Now that the Christmas season has passed and the gifts have already been received, let’s take a nostalgic look at popular gifts through the years. During the 1990s, technology created all sorts of new gifts, but the most sought after toys were often refreshingly simple.
Tickle Me Elmo: It was the hot toy of the 1996 Christmas season. Squeeze Elmo’s stomach and he would vibrate and laugh. “Tickle Me Elmo Xtreme”, which also lies down and rolls around all on its own, was released ten years later.
Ty Beanie Babies: These simple plastic-pellet stuffed animals didn’t need TV commercials; they became a craze mostly through word-of-mouth, the news media, and internet exposure. The clever marketing strategy of frequently changes and “retiring” made certain Beanies worth hundreds of dollars.
Furby: A truly hi-tech toy for its time, Furby had light and motion sensors as well as hidden buttons that would react differently depending on what was done to it. The internet also had an influence on this fad; the original best-seller was the black-and-white model that was featured on the toy’s official website.
Tamagotchi or Giga Pets: Hailed as a way to teach kids’ about responsibility, they were banned in some schools for distracting the students. People often said they were more needy than a real pet, but many varieties still sell well today.
Nintendo 64: This commercial also shows you what minimum wage generally was during the decade. Ironically, a new Wii costs about a week’s wages now.
Playstation: Nintendo met its match with the newest gaming system on the market, the Sony Playstation.
The iMac G3: Now the personal computer came in different colors! It seems so simplistic, but Apple recently bragged about the multiple colors of their iPods in commercials.
Sony Discman: It was the decade when records and cassettes were pushed out by the compact disc.
The DVD player: DVD players and discs hit the US market in the late 1990’s, but were still considered too expensive for the average consumer until almost a decade later.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.