If you managed to snag a Hatchimal as a Christmas gift this year, you are one lucky son of a gun. Hatchimals are the toy fad for Christmas 2016. Parents are paying big bucks to make sure they aren’t the ones to crush their little cherub’s dreams come Christmas morning. I’m not even exactly sure what they are – maybe the love child of a Tamagotchi and a Furby with the added bonus of arriving in shell which makes them virtually worthless once the shell is broken.
Throughout the years the toys may have changed, but that manic, pre-Christmas rush to get your hands on one has been around for a long, long time. How many of these do you remember coveting? Or trading your soul on the black market for?
Must Have Toys From the 80s and 90s
Built by Hungarian, Ernő Rubik, the Rubik’s Cube was THE accessory of the 80s. If you find them impossible, well the inventor himself took over a month to solve the first one. There are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 ways to solve the puzzle and the current world record is just 4.74 seconds – Justin Beiber can do it in under 2 minutes!
Lego is still one of the coolest toys around and in 1981 everyone was losing their minds over the Lego Train Set. Fun fact – Lego is the world’s biggest manufacturer of tyres – they’ve manufacturers more than twice that of other major tyre manufacturers including Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear! Just tiny, little tyres.
1982 was a great year. The Commodore 64 was released, along with he first ever CD player from Sony. Olivia Newton John wanted everyone to get physical and the world was twitching to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Oh and yours truly was born – product of the 80s right here. And what was the must have purchase for Christmas that year? The BMX bike. My little newborn legs were obviously not up for cycling but I did own my very own BMX much later – with red padded covers on the bars and spokey dokes – it was my pride and joy.
I feel a little deprived never having owned one of these but in 1983, Cabbage Patch dolls were the toy of the year. Originally called Little People, these chubby-cheeked creeps had names like Hailey Theeuwen, Abigail Sarah and Otis Lee. Each came with a birth certificate, adoption certificate and a story of how the Cabbage Patch Kid came to be – if you don’t know the story check it out. I don’t know about you but I find it mildly disturbing.
Robots in disguise, Transformers, were the shizz. Again, I was a little late to the party but I remember being captivated by Optimus Prime and his Autobots in later years. I’m not sure how cool parent’s would be today with the original Megatron toy. He transformed in to an authentic looking Walther P-38 pistol. My how times have changed!
Who’s that coming from somewhere up in the sky? It’s the Care Bears! OK – confession time: I’ve always been a little terrified of Care Bears. I was certain they had the ability to travel through mirrors thanks to a movie I remember watching when I was very young. Turns out the movie was The Hugga Bunch. And after searching for it on YouTube, it is far creepier than I remember. Take a look for yourself here. Skip through to 1 minute in and be prepared for nightmares.
What kid didn’t want to adopt Cooler, Nose Marie, Whopper, Bright Eyes, Howler or Holly? In 1986 Every little boy and girl wanted to take home their very own Pound Puppy to cuddle while watching ALF or grooving to Bananarama’s Venus.
Who would have thought a small bundle of rubber strings would be the must have toy for 1987? The Koosh ball was supposedly named after the sound it made when you caught it. I’m not sure I remember the Koosh sound but I remember the horrible rubbery smell they left on your hands!
Nintendo Entertainment System – now this was a seriously sweet piece of kit. Check out this Fox News footage from 1988 where a live Ken doll crosses to a female reporter (with some odd footwear) who describes Super Mario Bros as being about “two moustachioed Italian janitors”.
I can’t say I ever caught on to the Game Boy phase but these little pocket computers were seriously hot back in the day. I think I must have been far too engrossed in the brand new cartoon series, The Simpsons, Saved by the Bell, Baywatch, Family Matters and Quantum Leap. 1989 was a good year for TV!
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature heavily in my early 90s memories. I had a TMNT lunchbox, I went with my cousins to see the stage show and I watched the TV show every day after school. Of course I always wanted to be April – luckily my best friend had loads of brothers who could fill in as the turtles. Or more likely, they would take on the role of Bebop and Rocksteady so they could kick the crap out of us.
Apparently, the must have toy of 1991 was “more grow-up” and “cooler” than the Game Boy – it was the SEGA Game Gear. Although, like the iPhone of today, it’s battery life was crap. Still – it was the gift that all the cool kids were begging their parents for in the year that signaled the start of 90s grunge – yip, the year that Nirvana released Nevermind. Are you feeling old yet?
Long before he was the star of a sex tape, Terry Bollea (or Hulk Hogan as he is better known) was the star of the WWF. If you had been a good little boy or girl, Santa might just have bought you your very own Hulk WWF Action Figure. Or maybe Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Or Andre the Giant. But you were out of luck if you wanted a female action figure – there were no women wrestler figurines made between 1986 and 1997.
The first ever Talkboy was made as a prop for the cheesy Christmas movie, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It was just like a normal tape deck but it had a snazzy microphone on the side and you could speed up or slow down the speed of the playback. Pretty high tech for the time.
If I was ever to be invited to join the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, it was to be as the pink Power Ranger or not at all. Who could resist those tight, lycra suits that covered from head to toe. Or the truly dodgy special effects. These action figures were flying off the shelves in 1994. They became so hard to get your hands on in the lead up to Christmas that there was a pretty lucrative Power Ranger black market, with parents paying up to 4 times the retail price to get their hands on a single action figure.
POGs are thought to have originated in Hawaii in the 1920s as Milk Caps. You have the milk cap and a slammer. You and your opponent each build the same size stacks with the your milk caps face-down then you throw your slammer down onto the top of the stack and the milk caps scatter. You get to keep any milk caps that land face-up. Any that are face-down are re-stacked for the next player. When no milk caps remain in the stack, the one with the most wins. It’s important to decide before you start if you’re playing for “keeps” or not.
The Haleakala Dairy in Hawaii sold a fruit drink called POG. The cap of the drink was popular for milk caps which eventually became know as POGs, after the drink. The Haleakala Dairy caught on to the popularity and helped form the World POG Federation. No longer a game of milk caps, POGs became serious business in the 90s. You could even get Power Ranger POGs in your Happy Meal at Maccas. How 90s is that?
Tickle Me Elmo was an unexpected success. In 1996 Tyco made just one million units of the little red monster who giggled and vibrated when tickled. All 1 million were sold out by the end of the year. There were even reports of altercations between customers trying to buy the red fluffy dolls for Christmas gifts. And in Canada, a Wal-Mart employee was injured by stampeding shoppers after being spotted carrying a box of them. Black market Elmos could reach up to $1,500. Madness!
Imagine finding a small alien egg which hatches to reveal a small, helpless creature. You need to feed it, clean it, play with it and general raise it as your own. If left for more than half a day you would find the clueless creature had died. That was 1997s must have, the Tamagotchi. One major problem – leave it home for the day while you’re at school and the poor thing would perish. So you pop it in your pencil case and make sure to care for it during class. You can bet teachers just loved having their class distracted by their alien spawn.
The Furby is a freaky, Gremlin-like creature that starts out speaking a weird, gibberish called Furbish – phrases like “wee-tah-kah-loo-loo” which means “tell me a joke”. Over time the Furby speaks less Furbish and seemingly learns English. There was a misconception that the Furby could repeat words and phrases it heard. Some intelligence agencies ended up banning people from bringing them to the office. 27 million Furbys were sold in 1998.
Pokemon was huge in 1999. If it was official Pokemon merchandise, kids everywhere wanted it: trading cards, Game Boy cartridges, dolls – the world was Pokemon made. Until we got closer to New Year’s eve, of course. Then we were simply obsessing over the Y2K bug.
I wonder what will come next in the fickle world of toy fads. Any ideas?