The holiday season is a time for giving, and every year huge numbers of people end up giving the same thing. This year, high-tech gadgets, such as the Elmo Live Encore doll and the Nintendo Wii, are dominating the toy-buying scene. But in years past, a toy didn't have to be high tech to be in high demand.
Here are 14 of the most coveted holiday gifts of the 1960s and 1970s, along with their current retail price on Amazon.com. Wish you still had the one you tossed years ago? We also list how much an original in mint condition fetches on eBay. For a nostalgic sleigh ride through holidays past, click on the navigation bar to your right.
THE KEN DOLL
Current retail price on Amazon: $9.45
Price of an original on eBay: $100 to $300
Barbie’s first love came complete with blond flocked hair, red swim trunks, and other beach accessories. Surf’s up, dude. The doll stoked a vinyl doll craze that continues even today. Considering Ken was built to accompany Barbie to the beach, it's no wonder that he was such a popular toy during the cold holiday season of 1961.
THE DUNCAN BUTTERFLY
Current retail price on Amazon: $3 to $3.09
Price of an original on eBay: $30
Ah, the yo-yo. Versions of this popular toy have been around since 500 B.C., but most older baby-boomers remember this one fondly. The upgraded, acrobatic yo-yo became an unmistakable part of American youth culture in 1962, propelled by countless sales for children, eager to make their yo-yos "walk the dog" or "go 'round the world."
Retail price on Amazon: $32.30 (includes 3 mixes)
Price of an original on eBay: $60.00
By the end of 1963, the Easy-Bake Oven was pumping out treats made by little girls (and boys) all across the country. The product was so popular that it was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2006. That's pretty impressive when you consider the toy is little more than a glorified light bulb inside a box made of metal and plastic.
Retail price on Amazon: $59.99
Price of an original on eBay: NA/no collectible market
Originally adapted from a car racing game manufactured by Tudor, Electric Football swept the nation in 1964, along with The Beatles and the Dave Clark Five. Countless U.S. households were inundated on Christmas morning with the bone-rattling buzz of the vibrating football game and its haphazardly bumping players. Game on.
ROCK 'EM SOCK 'EM ROBOTS
Retail Price on Amazon: $21.84
Price of an original on eBay: $130.00
What other toy could receive endless pummeling and come back asking for more? An instant classic toy, hundreds of thousands of robotic heads were knocked to and fro during the holiday season of 1965. From Connecticut to California, adolescent boys were mesmerized. Until their younger sisters knocked their blocks off. Bummer.
THE SUPER BALL
Retail Price on Amazon: $3.00
Price of an original on eBay: $16.00
Who would have ever thought that bouncing something could be so much fun? Wham-O did! The company sold more than 7 million of these units during the 1965 holiday season. The Super Ball craze was so intense that the name of the toy inspired American Football League founder Lamar Hunt to coin the term “Super Bowl” for the AFL championship game. We all know the rest of the story.
Retail Price on Amazon: $4.99
Price of an original on eBay: $50.00
Originally conceived as an aerobics game for youngsters, Twister quickly became a party favorite with adults, teens, and college students. Contorting bodies, awkward positions, ending in laughter and piles of humans. Thirty six years later, aliens played Twister with humans in the movie Men In Black II.
Retail price on Amazon: $15.99 (10 car pack)
Price of an original on eBay: $10 to $349
Model cars have been popular nearly as long as real cars. But in 1969, Matchbox, which had long dominated the miniature car market, introduced souped-up, low- friction models that raced on special tracks. Hot Wheels sold faster than they could roll off the assembly line.
Retail Price: $9.98 (football)
Price of an original on eBay: $100.00
For decades boys would get in trouble with their parents for playing ball in the house. But during the 1970 holiday season, Nerf made it possible to play ball inside without breaking the ornaments on the tree. Constructed from a soft foam, Nerf balls were the craze of the early 70s. Indoor rough-housing would never be the same.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
Retail Price: $16.95 (for the game starter set)
Price of an original on eBay: N/A no market for them
Dungeons & Dragons was the spark that set off the role-playing game explosion. Everything from Magic: The Gathering to World of Warcraft has found inspiration from this original. It's no wonder the game was THE gift to buy during the 1973 holiday season.
Retail Price: 43 cents
Price of an original on eBay: $9.00
Its simple design used a thermo-chromic technology that changed the color of the ring in response to the ambient air temperature. The 1974 holiday season was bustling with shades of red and green on ring fingers everywhere.
THE PET ROCK
Retail Price: $16.99 (for the 3-piece set)
Price of an original on eBay: $40
Although the Pet Rock fad lasted only about six months, it made its creator Gary Dahl a millionaire. Imagine that: a rock, marketed as a dog-like companion. And it didn’t even require walking! The Pet Rock even came with a 32 page “training manual” for its customers to page through on Christmas morning. The Chia Pet had nothing on this fad.
Retail Price: $24.95
Price for an original on eBay: $150.00
Most gamers today probably aren't aware, but Atari was the first to create an interchangeable video game system. Prior to the 2600’s release, individual games required their own consoles, which in today's world would be like buying a new game system for every game. Atari solved the problem by building a small computer into the system. For the first time ever, all the user had to do was switch cartridges.
STAR WARS LEGACY ACTION FIGURES
Retail Price: $16.49
Price of an original on eBay: $10 to $40, some figures fetch as much as $6,000
Riding on the coattails of 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, action figures based on the film's characters were still a hot commodity during the 1978 holiday season. If only the same could be said for the "Star Wars Holiday Special (opens in new tab)," which also aired in 1978 and proved to be a legendary flop. Some of these original Star Wars figures are coveted collectibles.
More Great Gift Ideas
10 Stocking Stuffers Under $25
25 Gifts for $25 or Less
Give the Gift of Financial Well-Being
Gifts That Give Twice
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