When you think of sell-out Christmas toys, the film Jingle All the Way might come to mind, where Arnie and Sinbad’s characters fight their way through the Christmas chaos to buy their children the ever-coveted, elusive TURBO-MAN. Of course many might think the film greatly hyperbolises real life, every now and again we do see a toy like Turbo-Man take centre stage at Christmas and the race to get the last one is just as epic. Remember any of these?
1995: Beanie Babies
Beanie Babies are a collection of stuffed animals created by Ty Warner Inc that were popular throughout the 90s. In many shops across the US, there was such a demand for the toy that stores would offer a separate recorded ‘Beanie Baby hotline’ for customers calling to see which animals were in stock and which ones were due to arrive.
Beanie Babies were especially popular due to a limited supply of certain animals and, even to this day, some of the originals are still incredibly valuable with the light blue royal elephant, for example, said to be worth around $1,500 with its original tag.
1996: Tickle Me Elmo
This one was such a hit in the United States that all of the stock sold out around Black Friday that year with some scalpers reportedly selling the doll for $10,000 when it was originally ticketed for just $29.99. Amongst the chaos, two women in New York were arrested after fighting over a shop’s last doll, whilst others ran after delivery trucks to try to get the product before it even hit the shelves.
Additionally, there were news stories of people being trampled in an effort to secure the last Elmo, as well as being seriously injured in the shopping frenzy. By the end of December that year, the entire 1 million Tickle Me Elmo dolls had been sold.
Tamagotchi, as most 90s kids might remember, was a handheld digital pet that secured to your keyring that simulates a real life pet. The aim was to raise the creature from the time it hatched all the way until it beame an adult by giving it food, love, and play. The more attention you gave it, the more it prospered.
Most kids in the 90s had one of these and, as a result, many schools banned them, as they became quite the distraction in class. For those that had one and now wish their own children could experience te fun, you’re in luck! This year, they’re back on the market and better than ever, so you can pick one up for just £9.99!
At Christmas 1998, the Furby was the top selling Christmas toy with over 40 million sold since its initial production. The weird looking owl-like robotic creature spoke what they called ‘Furbish’ and would gradually use English words over time, simulating the process of learning English. Retailed at $35 each, the doll began to sell out over the festive period and was going for hundreds by the time it got closer to Christmas.
That wasn’t the end of Furbies though, as it came back with a ‘Boom’ in 2013 (quite literally, as it was called ‘the Furby Boom’) with plenty of new features and it was one of the more popular toys that Christmas, as well. On the market today, you can now buy a Furby Connect, which is a super upgraded version that even connects to a mobile device / app.
2000: The Razor Scooter
The Razor Scooter that we still see today was launched back in 2000 where 5 million were sold in the first six months of its release alone. The scooter is made out of a compact aluminum frame with a brake located on the back wheel and is foldable. To this day, the Razor scooter remains immensely popular and the design remains much the same as it was when it was first released.
Here in the UK, the Mini Micro is especially popular amongst the younger crowd, especially as you can use it from as young as 1 year old and it grows with your child up until they are about 5 years old. You really get great use for your money! Of course the Razor is still the most popular option, however, for the older crowd and, here in London especially, it is not uncommon to see a gentleman in a suit on a Razor scooter trying to keep up with his toddler whizzing down the road on a Mini Micro!
2006: Playstation 3
The Playstation 3 was so popular that upon its release all of the units were sold within 24 hours. Additionally, there were quite a few counts of violence on account of the new gaming console with one customer being shot, a group of campers being robbed at gunpoint, as well as a driveby shooting (using BB-guns) by people hoping to secure the unit. Additionally, a fight broke out where 60 campers fought over 10 units. You can only imagine how that went down.
Of course Playstation has since evolved with technology with the newest model now being the PS4 Pro with talk of the PS5 soon being released, but are still eagerly awaiting a release date.
2009: Zhu Zhu Pets
Another Christmas sell-out was the infamous Zhu Zhu Pet, which were modeled after pet hamsters with the option to buy separate accessories, such as hamster balls, wheels and tunnels. Originally marked at just $9, in the last minute shopping craze, buyers were shelling out over $60 for the small toy due to shortages.
Today’s market sees a new kind of Zhu Zhu pet available for purchase, which feature much more vibrant and colourful but perhaps less realistic looking hamsters in comparison to the 2009 model. A great option for a stocking stuffer, anyway!
2012: Wii U
The Wii U was released in time for Christmas 2012 and was the first Nintendo product to use HD technology. It sold all 400,000 of its consoles in the US and another 40,000 in the UK within the first week of being released onto the market.
Wii U continued to be quite popular after its initial release in 2012, however, sales of the console dramatically slowed in time and, as of January 2017, the production of the console has stopped to make room for the newest Nintendo product – the Nintendo Switch, which we predict will be one of the hot items this Christmas 2017.
2014: Elsa Doll
The popular Disney film, Frozen, came out in 2013 and became incredibly popular amongst both children and adults over the coming year. During Christmas 2014, one of the hit toys was, of course, an Elsa doll, which sang and lit up, and had 15 different phrases from the film. In the lead up to Christmas, parents scrambled to get the must-have item with many paying well over the retail value in order to secure one for their child.
We predict that something similar will again be popular when the Frozen 2 makes its way to theatres on 27 November, 2019.
Hatchimals topped the list as the most popular Christmas toy for 2016 with most high street shops running out of stock in the lead up to Christmas. The innovative new toy saw a small robotic bird hatching its way out of an egg and the more you interacted with it, the more it learned and grew. Again, scalpers sold the doll for well over its asking price – sometimes as high as three times the retail value of $60 – as stock was not replenished until the end of January or February in most places here in the UK.
Hoping to have a repeat of last year’s craze, Hatchimals have released a new version called the Hatchimals Surprise, which features two loveable and colourful Hatchimal creatures. Whilst we think this one should be pretty popular, there are some other toys on the market this year that will most certainly take centre stage.
Fast forward to 2017 and you now may be wondering what the top toy is this year. Analysing the top toys predicted by major retailers, such as Argos, John Lewis & Partners, Toys ‘R Us and Smyth’s Toys, it looks as though the Luvabella Doll will be this year’s ‘Turbo-Man’ with most shops already out of stock here at the end of October. Whilst it’s quite likely that this stock will be replenished in time for Christmas, as it’s still early days til Christmas, some customers have already resorted to paying 50% greater than the retail price on Amazon for the blonde, brunette, and dark brown haired versions in order to secure a doll before the price increases further.
So, if you want to check out the top selling toys for Christmas 2017 and get an early start so as to avoid any ‘Turbo-Man’ kind of incidents, have a look at our guide to the Top Christmas Toys of 2017.