Britain’s Biggest Toy Store is celebrating its 25th anniversary – after selling more than 2.5 billion toys to over 300 million customers.
The first five Toys R Us stores were launched in September 1985, and the chain now has 75 stores across the UK, and a website which has been trading since 1996.
For the twenty something’s it will seem like only yesterday when they set foot in a Toys ‘R’ Us store for the first time becoming Britain’s first Toys ‘R’ Us kids.
And although Geoffrey the Giraffe may not have aged a bit, these Toys ‘R’ Us’ Kids have become adults and their children have become the next generation of Toys ‘R’ Us kids.
The toy giant has witnessed a shift in the toys children want to buy – two decades ago children were nagging their parents for football stickers, Sylvanian Families and Transformers Robots.
But in recent years some of the biggest sellers have been high tech toys such as Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.
One thing which has remained consistent over the years is the impact and influence of television programmes and movies.
Most recently Toy Story 3 launched in UK cinemas, and insiders speculate sales for the movie’s merchandise will be massive this Christmas.
Indeed, the original Pixar movie catapulted character Buzz Light-year to toy-stardom some 14 years ago, making it ones of the biggest sellers of 1996.
But other movies and TV merchandise loved by kids over the years includes In the Night Garden, High School Musical, Bob the Builder, Batman and Ghostbusters.
Mike Coogan, Marketing Director for Toys ‘R’ Us, said: “While technology is now more popular than ever before with children, customers who have been with us for the full 25 years will start to recognise some toys which are making a come back.
“Back in the eighties all the kids wanted to own the Transformers robots, and while they died out during the nineties they are hugely popular once again due to the 2007 movie which was based on the original series.
“And we are also seeing huge demand for soft toys and characters from popular TV shows – even more adult shows such as Who Wants To Be a Millionaire influences the games parents are buying for their children.”
Toys R Us stores have transformed massively over the last quarter century into family leisure and baby products megastores with exciting displays and in store theatre with loads of product advisors on hand to help and advise the next generation of parents.
To celebrate their success in the UK toy industry, Toys ‘R’ Us have compiled a list of the favourite toys purchased by customers over the past 25 years:
1985 Transformers, Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime £16.87. The vehicles that switched from vehicle to robot and back again were in huge demand at Christmas
1986 Football Stickers. Just 10p per pack. The year of the World Cup – and Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal – sparked a nationwide playground sticker craze.
1987 Sylvanian Families. A Family set for £6.97. The cute little animal families came with hundreds of accessories – everything from houses to clothes and even table ornaments.
1988 Ghostbusters Proton Pack £19.87. Kids everywhere wanted a replica ‘proton pack’ to capture spooks.
1989 Batman Bat Mobile £9.94. Batmania swept the UK with the launch of Tim Burton’s Batman movie.
1990 Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. £3.78 for each figure. The ‘heroes in a half-shell’ (Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael) came kung fu kicking their way out of the sewers of New York and into the hearts of UK youngsters.
1991 GameBoy. £69.94. Nintendo launched the pocket-sized computer game in the UK to a rapturous reception.
1992 Thunderbirds Tracy Island £32.87. Thunderbirds was reborn and dads treated their kids to the famous ‘Tracy Island’ causing queues galore at Christmas
1993 Barbie Dolls from £10.97. Ever popular, the beautiful and perfect Barbie was a huge favourite for girls this year.
1994 Power Rangers Figures £4.74. The launch of Power Rangers caused worldwide demand with their ‘GO GO Power Rangers theme tune.
1995 POGS. 49p. A new craze swept the school playgrounds and became a sensational success. These little ‘milk caps’ were meant to be collected – and flipped like outsize tiddlywinks.
1996 Toy Story Buzz Lightyear £23.87 The Pixar movie opened in the UK setting a new standard for animation and making overnight sensation of Buzz Lightyear.
1997 2 in 1 year – Teletubbies £27.39 and Tamagotchi – Teletubbies took the BBC by storm and Tamagotchi became the new playground craze as virtual pets came over from Japan. The egg shaped virtual pet sold over 40 million pieces in 1997. Both toys created massive queues at Toys R Us made overnight deliveries to cope with demand.
1998 Furby, the Interactive Pet £24.87. Furby, the Interactive Pet from Bandai launched in late October and became the big Christmas toy
1999 Who wants to be a Millionaire? £23.78. Chris Tarrant’s popular TV quiz got the nation guessing and a new board game and interactive game flew off the shelves.
2000 Teksta the Robotic Dogs £ 38.74. Teksta became a popular interactive pet – his artificial intelligence responded to light, sound, touch and infra-red.
2001 Bob the Builder £19.97. Loved by all, Bob and his pals, Scoop, Muck and Dizzy were on all pre-schoolers’ wish lists.
2002 Bratz Dolls £24.99. Bratz, the dolls with a ‘passion for fashion’ arrived in town, putting Barbie’s nose out of joint.
2003 Beyblades £5.99. A new Japanese phenomenon – Beyblades, the battling spinning tops took UK playgrounds by storm and became a hit for Christmas.
2004 Robosapien £74.97. The radio control robot with NASA technology was in big demand with last minute deliveries being made to Toys R Us stores.
2005 It’s the year for MP3 Players, PSP and Xbox 360 (ranging from £9.99 to £299.99) for a younger generation becoming user-friendly with modern technology.
2006 Nintendo Wii (ranging from £129.99 to £169.99) took the world by storm and became the must-have toy for Christmas.
2007 In the Night Garden Iggle Piggle £34.99 Newcomer Iggle Piggle from In the Night Garden was loved by little ones.
2008 High School Musical Dance Mat £17.99 reach popularity stakes in the toy sections.
2009 Go Go Pet Hamsters £9.99 became the must-have toy with shelves being restocked on a daily basis.
2010 Toy Story 3 (priced from £4.99) has already influenced British shoppers and is sure to be a stocking filler for kids up and down the UK this Christmas