What do kids these days want for Christmas? A new webcam so they can stream on Twitch? The hottest new vape to show off to their friends? All the Robux they can spend in their Roblox games?
I’m not even 30 years old yet and I’m already utterly baffled by the younger generations. I certainly don’t want to come off as an overly nostalgic curmudgeon who thinks everything that Generation Alpha does is bad or dumb. It just seems like times are changing fast and my grasp on the zeitgeist of the younger generations is fleeting. If kids today would rather have the newest Celebration Pack for Fortnite instead of a pair of Nike basketball shoes, that’s all well and good.
However, spare me my moment of nostalgic recollection. In the 1990s, all kids wanted were toys. Having the newest toy was the highest form of social currency. I regretfully remember being so shallow that I would maintain friendships with other kids simply because they had a dope playroom at their house filled with every new toy one could possibly imagine.
If that kid would pee his pants and cry every time I went over to his house, I was willing to put up with that for the opportunity to sample the latest and greatest offering from the minds of Hasbro. To this day, I still hold on to some of the toys I had as a kid as defining mementos of my childhood.
The ‘90s were quirky times and the toys that defined the generation were equally as quirky. In this article, I’m going to go through some of the toys that bring back the fondest memories from that era. Soon, all recollection of these toys may be lost to the sands of time. So, think of this as a final ecstatic celebration of the awesomeness that was ‘90s toys.
Speaking of elevating one’s social status, was there anyone cooler than that kid who could score 263 (the highest score possible) in Classic on the original Bop It? I remember entire afternoons spent in my friend’s living room passing the Bop It back and forth, trying to one-up each other’s scores. In fact, I recently discovered how much fun Bop It is after a few alcoholic beverages (now that I’m legally old enough to consume those).
The experience of playing with a Bop It was nothing short of thrilling. The pace of the game would increase as you bopped it, twisted it, and pulled it, and your heart rate would naturally increase and the beat grew faster and faster.
You could pass the Bop It around in the multiplayer mode and find that your brow had grown sweaty from the fear of being that jackass who couldn’t twist it fast enough. Then, when they came out with Bop It Extreme, things got even crazier.
Personally, I always found the Furby to be rather creepy, but it would be a cardinal sin against ‘90s kids to not include it on this list. These were the neediest toys ever created by human hands.
Want your kids to have unlimited, nagging distractions while they’re trying to do their homework? Get them a Furby. Want a toy that’s going to stare at you when you sleep and occasionally scream out random catchphrases? Get a Furby. Want an animatronic animal that won’t shut up even if you throw it at a wall? Furby is the toy for you.
Alright, perhaps that was a little harsh. The Furby was undeniably cute with those blinking LED eyes, that fluffy fur coat, and those heartwarming utterances (that never stopped). They came in all sorts of different colors and you could even teach them how to say new phrases. If you remember teaching a Furby to say some naughty words, you certainly aren’t alone.
What’s more fun than a pillow fight? Shoving your hands in some inflatable bags and beating the shit out of your best buddy. That’s right, for the adolescent boy with increasing testosterone levels and entirely too much aggression, Socker Boppers were the perfect toy.
The genius was in their simplicity. They were literally just inflatable bags with little holes that you could stick your hands in and then proceed to pretend you were WWE’s Randy Orton all over your friend’s face.
I’m still astonished to this day that my parents ever agreed to let me get Socker Boppers. Just because they were pretty soft didn’t mean that someone couldn’t get seriously injured playing with them.
In fact, I remember a friend of mine’s head ricocheting off a hard wooden dresser after getting launched across the room by a well-placed Socker Bopper punch. These things were no joke, ladies and gentlemen.
While Socker Boppers were intended for cathartic expressions of physical rage, the Lite-Brite was meant to nurture a child’s gentler, more artistic sides. This toy allows you to strategically place translucent pegs in an artistic design and then watch it come to life in a multicolored light show. In fact, I think the Lite-Brite might even be partially responsible for the vaporwave and cyberpunk aesthetics.
One of the best parts about the Lite-Brite was that you could play with it endlessly. Sort of like the Etch A Sketch, the Lite-Brite could be used to make designs that you could quickly erase and then create new designs over and over and over again. While my designs were usually a simple butterfly or maybe a happy face, some people have used the Lite-Brite to create some seriously stunning artwork.
Are ‘90s kids better pet owners than kids from other generations? I don’t know. But if we are, we have the Tamagotchi to thank for that. The name comes from the Japanese word for “Watch Egg” because that’s exactly what it was: a little egg keychain that you had to watch constantly or else your virtual pet would die.
Yes, this was a toy that allowed children to foster an emotional connection to a pixelated animal and then feel the pain of loss if they let it die. It’s definitely pretty strange, but I suppose it teaches kids an important lesson about pet care.
Unlike real life, though, if your pet died (which could happen by neglecting it or simply due to old age), you could spawn an entirely new virtual companion simply by pressing two buttons at the same time. The Tamagotchi wasn’t the only virtual pet toy, however.
Tiger Electronics released a toy called the Giga Pet that was a couple bucks cheaper. If your parents skimped out on you and bought you a Giga Pet instead of a Tamagotchi, you didn’t miss out on much. The two toys were pretty much exactly the same thing.
Moon Shoes were the shining example of how things always look way better in commercials than they actually are in real life. The commercials would show kids looking essentially weightless, bouncing several feet into the air with massive smiles on their faces.
I got some Moon Shoes for Christmas one year and, let me tell you, that was not the reality. Wearing Moon Shoes was like strapping two buckets of quicksand to your feet. I believe that I could actually get further off the ground while not wearing Moon Shoes than when I had them on.
Even though the execution of this toy’s design left a lot to be desired, they still enjoyed a ton of popularity, probably because of those misleading commercials.
The idea was pretty awesome. Personal trampolines for your feet? What kid wouldn’t want that? Did the fact that they didn’t work for me have something to do with the fact that I was particularly hefty as a child? Perhaps, but chubby kids want to fly, too.