Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Toy Time: What makes a toy memorable?

updated 11:45 AM EST, Mon December 9, 2013
Christopher Byrne's "Toy Time" is a crowdsourced collection of the most beloved toys of the 20th century. The book examines the timeless appeal of toys like Colorforms, which allowed children to create scenes using vinyl stickers that could be moved around. "The appeal of Colorforms was that they allowed any kid to become an artist," Byrne says in the book. They were also among the first toys to be advertised on television, spurring demand. Christopher Byrne's "Toy Time" is a crowdsourced collection of the most beloved toys of the 20th century. The book examines the timeless appeal of toys like Colorforms, which allowed children to create scenes using vinyl stickers that could be moved around. "The appeal of Colorforms was that they allowed any kid to become an artist," Byrne says in the book. They were also among the first toys to be advertised on television, spurring demand.
HIDE CAPTION
Toy Time: Beloved toys of the 20th century
View Master
Spirograph
Rubik's Cube
Barbie
Big Wheel
Fashion Plates
Toy Time
Rubik's Cube
Hungry Hungry Hippos
POGs
Rainbow Brite
Trolls
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New book "Toy Time" looks back at memorable toys of the 20th century
  • The crowd-sourced list includes toys such as View-Master and Nok Hockey
  • More recent selections include POGS and Trolls

Editor's note: What's your favorite childhood toy? Share your memories in the comments or on CNN Living's Facebook page.

(CNN) -- Most of us have a favorite toy from childhood that still has the power to make us smile, whether it's a Barbie doll, a Micro Machine or the board game Operation.

What makes them memorable is the subject of a new book, "Toy Time! From Hula Hoops to He-Man to Hungry Hungry Hippos," a collection of some of the most beloved toys of the 20th century.

Author Christopher Byrne crowd-sourced the compilation from readers of the popular website TimetoPlayMag.com and came up with more than 100 beloved toys. The book includes not just the most popular choices, such as Big Wheels and the Etch a Sketch, but also those that prompted the most compelling memories, serving as "a catalyst for the imagination," Byrne said.

Kids on devices: What's this old thing?
Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

Most of our favorite toys came into our lives when we were developing our identity and figuring out the world, he said. Some, like the rampaging dinosaur King Zor (1962), have faded from the cultural landscape, while others, like View-Master and Nok Hockey (which both hit the mass market in the 1940s), have been passed down through generations.

The toys that stick with us are those that allowed us to explore new worlds and create experiences.

"Ultimately, play is something that happens in the imagination," said Byrne, content director of TimetoPlayMag.com. "What makes each Barbie doll unique is how a little girl creates and projects her sense of self and her fantasies onto that piece of plastic."

Other toys create strong memories simply because of their nostalgic appeal.

"Some, just by looking at them, reflect the design sensibility of the time, becoming almost works of art," he said. "We identify with them in the cultural context of their time."

So, how can you tell if a toy will be a hit for your child? When it comes to gift-giving for children, the most important rule of thumb is to know who you're shopping for, Byrne said.

"The hot toys are only hot if they're hot for your child," he said. "The toys that become memorable are the ones that connect with our interests."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Living reflects your life. From advice for modern parents to the freshest news in food: It's all here.
updated 5:11 PM EDT, Mon March 10, 2014
Some classrooms are building in time for students to work on passion projects that teach students how to learn from failure.
updated 11:32 PM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
So many parents dread the teenage years -- the eye rolling, door slamming and lack of conversation. But there are ways to get a teen to open up.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
Shelves full of knickknacks, chairs piled atop tables, dusty toys dangling from the ceiling: That's enough for some to flee a flea market.
updated 11:37 AM EDT, Tue April 1, 2014
When Sarah Fox's boyfriend died, she was devastated just as a wife would have been. But others didn't always see her pain the same way.
Willow, a 12-year-old Labrador retriever, has watched over the vines at Long Island's Bedell Cellars since she was 10 weeks old.
updated 4:38 PM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
martha stewart wedding costs
Weddings are a glorious celebration of the union of two souls. They're also a lightning rod for family drama.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT