With Christmas just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to take a nostalgic look back at the most popular toys of yesteryear. And while we’re at it, we will take a peek at how the UK’s leading market, the FTSE 100 was faring whilst our parents were busy wrestling each other for the last My Little Pony in the shop.
We start in 1984. The year the UK’s leading market index, the FTSE 100 was born.
1984: The FTSE 100 Index opened on 3rd January ‘transforming’ the stock market landscape forever. The index opened at a base level of 1000 points, and sits at around 6876 today, giving you some indication of how things have gone.
Toy of '84: Transformers
Recently revamped, Transformers still draw an audience. Optimus Prime would have set you back around £10.00 in 1984. Today, an original Prime all boxed and in disguise would set you back £80.00.
1985: FTSE 100 companies received their first market valuation (known as a ‘market cap’) of £164 billion. Many of the companies within the FTSE have since changed, but these days its market cap is nearly £2 trillion!
Toy of '85: Care Bears
You might not care, but over 40 million of these wide-eyed huggable monsters were sold.
1987: One of the most chaotic years in the FTSE’s history, including the only day it failed to open – the day after the famous ‘Great Storm’ battered the UK. It was also the year of the Black Monday crash when the FTSE suffered its biggest ever one day fall of -12.22%. The next day also saw one of the FTSEs biggest one-day gains, as it clawed back some of the previous day’s losses and remarkably, the index ended the year higher than it had started.
Toy of '87: THE KOOSH!
The inventor of the Koosh had the idea when he realised that his children couldn’t catch a real ball. They were soon catching the money train instead as the Koosh became ‘87’s biggest seller.
1989: The technology boom of the late ‘80s was not lost on the FTSE 100. January ’89 saw the strongest start to any year to date, with the FTSE opening up 14.4%, due to the introduction of blue-chip companies to the index.
Toy of '89: Tetris / Gameboy
In Berlin, they were knocking down a wall. Everywhere else in the world, people were building them in Tetris on the Gameboy. Throw Mario into the mix and Gameboy was the must-have toy of ’89 and moved us firmly into the tech revolution.
1990: This year saw the largest ever month-on-month rise of the FTSE, growing by 11.49% during May. Strangely, this is not typically seen as a strong month for investing, proving once again that the markets can always teach the experts a thing or two.
Toy of '90: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Turtle Power swept the nation and continues to do so, teaching kids that if you flush your pets down the toilet, they just might mutate, develop karate skills and fight crime – a somewhat irresponsible message, on reflection.
1992: Black Wednesday taught the government and markets a thing or two about money. Interest rates soared and a small number of investors made a very pretty penny – a £1 billion profit in the case of George Soros – as they capitalised on the sterling failing to reach its benchmark.
Toy of '92: WWF
The ‘ultimate’ toy of the year were your favourite clothes-lining showstoppers from WWF.
1997: A solid year for the FTSE following the landslide arrival of New Labour. The index recorded its best year to date, rising by 24.69% in the 12-month period.
Toy of '97: Tamagotchis
Long before we had smartphones, this Japanese toy was keeping everyone’s eyes looking down. Originally designed to teach girls how to take care of children, the electronic pets went on to sell over 76 million units worldwide. It’s uncertain how many have survived though…
1999: The FTSE recorded its highest level (6950.6 points) on 30 December ‘99, perhaps a mixture of the dotcom bubble and an optimistic nod to the new century ahead. This record level was not surpassed until recently, in October 2016 when the index hit new heights of 7079.50 points.
Toy of '99: Pokemon
Recently enjoying a come-back in the form of Pokemon Go, this phenomenon first landed in the form of a TV show and collectible cards, dominating UK playgrounds and becoming a true millennium bug! Gotta catch ‘em all… gotta catch ‘em all… gotta catch ‘em all…
2008: Considered by many to be the worst stock market crash since 1929, the 2008 bank and credit crisis hit the world economy hard. The FTSE 100 saw one of its most turbulent years, recording its largest annual fall (down 31.33%) and some of its biggest daily rises and falls to date.
Toy of '08: Dance Mats
When the world is falling apart, there’s nothing for it but to dance! No self-respecting teenage girl was without one in 2008, forcing anyone who had the misfortune to visit into a dance challenge. The craze slowly died down when people realised they could dance without the use of a mat… who knew?
2016: It’s been a turbulent year for the markets… and pretty much everything else in the world! That being said, the FTSE 100 has seen a steady rise throughout the year, even peaking to a new record high in October.
Toy of '16: LEGO
Nexus Knights – not that it ever really went away, but LEGO has been making a serious comeback in recent years, helped by the popularity of its new film franchise. Predictions are that LEGO will be a top seller this Christmas.
It has been a turbulent 32 years for the FTSE 100. And a great time for toys.
Yet, despite the highs and lows, the FTSE 100 has grown by almost 540%1 since its inception. That’s an average of 5.8% per year which would be a pretty decent return by most people’s standards.
The moral therefore is, stock markets rise and fall, but if you focus on the long term and ignore major market events, your investments should see good, inflation-beating and cash savings-beating returns.
Please remember that the value of your investments can go down as well as up and you can get back less than invested.
1FTSE performance 538.17% 31/01/1984 – 30/11/2016. Source: Bloomberg
Historical FTSE performance figures sourced via Bloomberg
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