The Top 20 Childhood Toys

What did you play with the most as a kid? It’s probably on this list – and still affordable. Check out your favorite toys and the commercials that made them must-haves.

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What was your favorite toy from childhood?

If a Nintendo Entertainment System doesn’t count, I’d have to say LEGO or Lincoln Logs. I’d probably still play with them today if I had them around. And that’s just the kind of toy the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis was looking for when they chose the 100 most iconic toys of the past century – toys with memories, stories, and intergenerational appeal.

Here’s the Top 20, as chosen by museum visitors and fans. We added a few tidbits ourselves – like when they first became widely available (according to Wikipedia) and how much they cost today. For bonus nostalgia, click the toys’ names to watch their classic TV commercials.

It’s worth noting there’s nothing more recent than 1984 at the top of the list, although new versions of many are still made today. And collector’s editions aside, they’re all pretty affordable today as well…

1. G.I. Joe

  • First widely available: 1964
  • Cost: From $4

2. Transformers

  • First widely available: 1984
  • Cost: From $2.50

3. LEGO Toys

  • First widely available: 1947
  • Cost: From 1 cent

4. Barbie

  • First widely available: 1959
  • Cost: From $9

5. View-Master

  • First widely available: 1966
  • Cost: From $7

6. Bicycle

  • First widely available: 19th century
  • Cost: From $40

7. Cabbage Patch Kids

  • First widely available: 1982
  • Cost: From $14

8. Crayons

  • First widely available: Crayola in 1903, but centuries ago
  • Cost: From $1.50

9. Play-Doh

  • First widely available: 1955
  • Cost: From 70 cents


  • First widely available: 1934
  • Cost: From $10

11. Raggedy Ann

  • First widely available: 1918
  • Cost: From $8

12. Spirograph

  • First widely available: 1965
  • Cost: From $15

13. Etch A Sketch

  • First widely available: 1960
  • Cost: From $9

14. Little Golden Books

  • First widely available: 1942
  • Cost: From $4

 15. Hot Wheels

  • First widely available: 1968
  • Cost: From $5

 16. Lincoln Logs

  • First widely available: 1918
  • Cost: From $14

 17. Candy Land

  • First widely available: 1949
  • Cost: From $11

 18. Roller skates

  • First widely available: 1863
  • Cost: From $15

 19. Silly Putty

  • First widely available: 1949
  • Cost: From $3.50

 20. Mr. Potato Head

  • First widely available: 1952
  • Cost: From $9

What was your favorite toy growing up? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.

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  • Y2KJillian

    My original Mr. Potato Head came from grandpa when I had the measles. It required the sacrifice of a real live potato, which became incredibly horrible in a few days. The new, plastic bodies are a poor substitute for the demonstration of what happens to a “person” if they poke holes in themselves and get “old.” You could put the accessories anywhere you wanted in a real potato, not in pre-punched holes. The newer ones are a travesty.
    AND–you forgot COOTIES. Kind of like potato-head, you could chase your sister around the house with them and she would run screaming so she wouldn’t “catch” them, that is, let them touch her–whatever on earth they were actually supposed to be.

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