Presents of Christmas Past: Where are they now?
2 min read | Consumer $ense Dream Team
Once upon a Christmas morning Beanie Babies, Easy Bake Ovens and UNO were all highly coveted Christmas presents at one point in history. In this Consumer $ense special, we’re giving you a blast from the past as we take a look at different popular presents of Christmas past. How much did they cost and how much are they worth now? Are these products even still around or relevant? To start off, we’re taking it back to 1963 with our first gift that is sure to jog a memory or two.
Easy Bake Oven
First introduced in November of 1963, the Easy Bake Oven was launched just in time to snag the most popular Christmas present of the year award and sold over 500,000 in the first year. The OG oven was a bright teal oven that could heat up to 350 degrees. Since then, it has come a long way even altering colors to appeal to both girls and boys with a love for all things baking. This oven was not cheap in 1963 at a whopping $15.95, equivalent to $127 today. Luckily, the oven is now only $45 and no longer has a light bulb, but is electric!
In 1983 H Ty Warner created “Beanie Baby” the first of the plushies being himalayan cats. He wanted to make a toy that was affordable under $5 that kids could buy, because there were no products in that category covering that need. In 1994, the “original nine” beanie babies were released. Though they were cheap, they were only available at specialty gift stores and not at any department stores, being somewhat exclusive. Beanie Babies were on everybody’s Christmas list in December of 1995. Why the appeal? One technique Beanie Baby used was a term called “retirement”. Beanie Babies were often suddenly “retired,” making people go crazy to find the last available beanie babies. Collectors never never knew when it would suddenly become unavailable. Today you can still get a beanie baby for around $5, but some of the “retired” and most sought after Beanie Babies go for over $10,000!
The Rainbow Loom, a toy that simplified the weaving of small rubber bands to make rings and bracelets, was invented by Cheong Choon Ng in 2010. It was first sold at Michaels for around $20 with assorted rainbow-colored bands sold separately. It became very popular and was named Toy of the Year in 2014. In 2020, the brand has expanded to include many add-ons for the Rainbow Loom including emoji-themed charms, aptly called Loomojis, and glow-in-the-dark bands. The price of the Rainbow Loom has decreased over time and is now being sold for just $10 on the Rainbow Loom website.
UNO is a very popular card game, similar to Crazy 8s, that was introduced in 1971. The goal of the game is to be the first person to get rid of all of your cards, but you have to shout “UNO” when you are down to your final card. UNO was the most popular Christmas toy in 1972, and it has been a household favorite ever since. UNO is still on the market today, and it is the perfect card game for the whole family because the rules are simple for children to understand. Since the original UNO was introduced, there are now UNO theme packs and digital versions of the game. There is also a sequel version called DOS that is slightly more challenging. The original UNO card game retails anywhere between $3-$5 depending on the seller.
Heelys first launched right before the 2001 holiday shopping season- perfect timing! This skater-style sneaker featured a hidden wheel in the heel of the shoe for kids to roll as if they are on a skateboard. After their initial launch, Heelys gained even more exposure when Usher wore them in his music video for a song on the album 8701, and continued to gain popularity until 2008- their peak year. Unfortunately, safety concerns forced schools to ban them and they declined in popularity. Nevertheless, to this day the beloved childhood thrill is still making a whopping $5 million a year with lots of new styles for around $60 a pair, not too far off from their original price of $50- $100.
Lite Brite was first created in 1967 and was a flat screen, rather than the cube model most consumers are familiar with. Little plastic pegs of different colors are poked into the Lite Brite design templates to illuminate the design with a lightbulb. The templates of basic items such as boats, flags, ducks, and flowers transformed into licensed characters such as SpongeBob, My Little Pony and even Darth Vader. Back then, this toy retailed for just $6.95. Today, they typically range from $15- $20. In 2011, Lite Brite was even added to Time Magazine’s list of All-Time 100 Greatest Toys. If you wanted to get your hands on an OG Lite Brite, they sell on Ebay for around $50. Today, the Lite Brite Ultimate Classic can be found at Target for just $12.89. There is also a downloadable app for users to enjoy the fun on the go.
Here are a few more popular Christmas presents from our past that may spark some fun memories: Pogo sticks, Tamagotchi, Nintendo Gameboy, Simon, Cabbage Patch Kids, Talkboy, Tickle Me Elmo, and Furby.
Let us know in the comments, what was your favorite present of Christmas past?
From all of us at Consumer $ense, Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
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