The Most Popular Children’s Christmas Toy Ever!

Santa carrying a sack full of presents
  • Bikes appeared on more letters to Santa between 1960 and 2000 than any other toy
  • Scalextric, Lego, Barbies and roller skates complete the top five most commonly requested retro Christmas gifts of all time

Pink girl's bicycle

The humble bicycle is the most popular retro Christmas gift of years gone by, having appeared on more letters to Santa between the 1960s and 2000s than any other type of toy.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults born between 1960 and 2000, carried out by One4all, the multi-store Post Office gift card, found that the classic bicycle prevailed through four decades of toy trends and fads – with almost 1 in 4 (22%) UK adults who grew up between 1960s to 1990s having asked Santa for a bike.

Cult British motor racing system, Scalextric, followed in second place, closely followed by the ultimate construction toy, Lego. Meanwhile, Barbies and roller-skates followed in fourth and fifth place.

Wholesome family favourites which encouraged group play, such as Monopoly and footballs, were the sixth and seventh most requested retro toys from this period. Crafty favourite, Etch-A-Sketch, and popular soldier franchise, Action Man, followed in eighth and ninth place. Meccano’s mechanical construction sets completed the list of the top 10 toys kids of the 90s through to the 2000s asked Santa for.

Close up of Monopoly board game

While these toys stood the test of time, each decade also saw its own trends emerging. The lists kids sent to Santa in the 1960s were dominated by Scalextric and Barbie dolls, while the 70s saw Action Man and Etch-a-Sketch rise to popularity. Care Bears, My Little Ponies and iced-drink maker Mr. Frosty were the most popular toys of the 80s.

The 90s saw a shift into technology and gadget-based gifts, with the Nintendo Game Boy, Tamagotchis and Furbies all proving big winners amongst kids of the time.

The research does, however, suggest times are changing, with 38% of modern parents claiming their children have asked Santa for money and gift cards this year.

The Top 10 Retro Toys of Christmases Past

  1. Bike
  2. Scalextric
  3. Lego
  4. Barbies
  5. Roller skates
  6. Monopoly
  7. A football
  8. Etch a Sketch
  9. Action Man
  10.  Meccano

Football at a football stadium

The One4all Gift Card is the UK’s leading multi-store gift card, which can be loaded with anything from £10 – £400. The One4all Gift Card can be spent in more than 55,000 outlets across the UK and is available to buy from Post Offices nationwide and online at

Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!