IN search of something to pass the time on a rainy day, we've turned up a great picture gallery from our archives on the theme of toys and games through the ages.

Here are columnist Sally Clifford's memories...

Fads and trends come and go. Not so long ago tiny rubber bands you could fashion into all manner of things such as jewellery - and not forgetting the famous dress put up for sale on a social media site - were all the rage.

Loading article content

Move over Loom Bands and make way for the... fidget spinner! The colourful palm-sized contraption is the talk of playgrounds up and down the country - and don’t we parents know it?

Weeks into the craze taking off, I managed to snap one up in a local newsagents - the customer coming in after me, presumably a parent with his child, was also on the quest for the same contraption. The young lad smiled as I talked about my daughter’s desire for one while deliberating on which she would like from the colour palette before me.

I have to say I was rather proud I’d managed to resist the initial pester power - but not for long!

With reports that some schools are actually banning them for being too distracting, I can see the point, but they certainly keep children entertained, balancing them between their fingers and perfecting the tricks and spins they can share with their pals.

Apparently though, spinners and their cube counterparts do bring benefits. They keep hands busy and can be a distraction, particularly for those with specific mental health problems or learning difficulties. No doubt the craze will eventually calm down - it certainly won’t be the first toy craze to come and go.

Here we reminisce over a few of the toy fads over the years that have prompted demand and created the pester power for parents to fulfill those all important birthday and Christmas wish lists!

From cuddly characters to challenging puzzles and board games, many of us have seen them all. Generations ago, before the invention of technology which dominates and dictates our everyday lives, children were happy and content with simple pleasures.

Waking up on Christmas morning to find an orange in your pillow case and a few gifts, compared with the masses of presents many children receive - often too many to play with - was exciting in as much as it was symbolic of it being specially delivered by Father Christmas.

But when it comes to gifts it really shouldn’t be measured on monetary value; after all, it is the thought that counts.

Of course, popularity sparks the demand and when something is promoted or given a celebrity endorsement its success soon gains pace - and when it comes to toys and games it can often be a race to get the latest gadget before the inevitable happens and stocks runs out.

Remember the queues of customers clamouring for yesteryear’s toys, the likes of cuddly characters and challenging games and puzzles many of us grew up with.

Since its launch in 1980, Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Erno Rubik’s colourful but difficult-to-fathom Rubik’s Cube has entertained masses of people.

While many were able to colour match the cube’s six sides with ease, others became frustrated that, having completed one side, they then had to disrupt their efforts while trying to match the nine coloured squares on the other remaining sides - not an easy task. But for those who mastered the art, it was a very worthy achievement.

Even now the Rubik’s Cube has never really gone out of fashion - apparently since its launch some 400 million have now been sold, proving it remains as popular as ever.

From games to cuddly characters, the 80s also saw the launch of those furry friends many of us came to know and love.

Care Bears were another craze - each colourful teddy bearing its own insignia relating to its characteristics were soon all the rage.

Funshine, Friend and Birthday were just some of the characters from this fluffy family. Talking of cuddly collectibles, who could forget those soft-sculptured Cabbage Patch Kids whose popularity soared during the 80s?

And what about the must-have Furby, the electronic toy originally launched in the late 90s?

From the same decade many will remember the fictional space ranger hero Buzz Lightyear who became the must-have character from Toy Story, sparking a buying frenzy.

The same decade also saw a resurgence of Gerry Anderson’s cult 60s series, Thunderbirds, when the 90s relaunch led to soaring sales of Tracy Island, the Tracy family’s unique emergency response operation.

And who could forget parents battling to get the latest in-demand gadget of the 90s - the Tamagotchi? Developed in Japan, where it was released in 1996 ahead of its release in America and Europe the following year, this hand-held digital pet started out as a small alien species owners have to raise to adulthood.

Tamagotchi is one of the biggest toy trends of the 90s and early 2000s and, since its inception, millions have been sold worldwide.

Toys and games take us back to a place in time and this photo gallery of toy trends is sure to stir fond memories for our readers.

The pictures cover everything from dolls and toy soldiers to the dawn of the videogame age.

There are some all-time classics in here, plus some that have been forgotten in the mists of time - Dragon Island or Masterball, anyone?

  • Let us know your favourite toys and games in the comments