Different kinds of stuffed toys have been popular for many years. One of the reasons for their popularity is their versatility, as they can be used not just for playing but also for sleeping since some kids would often want to hug a stuffed toy to feel safe and comfortable while they sleep. Stuffed toys have evolved as years passed, although there are some classics that are still popular today. To know more, here is a list of the most popular retro stuffed toys.
Teddy Ruxpin is an animatronic stuffed toy, which means that it has parts that move on their own with the use of mechanical parts and batteries. For Teddy Ruxpin, his eyes and mouth are the body parts that move, although he also has a built-in speaker that is connected to a tape cassette player in its back. The cassette player and speakers would then play audio clips that feature Ruxpin telling fictional stories.
Teddy Ruxpin was created by a toy designer named Ken Forsse and was built by the employees at his company, Alchemy II, Inc. The first mass-produced version was manufactured by Worlds of Wonder, which was then released in 1985. From 1985 to 1986, Teddy Ruxpin was the best-selling toy in the world. Unfortunately, by the 1990s, the popularity of Teddy Ruxpin decreased, even though it was already Hasbro, one of the biggest toy companies in the world, who was manufacturing and marketing the toy. Fortunately, Teddy Ruxpin is still available for purchase as of 2023, although it is manufactured by another toy company called Wicked Cool Toys.
Beanie Babies are a line of stuffed toys that were introduced in 1993 and were created by a businessman named H. Ty Warner, who also served as the founder of the stuffed toys’ manufacturer, Ty Inc. The reason why the toys are called “Beanie Babies” is because each of them is stuffed with small plastic pellets that are often referred to as “beans.” So, instead of the conventional cotton stuffing used in most stuffed toys, Beanie Babies have plastic pellet stuffing.
Beanie Babies were introduced at the 1993 World Toy Fair in New York City. One year later, manufacturing for the stuffed toys began, although Ty Inc. only produced small quantities of Beanie Babies that were sold in specialty shops and small toy stores. Although the sales were slow at first, H. Ty Warner purposefully made the production of the toys limited to eventually create high demand due to low supply. Warner’s strategy worked by the mid-1990s, and collecting Beanie Babies became a fad. Ty Inc decided to stop the production of Beanie Babies in December 1999, but due to popular demand, the company revived the brand just one year later with the release of a Beanie Baby named “The Beginning.”
While the fad of collecting Beanie Babies that have high resale value is gone, there are still plenty of Beanie Babies that are available today. Here are three Beanie Babies that you can check out online:
Care Bears are stuffed teddy bears that originally appeared in greeting cards produced by American Greetings. These Care Bears were designed and painted by artist Elena Kucharik, who was working for American Greetings when she created the bears in 1981. Because of how popular the Care Bears characters are, American Greetings formed a partnership with toy company Kenner and board game company Parker Brothers to produce stuffed toys based on the Care Bears.
The Care Bears stuffed toy line was officially launched in 1983, and it became one of the best-selling toys in the 1980s. Today, Care Bears are still quite popular, although the toy line already experienced a few relaunches to make it look new and fresh for different generations of kids.
Take a look at these three Care Bears stuffed toys if you want to get one as a gift or as part of your collection:
Tickle Me Elmo
Tickle Me Elmo is a plush toy that was developed by Tyco Toys and is based on a Muppet (puppet characters made by renowned puppeteer Jim Henson) character named Elmo, who mostly appeared on the popular TV show Sesame Street. Tickle Me Elmo has an electric feature where Elmo would shake, vibrate, and talk whenever you squeeze or tickle him.
Tickle Me Elmo was first released in 1996 and quickly became a fad during the Christmas season of that year. Due to Tyco Toys not being able to produce a lot of Tickle Me Elmo toys in time for the holidays, Tickle Me Elmo was re-sold by resellers or scalpers at the end of 1996 for up to $1500. Eventually, Tyco Toys replenished the stocks of the toy, and its resale value plummeted by the middle of 1997. The current version of Tickle Me Elmo is produced by Playskool, a subsidiary of Hasbro.
Pillow Pets are stuffed toys that are designed to transform into decorative pillows thanks to a set of Velcro straps sewn onto the exterior of the toys. The Pillow Pets stuffed toys are made from chenille, a type of yarn that has a name derived from the French word for “caterpillar” and has a furry texture. Pillow Pets were invented by a woman named Jennifer Telfer, who also sold the first batch of stuffed toys independently in 2003.
Jennifer Telfer created the idea for Pillow Pets when she saw one of her son’s favorite stuffed toys already flattened out because the boy was sleeping with it too often. So, Telfer designed a stuffed toy that can be transformed into a pillow for better comfort while also being more resilient to flattening. Telfer, with the help of her husband, Clint, would then set up a meeting with a plush manufacturer in order for them to produce more Pillow Pets that can then be sold worldwide. Through the deal, Telfer and her husband would form their own company called CJ Products. As of 2023, CJ Products is still marketing and producing Pillow Pets toys.
Check out these three Pillow Pets that can be great gifts for holidays or birthdays:
The most recent toy line in this list is ZhuZhu Pets. This toy line, which is also known as Go Go Pets in the UK, is composed of robotic hamster toys that were first released in 2009 by toy company Cepia LLC. The toy line was conceptualized by Russ Horsnby, a toy designer who also served as the founder of Cepia LLC. The name of the toys is derived from the Mandarin word “zhu zhu,” which is translated to “little pig” in English. During the creation of ZhuZhu Pets, Cepia LLC only had 16 employees in its US office, while the China office had 30 employees.
When ZhuZhu Pets became a craze in the holiday season of 2009, Cepia LLC quickly became one of the most successful toy companies in the late 2000s. However, Cepia LLC didn’t really expect the demand for the toys, so they only sold limited quantities in 2009. The scarcity of ZhuZhu Pets led to the toys having a high resale value from 2009 up to the early 2010s. The toy line was discontinued in 2013 but was rebooted in 2017 with a new look.
Check out these three ZhuZhu Pets products if you are planning on adding one to your toy collection:
- ZhuZhu Pets Merritt Furry Hamster Toy
- ZhuZhu Pets Car & Trailer Set
- ZhuZhu Pets Mr. Squiggles Furry Hamster Toy
These are just some of the best retro stuffed toys from the past decades. Luckily, the stuffed toys that we mentioned above are still available for you to buy. So, if you are feeling nostalgic and want to get one of the stuffed toys on the list that you enjoyed when you were a child, you will still be able to get it.