5 Most Financially-Lucrative Toy Fads

Mack Mikelon

Many parents see the holiday season as the best time of the year to please or appease their kids, usually by purchasing some of the most popular toys on the market. Some children simply want to own the most popular toys so they can flaunt their parents' generosity at school, while other kids may genuinely want to play with these toys. There's a good chance that you'll recognize most of the following toys, all of which were a commodity during the holiday season.

These talking, furry, owl-like robotic toys debuted in 1998, with sales of 1.8 million units at about $35 each. The following year saw even more impressive sales of 14 million. From 1998 to 2000 40 million Furbies were sold. Furbies were in such demand that people could sell these toys to last-minute shoppers for three to five times their original value during the holiday season, as these toys were sure to be sold out in most retail stores come Christmastime.

Hasbro's Furbies were programmed to initially "speak" a made-up language, "Furbish," only to use English words as it "aged," creating the illusion that it was learning to speak as it grew older. This illusion was so convincing that the National Security Agency banned Furbies from its headquarters because NSA officials were still under the impression that Furbies could actually record and process information. Furbies are returning for the 2012 holiday season, but with a new modern look and its own App to translate Furbish. The famous toy will be going for around $60 this holiday season.

Tickle Me Elmo
Debuting in 1996, this toy was based on the popular Sesame Street character and would shake and giggle when squeezed. The toy sold out quickly during its first holiday season, as shoppers snapped up the million or so units that were shipped out to retailers. There were even retail-store stampedes of persistent parents who all wanted to grab the toy before it sold out. One of these in-store stampedes even led to a Walmart employee getting injured suffering a broken rib and a concussion. While the toy sold for about $29 in stores, some early buyers resold the toy for as much as $2,000.

The most recent version of the Tickle Me Elmo toy comes with three interactive tickle spots. This updated Tickle Me Elmo toy slaps its belly, falls forward, gets back up again and falls backwards as it laughs. The latest version of the Tickle Me Elmo toy costs about $150 on Amazon.

Bandai's Tamagotchis are handheld egg-shaped digital pets that first arrived on American store shelves in May 1997 at a retail price of about $10. The Tamagotchi was a virtual simulation of a pet on a tiny LCD screen. Tamagotchis required the user to play with, feed, train and groom their pets within the simulation. Bandai sold more than 3 million Tamagotchi units in its first three months and has sold more than 70 million units worldwide since it debuted in 1996 in Japan.

Cabbage Patch Kids
These dolls hit retail store shelves in 1982 and set an industry record at the time with over 2.5 million units sold in its first year. The toy was even featured on the cover of Newsweek in 1983. Much like with Tickle Me Elmo, a large crowd of desperate shoppers created a stampede for Cabbage Patch Kids, which led to one woman breaking her leg. By 1988, however, sales for the Cabbage Patch Kids had dropped and Coleco, the dolls' manufacturer, was $300 million in debt. Nevertheless, 65 million Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were sold between 1982 and 1990.

Bratz Dolls
Hitting store shelves in 2001, these fashion dolls for teenage girls offered an edgier, more urban alternative to Barbie dolls. Some parents accused the dolls of promoting unhealthy body images and dressing too provocatively. Despite the controversy, Bratz surpassed Barbie in 2006 to become the top-selling fashion doll line in the United States. Bratz dolls earned its manufacturer, MGA entertainment, over $1 billion in less than a decade. Mattel, Barbie's manufacturer, first sued MGA entertainment in 2004 for copyright infringement. Seven years later, a jury found that Mattel had actually stolen trade secrets from MGA. The court awarded MGA $310 million. Mattel appealed this decision in March 2012.

The Bottom Line
The above toys put smilies on the faces of millions of children on many a Christmas morning, while the manufaturers of these toys smiled all the way to the bank.

More From Investopedia

  • For some low-income workers, retirement is only a dream
    Associated Press

    For some low-income workers, retirement is only a dream

    The photo and his story went viral and thousands of people donated more than $384,000 for his retirement. With no money saved for retirement, home care worker Gwen Strowbridge, 71, of Deerfield, Florida, plans to stay on the job until she can't physically work anymore. Studies have found that about one-third of low wage workers like Strawbridge say they'll never be able to afford retirement.

  • Best Vanguard Funds for Your Retirement Savings

    Best Vanguard Funds for Your Retirement Savings

    Vanguard is the biggest fund company in the land, with more than $3 trillion in assets. So chances are high that many retirement savers have access to Vanguard funds in their 401(k) plans. But size is no guarantee of good results. Thirty-four Vanguard funds appear on a list of the 105 most popular mutual funds in employer-sponsored retirement savings plans. No other fund company comes close. Not surprisingly, of the 34 most popular Vanguard funds in retirement plans, 15 are index funds. And nine more are target-date portfolios—those set-it-and-forget-it funds that shift over time to more conservative allocations as the fund nears its target year. The remaining 10 are actively managed. We didn’t

  • Blighted lives: The true cost of diabetes
    BBC News

    Blighted lives: The true cost of diabetes

    Steven Woodman walks like an old man. He needs a stick to maintain his balance as he hobbles forward. Steven is only in his late 50s, but the loss of three toes on one foot means he's unsteady on his feet. It is type 2 diabetes that has led Steven to where he is now. More accurately, it's ignoring the warnings and advice around diabetes that has left him facing a life of disability. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, closely linked to lifestyle and weight gain, when he was still a young man. Steven, who lives in Shrewsbury, freely admits that, at the time, he ignored his GP's advice. "I was in denial. I never took it that seriously, so I carried on eating, going to the pub - doing things

  • Trump Surrogates Continue Their Apologist Tour to Election Day
    The Fiscal Times

    Trump Surrogates Continue Their Apologist Tour to Election Day

    It’s a thankless job being a Donald Trump surrogate these days. The job fell to campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus this weekend, and both twisted themselves in verbal knots casting the Trump campaign as something other than a foundering ship that’s headed to the bottom. After promising to deliver a “closing argument” in a speech on Saturday in Gettysburg, PA, Trump instead dedicated part of his remarks to promising to sue each of the dozen or so women who have accused him of sexual assault.

  • Coke and Pepsi are finally ditching sugar
    Business Insider

    Coke and Pepsi are finally ditching sugar

    This past week we learned that PepsiCo is finally turning against sugar. On Monday, PepsiCo announced that by 2025, two thirds of its drinks will have 100 calories or fewer from added sugar, per 12 oz serving. Currently, these types of sugary beverages make up 40% of PepsiCo's drinks.

  • America's biggest banks are closing hundreds of branches
    Business Insider

    America's biggest banks are closing hundreds of branches

    According to the 3Q earnings report, the bank has 21 million mobile banking active users and 18% of deposit transactions are completed through mobile devices. "That’s better for customers, it’s also better for our shareholders," said Donofrio.

    Bloomberg Video

    6th Party Plenum: What Is China's Agenda?

    Oct. 24 -- Liu Li-Gang, chief China economist at Citigroup, discusses China's 6th party plenum in Beijing and what could come out of it. He speaks to Bloomberg's Stephen Engle and Rishaad Salamat on "Bloomberg Markets."

  • Oil down as Iraq says no cuts; Wall St, Cushing draw limit loss

    Oil down as Iraq says no cuts; Wall St, Cushing draw limit loss

    Oil prices fell on Monday after Iraq said it wanted to be exempt from an OPEC production cut, though prices drew some support from a rally in Wall Street shares and a draw in crude inventories at the U.S. storage hub of Cushing, Oklahoma. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced plans last month to cut output to boost prices, but has not yet given details on how it will reach the target. Iraqi oil minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi said on Sunday the country, second largest producer in OPEC, wanted to be exempt from output curbs as it needed more money to fight Islamic State militants.

  • Former Walmart.com CEO explains how to nurture star employees
    Yahoo Finance

    Former Walmart.com CEO explains how to nurture star employees

    High-potential performers (or Hi-Pos) stand out due to their associative thinking skills—which help solve problems and drive innovation—their strong emotional awareness, and their incredible perseverance, according to Carter Cast, a clinical professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School and former CEO of Walmart.com, a division of Walmart (WMT). Putting a mirror up in front of people can help them recognize weaknesses, triggers, and gaps that may be impeding self-regulation and performance.

  • 3 Great Dividend Stocks That Could Double Their Payments -- The Motley Fool
    The Motley Fool

    3 Great Dividend Stocks That Could Double Their Payments -- The Motley Fool

    According to the latest economic data, average household income is down 2.4% from its peak in 1999. That implies that most Americans have not gotten a real raise in years. That said, while employers are stingy to their employees, companies are pretty generous to their investors. In fact, the following three companies are likely to double the income streams they pay investors over the next few years. A pipeline of income growth One of the reasons why refining giant Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX) launched its midstream MLP Phillips 66 Partners (NYSE:PSXP) was to give investors an opportunity to collect a rapidly growing cash flow stream. That is why, when the MLP went public in late 2013, it stated that

  • Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon, Warren Buffett agree on the No. 1 priority for business
    Yahoo Finance

    Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon, Warren Buffett agree on the No. 1 priority for business

    In recent weeks, we’ve heard Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon and Jeff Bezos talk about managing their businesses. At the Economic Club of Washington DC in September, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon discussed what eventually led to his ouster from Citigroup in 1998. JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in America.

  • World
    WSJ Live

    Islamic State Burns Sulfur Stocks Near Mosul

    On Saturday a plume of noxious smoke drifted over a base with U.S. troops involved in the Iraqi offensive to retake the city of Mosul. Islamic State militants had set fire to sulfur stocks at a factory south of Mosul on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

  • 527 South Koreans seek Note 7 payback from Samsung
    Associated Press

    527 South Koreans seek Note 7 payback from Samsung

    Hundreds of South Korean Galaxy Note 7 smartphone owners filed a lawsuit against Samsung Electronics on Monday over its handling of the fire-prone device. Attorney Peter Young-Yeel Ko, head of the Harvest Law Firm, said the 527 plaintiffs want Samsung to compensate them for the costs to visit shops to exchange their phones, for the hours they had to wait while transferring data and for psychological harm from using a hazardous product. The Galaxy Note 7 smartphone was recalled twice in an unprecedented consumer safety crisis.

  • Japan swings back to September trade surplus

    Japan swings back to September trade surplus

    Japan swung to a bigger-than-expected trade surplus in September, as tumbling imports offset lacklustre shipments overseas, official data showed Monday. The value of Japan's exports fell again, with vehicles and steel among the worst hit sectors, as a stronger yen clouds the country's trade picture. It also reversed a surprise trade deficit in August.

  • AT&T, Time Warner CEOs say mega-merger is all about speed and mobility

    AT&T, Time Warner CEOs say mega-merger is all about speed and mobility

    The companies do not compete anywhere, Stephenson said, adding mergers of this nature usually get done by making concessions to regulators. Stephenson said content and distribution are converging, and he argued that this deal is a natural evolution of the industry. Any innovation will be available to the entire marketplace, Stephenson added.

  • Chesapeake Energy Analysts Change Their Tune

    Chesapeake Energy Analysts Change Their Tune

    On Wednesday evening, Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) stock closed at $6.72. Shares dropped by more than 5% to $6.36 early Thursday morning as the company kicked off its first investor day presentation in two years. The downturn was very likely the result of the company’s forecast for 2016 and 2017. Production growth is estimated at flat to up 3% for 2016 and at down 5% to flat for 2017. And that comes at the cost of higher capital spending. We looked at Chesapeake’s presentation in some detail on Thursday. By the end of the day Thursday, Chesapeake stock had regained all its lost ground and added 2.8% besides to close at $6.91. But by the early afternoon Friday, shares traded down about

  • The $1.7 Trillion Oil Industry Isn’t Going Anywhere

    The $1.7 Trillion Oil Industry Isn’t Going Anywhere

    This week’s oil prices put the industry at a value of $1.7 trillion – almost three times larger than the $660 billion in revenues generated from all major raw metals and minerals combined. Figures compiled by the Visual Capitalist show that the sheer magnitude of international oil consumption will increase as countries leave coal behind and plan for the spread of natural gas and green energy. Oil producers extract 34 billion barrels of oil from the planet every year to provide the 94 million bpd the planet consumes to travel, build and illuminate.

  • Business
    Money Talks News

    9 Tips to Ensure You’ll Have Enough to Retire

    Life expectancy for women and men in 1970 was just short of 71 years, for example, so retirement funds did not have to see most people to age 90 or 100. Today, those of us approaching retirement are playing a very new game. Will Social Security be your primary source of income in retirement?

  • Business

    In insurance, Big Data could lower rates for optimistic tweeters

    This could lead to future insurance cover based on "sentiment analysis", in which Big Data and artificial intelligence make predictive models ever more accurate. Swiss Re says technological advances will cut the price of insurance protection and help individuals and firms make better decisions through programmes that offer advice and incentivise improvements in areas such as health and driving. Social media monitoring is one of several advances insurers are examining to improve the pricing of policies.

  • What to expect from Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow

    What to expect from Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow

    It’s going to be a busy week for Apple. Tomorrow (Oct. 25), the company will announce its fourth-quarter earnings for its fiscal year. Two days later, it’ll host an event to show off what many expect to be a refresh to its laptop and desktop computer lines. While the company may be ramping up for a big holiday season, with hopes of selling truckloads of its new iPhones and computers, tomorrow’s earnings call will reveal how sales fared over what has traditionally been Apple’s slowest period. In recent quarters, Apple has reported its first quarterly declines since it started selling the iPhone nearly a decade ago. Whether the company was able to reverse that decline in the fourth quarter—which

  • Business

    Australia's largest private trade delegation to visit China

    Australia's largest ever private trade delegation is due to arrive in China on Sunday, just over a week after 18 employees from Australian gaming giant Crown Resorts Ltd were detained there for alleged gambling crimes. More than 200 delegates, including Queensland state ministers, agricultural producers and exporters will be on the visit to Shanghai aimed at building on the A$160 billion ($120 billion) trade relationship between Australia and China. "We have brought together businesses from banks to exporters and freight companies," Ben Lyons, the group's leader, said in a statement.

  • Dominos CEO: We got ahead of the curve in technology
    Yahoo Finance

    Dominos CEO: We got ahead of the curve in technology

    Other than the company’s new recipe rolled out in 2010, in one word: technology. “We got into it early,” said CEO Patrick Doyle. Doyle said a big part of the company’s success is “early investment.” And he added the company hasn’t stopped.

  • Technology
    Associated Press

    Attacks on the internet keep getting bigger and nastier

    Manchester, New Hampshire-based Dyn Inc. said its server infrastructure was hit by distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks. The attack temporarily blocked some access to popular websites from across America and Europe such as Twitter, Netflix and PayPal. Members of a shadowy hacker group that calls itself New World Hackers claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter, though that claim could not be verified.

  • Oil prices fall as Iraq resists joining output cut

    Oil prices fall as Iraq resists joining output cut

    Oil prices fell on Monday as Iraq said it wanted to be exempt from an OPEC deal to cut production, though losses were capped by Iran saying it would encourage other members to join an output freeze. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 37 cents at $50.48. Falah al-Amiri, head of Iraqi state oil marketer SOMO, added that Iraq's market share had been compromised by the wars it has fought since the 1980s.

  • GM

    GM to add SUV production line at China JV in 2017: Xinhua

    General Motors Co plans to launch a new SUV production line at its joint venture factory in the Chinese central city of Wuhan during the first half of 2017, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday, citing company sources. SAIC General Motors (SGM), a joint venture between China's SAIC and General Motors, started operations at the Wuhan plant last year. The new production line will be able to produce 360,000 vehicles a year, bringing the combined capacity to 600,000, Xinhua said.