The Greatest Toys Since 1900, Part 1
7 min read
fairly easy
Looking back at the best toys since the turn of the 20th Century.
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Of the thousands of toys given to American girls and boys over time, what are the greatest? This writer, a lifelong toy collector and longtime toy columnist, decided to tackle that massive question. We'll start at the year 1900, we'll exclude board and card games (surely worthy of their own list), and we'll exclude athletic equipment. Not every selection may be your particular cup of pretend tea, but each one was chosen according to The Tom Morello Scale of "impact, influence, and awesomeness." Here are the Greatest Toys from 1900 to 1950.

Honorable Mentions: The Top and the Yo-Yo

The top is one of the oldest known toys, having existed for thousands of years. Variations of the top have been found in archaeological excavations. Different versions, like the dreidel, have significance to different cultures. It transcends the time period under examination, but it definitely bears mention.

Believe it or not, there's a Greek vase painting from 440 B.C. that shows a kid playing with a yo-yo. The modern version began manufacture in 1928 when Pedro Flores opened the Yo-yo Manufacturing Company in California.

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1901: The Lionel Electric Train

Wooden toy trains have been around almost as long as trains themselves, but Lionel opened up a new world of play with the first electric train set. The first set was intended to be a store-front display attention getter. The thought was that the moving cars would catch the eye and bring in shoppers. It did, but they wanted to buy the actual train. Though the company has changed hands many times over the decades, Lionel, LLC still sells trains, holding about 60 percent of the market on the popular O gauge (scale) trains and accessories.

1903: The Teddy Bear

Some historical figures could be called larger than life. Teddy Roosevelt was larger than several lives. Adventurer,…
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