Holiday toy hits of years past

Spin Master’s Bakugan game is a strong seller this year, but the fad doesn’t compare to these toy crazes of the past:

-1983: Cabbage Patch Kids. Capitalizing on “one-of-a-kind” appeal, 4Kids Entertainment Inc.’s Cabbage Patch Kids with vinyl faces and yarn hair struck a chord, and by the end of 1983 millions had sold and the doll had made the cover of Newsweek. Cabbage Patch Kids are now made by Jakks Pacific Inc.

-1995: Beanie Babies. Plush dolls in a variety of animal forms with heart-shaped name tags from Ty Inc. began appearing in 1994, starting a fad that went national the next year and made the company hundreds of millions of dollars. Prices for some Beanie Babies soared into the thousands of dollars.

-1996: Tickle Me Elmo! With the help of cameo appearances on Rosie O’Donnell’s TV show, Tyco’s first Elmo sensation, a doll that giggled when you tickled its stomach sold out before the holidays. Mattel Inc. bought Tyco and introduced other versions under the Fisher Price label including TMX Elmo and this year’s Elmo Live but never replicated the original phenomenon.

-1998: Furby. Tiger Electronics, a division of Hasbro Inc., created this furry robotic holiday hit, which was supposed to sell for about $30. Because it was in short supply, Furby went for $200 or more on the Internet.

-1999: Pokemon. Expansions on a Nintendo Co. video game depicting tiny “pocket monsters,” Pokemon figures, games and trading cards became a craze, spawning movies and TV series. Though the trading cards sold for $3 a pack in 1999, rare ones went for as much as $200.

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