Back to the future: retro toys in huge demand this Christmas

Shirae Baker holds baby Harlow, six weeks, as Miela, 2, holds her own Baby Born.
Shirae Baker holds baby Harlow, six weeks, as Miela, 2, holds her own Baby Born. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Wandering down the aisles of Super Toyworld & Hobbies in Fyshwick, it's hard to find a toy that you didn't once own yourself in the 1980s and 90s.

From Cabbage Patch dolls and Polly Pocket to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers, Christmas 2018 is all about nostalgia and Toyworld can't stock its shelves with retro toys fast enough.

My Little Ponies and Star Wars action figures are popular this year, as is a new Lego version of 1980s super robot Voltron.

The Tamagotchi, a virtual pet first released in 1997, is still in demand 21 years later.
The Tamagotchi, a virtual pet first released in 1997, is still in demand 21 years later. Photo: Ryan Stuart

But the most in-demand toy in the 'girls section' of Toyworld this year is Baby Born, the newborn-like doll manufactured by global giant Zapf Creation. Baby Born was first released for Christmas 1991 and has since sold 22 million units worldwide.

And while collectable lines like LOL dolls and Shopkins come with ever more complex accessories and features, Baby Born remains simple - the doll comes in simple packaging with a bath, a nappy, a dummy and a potty.

Remote control cars are back in a big way this year, according to Super Toyworld & Hobbies managing director Geoff Morton, with Japanese manufacturer Tamiya re-releasing The Hornet - a car you build and then drive remotely - for the first time since it hit shelves in time for Christmas 1984.

"It's the nostalgia - it's being able to be a kid again, to relive your childhood through your kids," Geoff said.

"Some of the toys have evolved a little bit over the years - with more accessories - but most are as simple as they were in the 80s.

"The toy companies know that it's the simple formulas that work."

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Geoff said Toyworld has "definitely seen an uptick in business" since the closure of the Majura Park Toys-R-Us store in August, with some new customers commenting on the "retro experience" of the Fyshwick store.

"We've been in Canberra in various forms since 1979," he said.

Miela Baker, 2, shows off her Baby Born, the same doll mum Shirae had in the 1990s.
Miela Baker, 2, shows off her Baby Born, the same doll mum Shirae had in the 1990s. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Data from shopping platform eBay reveals the top three toys nationally for 'big kids' includes the Super Nintendo console (first released by Nintendo in 1990), The Original Tamagotchi (first released by Bandai in 1997) and Barbie Dream House (launched globally by Mattel as a cardboard lounge room in 1962).

Queanbeyan mum Shirae Baker, who bought two-year-old daughter Miela a Baby Born doll when second baby Harlow arrived in early November, is considering a Cabbage Patch doll for Miela for Christmas. Shirae owned both dolls as a little girl.

"I remember my own Baby Born doll in the mid-90s, I dragged her around everywhere and thought she was real," Shirae laughs.

"I just love that Baby Born brings Miela that same joy - her little face lights up when she plays with her, the same way mine did.

"I think Miela would love a Cabbage Patch doll from Santa. I'm more into the one-off special dolls than tiny little collectables."

Top toys for 'big kids', Christmas 2018*

  1. Monopoly Cheaters
  2. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) classic
  3. Polly Pocket
  4. The Original Tamagotchi
  5. Barbie Dream House
  6. Betty Spaghetty
  7. Hot Wheels Monster Jam Tour Favourites
  8. Beanie Babies
  9. Transformers: Augmented Bee Vision
  10. LEGO Fantastic Beasts Grindelwald¬īs Escape Playset Toy

*Source: eBay