Ask any child of the 90s and they’ll tell you they have a huge amount of nostalgia for the decade. The 90s gave us some of the greatest music, television, cinema, and gaming experiences we can remember, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of the decade was inarguably its toy selection. It was easy to walk into any toy store as a child and feel completely entranced by the sheer amount of options on offer. Some of those toys are still available today, while others have sadly fallen out of production, but that doesn’t mean we can’t remember them. Here are some of the best 90s toys we should all keep in our minds forever.
It’s impossible to think about toys in the 90s without remembering the Tamagotchi. This Japanese toy was a primitive digital pet that you needed to feed and tend to; it could change form, eat various different types of food, and change mood depending on how much or little attention you were paying to it. Back in 2019, Tamagotchi toys made a comeback, and it’s not hard to see why; they were simplistic toys with low-resolution screens, but they were incredibly compelling despite (or perhaps even because of) their simplicity. Fun fact: Tamagotchi toys are still being manufactured today, so in a sense, they never went away!
Betty Spaghetty’s unique look and incredible range of customisable outfits and hairstyles made this doll a must-own for anyone interested in switching up the look of their toys. If you look on popular auction and sale websites at any given time, you’ll find an absolute smorgasbord of dolls, accessories, and colourful add-ons, meaning that even if you missed out on this 90s phenomenon the first time around, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from experiencing it anew in 2021 or beyond. There was a unique punk appeal to Betty Spaghetty that went beyond the somewhat bland stylings of Barbie, so if you want a truly alternative-feeling toy, check it out.
Mouse Trap is less of a toy and more of a complete board game experience, but nothing screams 90s quite like this elaborate setup. In Mouse Trap, the objective of the game is to build the titular trap and corner the devious mouse. Players must take it in turns to move around the quintessentially zany 90s board, gathering bonuses and suffering setbacks as they go. Of course, if you didn’t want to play a full game, you could simply retrieve the pieces of the trap from the box and build it; there was a Zen-like satisfaction in doing so, even if you had no intention of following the actual rules. Fun fact: did you know Mouse Trap is based on the famous Rube Goldberg machines?
Again, it might be slightly unfair to confine Bop It to just the 90s; it’s still being manufactured today and enjoyed by kids around the world. It was originally intended as a riff on remote control devices, given that it’s essentially a small piece of plastic with a number of nonsensical functions that don’t actually do anything by themselves. However, Bop It quickly ascended beyond its humble origins to become an incredibly popular toy in the 90s, and it remains just as popular to this day, likely because people just like to watch other people do silly things. If you’ve never experienced the joy that is Bop It, we strongly recommend you try it out!
The Furby might be the very first toy on this list that really was a phenomenon of the 1990s. Of course, Furby is still being made today – after all, everything from the 90s is always going to enjoy enduring popularity thanks to nostalgia – but the toy’s true heyday was in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Furby was a unique proposition; it began life speaking a completely made-up language, but began using English phrases as time went on, making it feel like your Furby was organically learning the language. If you do manage to find one now, don’t worry – they’re not actually able to repeat words they hear around them. This was just one of many urban myths surrounding Furbies in the 1990s.
Alright, so we’re cheating a little bit here; the Slinky was actually invented back in the 1940s, so it’s not really a 90s toy. However, it was massively popularised when 1995’s Toy Story included a Slinky Dog character, and since that movie led to an increase in toy sales across the board, we’re including it here. The Slinky was designed as an inexpensive toy that any child could buy and enjoy; even after its original inventor died, his wife insisted on keeping the price of the toy low because she wanted every child to be able to buy and play with it regardless of background. That’s a mission we can all get behind!
Last, but certainly not least, we want to pay tribute to the almighty Super Soaker. This neon plastic water gun was the weapon of choice for every summer water fight; it looked cool and futuristic (for a kids’ toy, anyway), and the range of different models and types available meant that you’d always be fighting with your friends over who got to use the latest and greatest Soaker. The TV ads for this one were incredibly high-octane, too, meaning that every time an ad break came on between cartoons, we’d inevitably go and bother our parents to buy us a Super Soaker. You can still get these, too, so why not recruit your whole street for a retro-style water fight this summer?