When the holiday season comes around, everyone hunts for the perfect present. Children used to ask Santa for a toy they saw in a store or commercial, but now the internet dominates holiday shopping. Plus, a majority of adults like to buy toys for themselves, as well. And, of course, they often do so with a quick internet search, which means that with a bit of digging, you can uncover the most popular toys in every country just by looking at some search trends!
Originally released in the U.S. in 1959, the biggest star in the doll world is also the most uniquely popular toy globally. Barbie is a beloved brand that has been sold in 150 countries, and it tops the popularity charts in 32 of them.
When looking at only dolls, Barbie dominates in 75 countries. Everyone's favorite model, presidential candidate, firefighter, and game developer is popular on every continent. This is particularly true for Africa, where 17 countries search online for Barbie more than any other toy.
It should come as no surprise that in 2022, video game consoles are extremely popular worldwide. They are so popular, in fact, that they take up four of the top five slots of the most-searched-for toys online.
While the Playstation 5 is technically the most-searched-for console, the most uniquely popular choice across more countries is the Nintendo Switch. This portable device won the console war in 69 countries thanks to its lower cost, wide availability, and Nintendo's pure brand power.
Though video games are extremely popular, they simply cannot hope to compete with the affordability and reach of the other big toys. Despite the Switch topping the console lists in most countries, it isn't actually the most popular toy in any country.
Meanwhile, the PS5 is the most uniquely popular toy in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and San Marino. The Xbox Series X tops the toy list in Antigua and Barbuda.
If there were one country, you would think a console would be the most popular toy; it would have to be Japan. After all, it's the birthplace of Sony and Nintendo—the two biggest names in gaming consoles. And yet, the most uniquely popular toy in Japan is the classic board game Guess Who? Plus, Japan is the only country where Guess Who? ends up in the top spot.
While Barbie may be the queen of the doll world, she's not the top pick in every country. In Chile, Funko Pops are the most popular toy of choice. These affordable, collectible figures appeal to a massive number of people thanks to their sheer variety.
If you like a particular character, they probably exist in Funko Pop form. You can even get Funko Pops of real people, like athletes, musicians, and even Conan O'Brien. Some people like to treat Funko Pops like true collectibles and never remove them from their boxes. Others simply love to see their favorite characters decorating their workspaces and gaming battlestations.
Interestingly, while they're not the most popular toy, Funko Pops are the most beloved dolls in Argentina, Russia, Malta, and Taiwan.
Every year, Americans spend more money on toys than any other country in the world. While a lot of that cash goes to video game consoles and big-name toys, the most popular choices in America are old classics: Lincoln Logs.
These simple little notched logs have entertained American children for over a century and even entered the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1999. Lincoln Logs allow children and adults alike to express their creativity and provide them with an infinite source of entertainment.
Bratz Dolls fully embodied the energy of the 2000s, thanks to their intense makeup, edgier clothes, and stronger attitudes. Despite these traits spawning several controversies—and even getting into a legal battle with Barbie's designers—Bratz Dolls' unique styles appealed to people around the world.
In fact, they are the toy of choice in several countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Bosnia–Herzegovina.
Monopoly has probably been the source of more heated arguments than any other board game. Yet, somehow, it's still the game of choice for people all over the globe. With over 1,500 varieties and a legacy spanning almost 90 years, the game's wide availability might have something to do with its popularity.
Monopoly is particularly well-liked in Africa, where it's the most uniquely popular toy in four countries, losing only to Barbie. In 2012, the largest city in Nigeria, Lagos, became the first African city to have its own Monopoly board.
Most people might expect American Girl Dolls to be the most popular toy in the U.S., but they're not. They're not even the most popular doll in the country. That honor goes to the Cabbage Patch Kids. However, American Girl Dolls are the most popular toy in Canada.
When looking only at the doll category, American Girl Dolls manage to beat the competition in Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
If you live outside of the U.K., your first reaction to the name "Stickle Bricks" is probably absolute confusion. However, the name is incredibly accurate as these toddler-friendly toys are literally bricks with some sticks emerging from them. The cute toys come in all manner of shapes and sizes and can interlock, just like many other building blocks.
Despite aiming for a much younger audience than options like Barbie or even Hot Wheels, Stickle Bricks are still the most uniquely popular toys in the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland.
If you walk into any toy store, you'll find LEGO sets for anything you can think of, ranging from dinosaurs to replicas of national monuments to fully functional robots. Those little plastic bricks have brought joy to millions of people around the planet.
In countries like Liechtenstein and Slovenia, LEGO is the single most popular toy across all categories. When dividing it up to just include building and construction toys, LEGO is the brand of choice for most of the world—though it still loses out to Stickle Bricks in the U.K. Additionally, while LEGO is number one in only a few countries, it's still the most widely searched-for toy in 2022.
Nintendo is primarily known for its game development, but they've worked on many different products across a lot of fields. In 2018, the entertainment giant announced a new product: Nintendo Labo. These individual construction kits came with pieces of perforated cardboard that allowed you to build various gadgets and toys, many of which interacted with the Nintendo Switch.
Many people just thought of Labo as a cute gimmick, but some countries latched onto it more than others. The cardboard construction kits even managed to beat LEGO for the top spot in countries like Venezuela and Guatemala.
Some of the most adored toys available are tie-ins with our favorite TV shows. As you might expect, the battle for the most popular TV toy is a close one. Though, as anyone with young children might know, it's hard to beat out dogs with jobs. Paw Patrol airs on TV networks in over 160 countries and is the TV merchandise of choice for 19 countries.
Most of the items that make the popularity charts are brand names or a series of products rather than one specific item. One of the notable exceptions, however, is the legendary Tickle Me Elmo. The laughing Muppet first arrived on shelves in 1996 and quickly became a hit. Resellers were soon marketing the plush for over $1,500. In 2017, Playskool released a new version of the ticklish creature to widespread delight.
On the TV toy list, Tickle Me Elmo manages to snag the number one popularity spot in Germany and the Netherlands.
It's not an understatement to say that superheroes dominate the pop culture world. Nearly all of the top-grossing movies from the last several years are superhero movies. Of course, this also spreads to toy sales. But who is the number one hero in the eyes of the world? Well, according to Google searches, the most uniquely popular superhero toys are Spider-Man products.
The web-slinger swings to the top in 24 countries, beating out other top faves like Batman, Superman, and Captain America. It's worth noting that Canada's favorite hero is the Canadian-born Wolverine, while the U.S. is infatuated with Catwoman.
Now that we're a full generation away from the 90s, it's safe to say that Millenials' favorite toys are now retro. Many of the products are still in production, while others regularly pop up on resell markets. However, the winners of the nostalgia war are the Nintendo Game Boy and Polly Pocket. Both of these iconic toys launched in 1989 and are the most uniquely popular 90s toys in 24 countries each (Sorry, Furby.)
Sometimes, old toys are simply the best toys. They're classics for a reason, right? Of course, Barbie beats out most of the old guard. After her, however, it gets a bit more interesting.
Countries like South Africa and Kazakhstan adore Play-Doh, while the U.S. is all about the Rock' Em, Sock' Em Robots. Austria likes to keep it simple with the hula hoop, and the yoyo leads the list in Egypt, Vietnam, and Iceland.
In terms of iconic toys, it's hard to beat the Rubik's Cube. Hungarian architecture Ernő Rubik first designed the simple puzzle box to help explain geometry to his class—accidentally creating the best-selling toy of all time in the process. Despite its commercial success, the cube isn't the most popular toy in Hungary. That honor goes to the magnetic construction toy, Geomag.
The Rubik's Cube isn't even the most popular classic toy in Hungary—Matchbox is! Where the puzzle box does dominate, however, is Ethiopia and Bahrain.
Board games have brought together (and torn apart) families for years, and some of those ancient games are still around today. One example of this is Ludo, a variation of an Indian game called Pachisi, which originated in the sixth century CE.
To this day, Ludo is the most uniquely popular toy in a handful of countries and is the most popular board game in 29 countries, 18 of which are in Africa.
A lot of adults are still kids at heart. They have their favorite shows and characters, and nobody is too old to enjoy a toy or something they love. Plus, adults often have more money to spend on the things they enjoy. If you can somehow appeal to both kids and adults, you're sure to corner the market.
One such example of this is Sailor Moon, which became the most popular franchise of TV toys in North America. Sales of statues, figures, and toys lead to the Sailor Scouts taking the top slot in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Similar waves occurred with Masters of the Universe toys and Star Wars toys, all of which have an audience spanning from young children to wizened adults.