Holiday Toy Throwback: Popular Gifts of the 90’s

We love history, of course, and a look at the toys of the 1990s reminds us that history isn’t always long ago. We are taking a trip down memory lane this holiday season and reminiscing on many of the most popular toys of the decade.  

Beanie Babies – Need we say more? Perhaps the biggest craze of the 90’s, Beanie Babies were LIFE. Kids of all ages (we are calling you out, adults) became obsessed with these cute little pellet-stuffed animals. At the height of the fad, people would sell Beanie Babies for as much as ten-fold on eBay. In fact, at one point Beanie Babies made up 10% of all eBay’s sales. There is even a “Blackie” the bear Beanie Baby on display at the National Museum of American History. 

Super Soaker – When Nerf guns evolved into the Super Soaker, 90’s kids went crazy, and there was nothing better than a summer water fight with your neighborhood friends. Did you know? The first Super Soaker went on sale in 1990 and was originally called the “Power Drencher.”

Super Nintendo – Kids around the world were totally psyched when the original Nintendo advanced to the Super version. Although it originated in Japan, Super Nintendo and other gaming systems quickly made their way to America. This game console war ensued during the early 90’s as the world of video games grew like wildfire and hasn’t stopped since.

Tamagotchi – This was another Japanese creation that quickly became one of the most popular toys in the world. For kids who maybe didn’t have a real cat, dog, or gerbil, this was the first virtual, handheld pet to care for. Cries were heard around the country when kids would forget to feed or clean up after their Tamagotchis.

Talkboy and Talkgirl – Kevin McAllister in Home Alone 2 made the Talkboy one of the most in-demand toys of the decade. He even showed us how to use the voice recorder/manipulator to pull off ultimate pranks like checking-in to the Plaza Hotel in New York City as a nine-year-old.

Bop It – 90’s kids’ brains still hurt from this fast-paced, mind-twisting game.  Bop it! Twist it! Pull it! Can you feel the pressure? Just for fun, please enjoy this very 90s commercial.

Polly Pocket – What was it with miniature things in the 90’s? Polly and all her accessories fit in our pockets, and we proudly carried her everywhere we went. So did all of our friends…and their friends…Polly overload!

Pogs – Ahhh, sweet memories of Pogs being confiscated by middle-school teachers around America. Snacks weren’t the only things being traded at lunchtime. Pog collections somehow became a status-symbol and somehow the simplicity of flipping those things around was so. much. fun. Did you know? The name Pog originates from a type of juice made of passionfruit, orange, and guava. The juice bottle caps were used to play the game before the game’s commercialization.

Anything Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers – Seriously, anything. There were so many different kinds of action figures, games, etc. featuring the TMNTs and Power Rangers in the 90’s. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle characters began in comic books, and the Power Rangers of course began as a live-action superhero TV series. Both of these franchises are still incredibly popular today. Turtle power!

Easy Bake Oven – Ding! The original Easy Bake was introduced in 1963, but it didn’t gain massive popularity until it was re-produced by Hasbro in 1993. Who cares if the cakes and brownies that emerged from this mini oven were…not the best? So much fun was had baking in the Easy Bake Oven. So much so in fact, the miniature plastic oven was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2006.

Furby – Those poor parents trying to get their hands on a Furby during Christmas of 1998. And those poor parents who had to listen to Furby’s barely distinguishable mumblings on repeat in the following weeks. Over 40 million Furby’s were sold in the first three years of its production, and its speaking function was translated into 24 different languages! Furby’s were all the rage…until we all realized how irritating they really were.

Interested in other toys that will lead you down a rabbit hole of sweet memories from the 90s and all the decades before them? Check out the Smithsonian Institution’s collection of vintage toys, games and puzzles.

Article written by Nikki Fabrizio

Nikki Fabrizio
Nikki creates content and enjoys highlighting the exuberance of experiential learning. In her free time you can find her traveling, hiking and practicing circus arts.
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