Words by Holly Liptak
Tamagotchi– Released in 1996 (1997 for the US), the handheld digital creature was yours to love and care for (as much love and care you could give a tiny digital creature from outer space). The egg-shaped device came on a keychain and was equipped with three buttons and a small screen. When it first hatched, the creature needed constant attention. Constant games to fill the happy meter, food to satisfy the hunger meter and the creature had to be potty trained. As their life went on however, the Tamagotchi didn’t need as much attention and were able to function with less help from their owner. When tamagotchis were first released, they cost about $17.99, while now, originals can reach up to $130 on Amazon.
Pros: Teaches the responsibility of owning a pet without owning a pet
Cons: Can become highly distracting
Moon shoes– Marketed as a “kid powered anti-gravity device”, Moon shoes, created by Big Time Toys, was the first toy to utilize miniature trampolines on the feet. The plastic purple platform shoes attached to your everyday shoes (Earth Shoes, if you will) with Velcro, and then allowed you to bounce, skip and jump to your heart’s content. The shoes were originally introduced in the 1950’s, made of metal, and their anti-gravity effect was the result of two large springs attached to the bottom. Needless to say, people were more willing to try the later release. Moon shoes currently run for about $50 on Amazon, and to anyone who grew up with them, they’ll always be out of this world.
Pros: Lessens the feeling of the earth’s gravitational pull
Cons: Increases the risk of twisted ankles and hitting head on the ceiling fan
Skip it – Originally created in the 1980’s, this toy was simply designed and simply a big hit. Skip Its design consisted only of a plastic hoop attached to a rope with a ball at the end of it. The toy looped around one of your ankles and as you spun it around you could hop over the rope, thus getting kids off the couch and outside to play. In 1996, the toy got an upgrade that pulled it out of the ‘80s and pushed it into the 90’s. Manufacturers added a counter to the side of the ball which would count the number of times the toy would swing in a full circle. This new design motivated kids to play with Skip It even more, pushing them to try to beat their high score and challenge their friends. In the following years, Skip It came out with many new models with the additions of ribbons, lights, new colors and even sounds, but no amount of glitter or flashing lights could take away the pain of a Skip It ball to the ankle.
Pros: Tricks kids into getting outside and exercising while still having fun
Cons: Won’t work on grass, carpet, gravel, or really anything other than concrete
Furby– This strange robotic toy, somehow resembling both a bird and a hamster was initially introduced by Tiger Electronics in 1998. Furbies, when you first took them home, only knew their first language, Furbish, but as their life went on, they would begin speaking English, as if they had learned it from their owner. Each Furby also had its own unique eye color and voice pitch, giving the toy a more personalized feel. After the initial success of the ’98 Furby line, Hasbro continued to make and sell the toys and their latest release was in 2016. As Furbies grew extremely popular with audiences all over the US, the toy worried members of the National Security Agency and was banned from NSA spaces as they believed Furby’s ability to record words posed a threat to national security.
Pros: It never dies
Cons: It never dies
Easy-Bake Oven– Originally introduced in 1963, but perfected and produced by Hasbro in 1993, The Easy-Bake Oven allowed kids to bake cakes and other treats under the heat of a 100-watt incandescent light bulb. The kit came complete with a pack of cake mix, to which you just add water, small cake pans, a few utensils and of course, the oven. When it came out in 1993, The Easy-Bake was colored pink, leading people to believe that it was strictly marketed towards girls, while the 2003 edition had a neutral color scheme in order to appeal to both boys and girls. Easy-Bake continues to sell ovens today and in 2006 it was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. Many kids long awaited the day an Easy-Bake would be theirs, but often after the first cake was gone, so was the excitement.
Pros: As it was made by you, it was the best cake you’d ever had
Cons: Only one cake mix included