40 Years of Busy Bees

Britains lofts are filled with more than one billion treasured toys

Published: 27/01/2023

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Busy Bees

Britain's lofts are filled with more than one billion treasured toys – including Barbie, LEGO and Hot Wheels. 

To celebrate our 40th anniversary and to explore how toys and the way children play with them have changed throughout this period, we conducted a study of 2,000 adults which revealed they each have an average of 20 toys and playthings stashed away, with 65 per cent planning to pass their old toys to their children or grandchildren. 

Popular items safely stored also include Fisher Price telephones, Slinkys and Rubik’s Cubes. Whilst favourites from the 1990s, like Gameboys and Etch-a-Sketch, can still be found in many households across the country.

Nearly six in 10 (57 per cent) of those who have kept their treasured toys since they were a child have done so because they hold special memories for them. With 59 per cent of these believing their children or grandchildren will get the same levels of enjoyment from them that they had in their youth.  

Marg Randles, Co-Founder of Busy Bees said: “To mark our 40th anniversary, we wanted to celebrate play and showcase just how important it is to a child’s formative years. 

“It is heart-warming to learn that so many people have saved their precious childhood toys in order to pass them down through the generations. 

“It really is a reminder that whilst toys may have changed over the years, the pleasure they provide and the important role they play in a child’s development remains the same.

“Over the last 40 years, there have been huge changes in toys and the patterns of play – from the characters and materials used, to the introduction of technology. 

“We champion play and the vital role it plays in a child’s learning and development – and we are proud that this remains fundamental to everything we do.”

The study found 74 per cent of those who kept their collection feel it is precious to them, while 79 per cent said dusting them off from time to time makes them feel nostalgic. 

And 13 per cent have even managed to preserve them in mint condition, with 43 per cent keeping them in a good state.  

More than one in four (28 per cent) think they could be sitting on a goldmine with their playthings, estimating that their collection could be worth an average of £300. 

However, 47 per cent admit they love their toys so much they have no intention of selling. 

Thinking back to their childhoods, 38 per cent referred the toys which they could play with alongside their friends, while 37 per cent were drawn to those which sparked their imagination.  

Comparing favoured childhood toys to those available today, two-thirds don’t think they make toys like they used to, and 59 per cent wish the ones they cherished were still being produced today. 

Half believe their traditional toys encouraged them to be more active, while 45 per cent felt like they stimulated cognitive development. 

It also emerged that, of the parents and grandparents polled, they believe their little ones still get the most joy from the toys which they can use with their friends. 

And 94 per cent think toys are an important part of their children’s and grandchildren’s upbringing. 

Marg Randles added: “Parents and grandparents understand the vital role that toys play in a child’s development during their formative years. 

“Learning through play in the early years is so important to a child’s future because it lays down educational foundations for years to come. 

“It helps children develop curious minds and a love of learning, to be creative, independent and caring and considerate to each other and the world around them. 

“No matter how drastically toys may have changed in the past 40 years, it’s the values of play that remain the same and that’s why so many parents and grandparents want to pass on the beloved toys from their childhood to share in their joy with future generations.” 

1.     Barbie
2.     LEGO
3.     Hot Wheels
4.     G.I. Joe
5.     Suzy Homemaker
6.     Fisher Price telephone
7.     Lite-Brite
8.     Slinky
9.     Rubik’s Cube
10.   Nerf Ball
11.   Fisher Price record player
12.   Sylvanian Family
13.   My Little Pony
14.   Etch A Sketch
15.   Fisher Price Little People
16.   Game Boy
17.   Weebles
18.   He-Man action figure
19.   Beanie Babies
20.   SEGA
21.   Troll Doll
22.   Mr. Potato Head
23.   Barbie’s Dream House
24.   Care Bear
25.   Tonka Truck
26.   Star Wars action figures
27.   Transformers
28.   Playmobil
29.   Simon
30.   Chatter Telephone
31.   Polly Pocket
32.   Cabbage Patch Kids
33.   Chatty Cathy
34.   Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures
35.   Easy-Bake Oven
36.   Flatsy Doll
37.   Teddy Ruxpin
38.   Speak & Spell
39.   See ‘n Say
40.   Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine