Christine A Howard

2018 Gift Guide: Today’s Top Toys Developed In The 1950s

The decade of the 1950s; a time when McDonald’s was founded, the first modern credit card was introduced, the first organ transplant took place, DNA was discovered, color television hit our screens, Princess Elizabeth became Queen, Disneyland opened and NASA was founded. But what monumental toys were created during this ten year period?  Only the best of the best.  If you are looking for the classic toys that your kids want, look no further than our 2018 Gift Guide.

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click through to one of the links and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission.  Thank you for the support!


There was no way this article could begin with any other toy then Barbie. The toy was developed by Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel. There’s not a lot to say apart from this groundbreaking toy was invented in 1959 and it has clearly gone from strength to strength ever since.

What little girl wouldn’t want the latest Christmas Barbie under the tree, right?  There isn’t a childhood memory that doesn’t include our favorite doll, Barbie.


Mr Potato Head

We all know Mr Potato Head from the popular Toy Story films but you wouldn’t believe how the toy first came on to the scene in 1952. Back then Mr Potato Head was an actual potato and the toys were various plastic features that kids would find in cereal boxes. They would simply stick these features into a potato. This idea was created by George Learner, an inventor who thought this would be the best way to make kids want to eat their veg!

With Toy Story 4 just around the corner, you can bet that this toy will be a big hit!  All of the classics are back now that Toy Story Land has opened at Disney too.  Just make sure that you don’t forget Mrs. Potato Head too!


This is another great invention story. In America, at Yale University, some students decided to play what we now call ‘frisbie’ with some pie plates. These plates were from a local baking store entitled ‘Frisbie Baking Co.’. In order to warn people that walked past so that they wouldn’t be hit, the students used to shout ‘frisbie’ and in 1955 the Frisbie was born.

If your family would like a great sport to take up, Frisbie Golf may just be for you!  There are many courses popping up in parks all over.  While you won’t want to take your classic Frisbie, the golf version is easy to find and relatively inexpensive.


Play-Doh first hit the shelves in stores in 1956 (however it was not in color until 1980). Unfortunately, the story of its existence is not as exciting as some of the other toys. A man named Joe McViker sent the mixture to schools because clay was too hard for the children to use, people picked up on the scope for it to be used as a toy and then the rest is history!

This is quite possibly the most overlooked toy these days, but it shouldn’t be.  There are so many learning applications for this toy, that every child should have loads of Play-Doh on hand.  At Christmas time you will find fun kits that will encourage pretend play that seems to be lacking these days.


While Scrabble was not invented in the 1950s, it was this time of life whereby the game really started to take off. The game’s big break came when it was played by the president of Macy’s, Jack Straus, while he was on holiday in 1952. When he got back from his holiday, he was shocked to find that the game was not carried in the store. He said everyone had to have one, so he placed a massive order. This caused the game to be sold to manufacturer Selchow and Righter because the original manufacturer could not meet the demand. Almost four million sets were sold in the second year, and the rest is history. You can play variations of the game like word scramble online today. It’s clear to see the impact Scrabble has had is massive.

This just happens to be personal favorite game.  I love educational games, and this really works on both vocabulary development and spelling.  Your family will have fun spending time reconnecting.  I always love the very creative word creations that tend to happen with this game.

Paint by Numbers Kits

Nowadays there are so many different paint or color by numbers kits available in stores.  They truly have become a classic toy. These take form in a mass of different ways, there are color boxes for kids to use when travelling or there are big solo boards for older children to paint with. However, paint by numbers kits first took off in 1952 when they hit the shelves in Macy’s.

These are an amazing way for your child to practice number recognition all the while having fun.  If you are looking for something to fill a stocking or a fun Hanukkah gift, look no further.   

Water Balloons

There is a really interesting story behind the development of the water balloon. In the year of 1950, an English inventor named Edgar Ellington was on a mission to create another invention – a waterproof sock. Whilst he was attempting to do so he got frustrated with the fact that water was leaking out of the side of the sock he was testing. He became so frustrated that he, in fact, threw the sock in question against the table. And guess what happened? It burst! Thus, instead of waterproof socks, Ellington was credited with the water balloon.

I am certain you have many wonderful memories that include water balloons.  What a great way to bring your childhood memories to your children?  These make excellent stocking stuffers or birthday gifts for your child’s friends.

2018 Gift Guide Today's top toys developed in the 1950s

So there you have it: some of the top toys that are developed in the 1950s. What a decade, right? From Barbie to water balloons, there is no denying that the toys that were created in the fifties have had a huge impact on our childhoods.  Let our 2018 Gift Guide help you find some amazing toys.  If you are looking for the perfect gift for your child this year, why not try a classic?


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