide. People love the Etch A Sketch because it allows users to draw, shake, erase, and then start all over again. Even though it is a toy, many people have created fantastic art with the Etch A Sketch. Some have drawn famous figures with the toy, including the Mona Lisa, Elvis Presley, and the characters from The Wizard of Oz.

5. The Chatter Telephone

One of the best-selling toys throughout the 1960s and 70s was a colorful telephone that toddlers pull along with a string. The iconic toy was once called the “Talk Back Phone.” In 1962, the maker changed the name of the toy to The Chatter Telephone. The cute little toy contains a face, rotary dial, and wheels. When a child pulls the toy around by its string, it makes a chattering noise.

The toy maker’s goal was to invent something that would help toddlers learn to speak by mimicking their parents on the telephone. The original toy was made of wood. Through the years, the Chatter Telephone design went through many updates to make it look more modern. Ernest Thornell invented the toy in 1961. His daughter Tina inspired the creation of the toy. She would drag around a metal phone as she played. It is believed The Chatter Telephone helped save Fisher-Price in the 1990s when they failed to market toys for older children in the 1980s.

We explored these 5 iconic toys & how they came to be. Which ones did we miss?

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