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Top toys over the last five decades

PUBLISHED: 12:10 12 December 2018 | UPDATED: 16:11 12 December 2018

Sony Playstations have been among the most wanted in  1995, 2001, 2007,  2013 and 2018. Picture: Colin Finch

Sony Playstations have been among the most wanted in 1995, 2001, 2007, 2013 and 2018. Picture: Colin Finch

Archant © 2004

... a smart phone, iPad and Alexa. But what did we crave 48 years ago?

Skateboarding at Kesgrave's first mobile skatepark in 2017. The skateboard fisrt appeared on the Christmas wish list in 1972.  Picture: ALAN MARSHSkateboarding at Kesgrave's first mobile skatepark in 2017. The skateboard fisrt appeared on the Christmas wish list in 1972. Picture: ALAN MARSH

In 1970, children all over the UK were writing their letters to Father Christmas and trying to be extra specially good so that the merry (who wouldn’t be after all those glasses of sherry?) old gentleman would magic his way into the house and leave a present under the tree.

I was 15 in 1970 so the top toys passed me by although I was still up for a Beano annual.

But what was on the wish lists in a year when the half-crown ceased to be legal tender, the Prince of Wales joined the Royal Navy, Paul McCartney left The Beatles, the Conservative Party under the leadership of Edward Heath wins a General Election, the first page three girl appeared in The Sun, Aled Jones and Zoe Ball were born and the novelist EM Forster died... anyone starting to feel old?

In a splendid compilation of Christmas lists over the years from musicMagpie we find that the top five most desirable toys were the Nerfball (£1.25); Sindy doll (£3.99); Apollo Moon Rocket (£1.16), Risk board game (£1.73) and Talking Viewmaster (£4.62). The prices are quoted as of 1970 - albeit in new-fangled decimal sums rather than £sd.

The Space Hopper was top of the toys in 1971... and remains great fun. Here, Matthew Jollie attempts a Space Hopping world record on Wells Beach in 2013. Picture: Mat thew Usher.The Space Hopper was top of the toys in 1971... and remains great fun. Here, Matthew Jollie attempts a Space Hopping world record on Wells Beach in 2013. Picture: Mat thew Usher.

In today’s prices, the five items would cost £191.48. The Viewmaster, which came with little discs of slides, and the Sindy being the priciest.

The top-of-the-list toy often represented that year’s craze. Made of foam, the Nerfball was billed as the “world’s first official indoor ball”... and that, I’m afraid, is as exciting as it gets. You need to fast forward to 1971 to get the iconic Space Hopper, the Etch-a-Sketch and Clackers. There probably weren’t very many Etch-a-Sketch injuries over Christmas but there was potentially a risk to grandma on the Space Hopper.

There are a few years in which the sum total of the five top toys (at today’s prices) amounted to a breath-taking £1,000 or more and these are 2001 when the iPod Classic and the Sony Playstation 2 at over £400 each brought the total to £1011.19. Bob the Builder was a more affordable present that Christmas and 2015 when most of your money would have gone towards the Lego Star Wars Ultimate Millennium Falcon at £699.87. The most expensive year since 1970 was 2013 when the top five most-wanted came in at £1,215.92 (thanks to the XBox 1, Playstation 4 and the hoverboard).

A special mention to the most expensive year in the 70s, which was 1977, largely due to the Atari. In the austere 80s it was 1986, when the Power Wheels Jeep accounted for more than half of the £597.54 total. The frugal 90s featured the Playstation in 1995 - more than £500 in today’s money.

As for this year? Beware the iPhoneXR at £749... you might prefer the Playstation Classic, almost a snip at £89.99.

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