Toys have been used since the beginning of time. They are usually for children and infants to play with. Toys can keep them busy and occupied and make their playtime a lot more fun. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of buying a baby a present?  For most of you, it is a toy. Toys and games are what we all grow up playing with. Toys are not only specifically for children; there are lots of toys for adults as well.  Let us discuss a history of toys.

Where did the first toy come from, and who came up with the idea? This question must have come up in many minds. To answer this question in this article, I will be discussing the history of toys and their origins.

Which Things Influenced The Toys In Each Period?

Before I move on with a history of toys, let’s talk about what were the inspirations and thoughts behind making toys. The main thing that led to it was the influence of a civilization’s culture, the religion and customs and norms followed by the people living in that area. It depended a lot on the material available and the political conditions of that group of people. For example, if a civilization was at war, the toys were mainly war equipment because it was what children saw around them and it influenced them. Even now, you can see that in Mexican culture, decorating the skulls and in Christian culture decorating Easter eggs and Christmas tree has a religious origin, which has now become a toy in the hands of children.

The First Toy

A History of Toys with first known toy
Clay Cart

Nobody knows exactly what the first toy was, but according to what archaeologists have found, the earliest toy was found in the Indus valley. The Indus civilization dates back to almost 3000 BC. So it is supposed that the first toy was made in the Indus civilization. It was a cart made of clay and stone. There were also some whistles shaped in the form of bird and monkey cart found in the excavation. These toys signalized the lifestyle and living of people in the Indus civilization. It clearly does not represent war. The main symbolism is towards livestock and farming.

The Early Toys

After the Indus civilization, there were toys found in many other civilizations. The Greek and Egyptian civilizations had the most stock of it. Toys that were found were mainly made of sticks, twigs, and mud. Toys there were miniature statues of horses and an arrow and bow. They were made of sticks and small wooden and bamboo twigs. It showed their lifestyle in general, which more was towards war and defense.

Toys In The Middle Ages

In the middle ages after there was a bit of progress in the toys as with the other equipment of daily use. For example, people who had progressed from swords are arrows to weapons like guns and ammunition. The material used was then plastic. So the toys mainly used by children to play were plastic guns and rubber balls. The cloth was also used to make toys. The first cotton stuffed toy was made in the middle ages. The middle age was also the time when war and battles for land were common, so the main themes of toys were of that. However, there were toys like balls and yoyos for the children to play with. Marble balls and small kitchen toys were also found. It is believed that by that time, people had started paying attention to children’s toys more, and it is where a history of toys actually begins because, in the earlier times, toys were not specifically made for children. Kids used to improvise on their own and use their minds to make things that looked like toys to them.

Toys After Industrial Revolution

A History Of Toys
Jigsaw Puzzle

It was after the industrial revolution in the 1700s that the attention shifted towards other things like studies and other science and medicine matters, which in turn influenced the interests of kids. The attention shifted towards education. It was seen in the late seventeenth century that a geographist made a jigsaw puzzle of maps for his students to help them learn to map. It was from their jigsaw puzzles that became common. Other such thought-provoking puzzles were also made.

It was then that toy cars were made for boys, and dolls and dollhouses were made for girls. Trains, toy soldiers, and toy airplanes were also introduced then. Spinning tops, hoops, knucklebones, and jack in the box were also introduced. Toys were then used in daily sports by the children.

Types of Toys In The Past

In earlier times, people did not have much to do, so their main activities were quite limited. Children in ancient Greece did not have to go to school or have chores in the house. That is why it is seen in a history of toys that mainly the toys were not too sophisticated, but they were treasured by the kids. The irony here is that now there are many varieties of toys, and they are in abundance for children, but children are too busy with other activities. Toys were mainly catapults, hoops, guns, kitchen sets, dolls, dollhouses, marbles, balls, and swords. Children enjoyed playing outdoor games, so the toys made for outdoor activities. However, dolls and stuffed toys have always been the choice of girls for quite some time now.

A History of Toys Based on Gender

A History Of Toys
Paper Toy

It is not that I am specifying toys for different genders, but in the past, as time passed, toys were made for specific genders. It was made keeping in view the interests of kids then. It is a general thought that boys are attracted to soldiers and toy cars while girls prefer dolls and other household toys. It’s been proven by researchers now. It was after the 15th century that toys were made for both genders separately.

Girls usually like playing indoor games like paper folding and kitchen and house building games while boys are more into simulation games. They like puzzles and games that involve problem-solving strategies in them. However, there is no restriction, and there had been no restriction in the past as well to play with gender-specific toys. It was made keeping the joy of kids in mind.

Types of Materials Used to Make Toys

Different materials like paper, clay, wood, and plastic are widely used to make toys. Talking of the history of toys, the materials used were wood and clay; majorly, these materials were used until the 14th century. After that, metal wires and rods were also used. People quit using them for making toys because of their sharp edges. It was seen as possibly injuring kids, and it was not safe. It was after that, wood and plastic were the main materials for making toys. In the past, when plastic was just introduced, it was not of great quality but later on, quality improved, and so did the quality of toys. These days most toys are made up of plastic as it is synthetic and safe for children.

Toys After The 20th Century

The materials of toys in the 20th century were plastic and plasticine. Toy manufacturing was halted in the early 20th century due to wars and other crises in the world. The only change was they were more stuffed toys at that time.

After the 1950s, the focus was on themed toys. The first themed toy range was mutant ninja turtle toys and it, later on, progressed with Disney characters and their toys. It was so much appreciated by the kids at that time. The themed toys continue to be made to this day. Barbie’s and cars with new models each year have kept children waiting for a new one and their excitement level at a peak. Battery-operated toys have also become common after the 20th century and in themed 20th century.

The Timeline On A History Of Toys

3000 BC Clay carts
2000 BC Stone marbles in Egypt
1000 BC Kites and yoyos in china
The 1300s Wooden carts and catapults
The 1400s Dolls were found in Asia
The 1500s Soldier toys
The 1700s Roller skates
The late 1800s Crayons
1909 Themed doll
1925 First electric horn train
1931 Scrabble was launched
1936 Monopoly was launched
1949 Lego bricks blocks
1952 Mr. Potato head was launched this year.
1953 The first princess doll was made
1959 Barbie was first introduced
1966 Action man as the first doll for boys
1974 A magnetic drawing toy, Magna doodle, was launched.
1977 The first slime toy was made
1980 Rubik’s was developed
1982 Lego train was launched
1984 Carebears were launched
1985 Transformer toys were launched
1988 Ghostbuster toys were launched
1990 Teenage mutant ninja turtle toys were back in action
1993 Power ranger toys were launched.
1996 First toy story merch and toy was launched
2000 Robotic pet toys were launched
2000 onward All different themes came launching.


Toys have been an essential part of our lives. We have literally grown up with toys, and we hope to provide the same to our kids. It is like toys became a part of our family. Many kids treat them like one of them and talk to them. This effect that toys have has made them so popular. The history of toys dates back long ago, and I hope you learned about it through this blog.

Let me know how you liked A History of Toys in the comments section below.

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