The 1990s were a great decade for toys. While kids these days are increasingly playing with high-tech electronics like iPods and iPhones, us kids of the 90s happily made do with devices that were much less technologically advanced. These are ten memorable and amazing toys from the 1990s.
Released in 1992, Nickelodeon sold Gak to millions of kids based purely on the idea that it "made a fart noise when placed into its tube." While kids loved this idea (and also the squishy feeling of the simulated slime itself), Gak found its way into too many carpeted floors to garner a coveted parental seal of approval. Gak innovations throughout the years include glow-in-the-dark Gak, color-changing Gak and "Smell My Gak" – slime that was scented to smell like pickles, hot dogs and other foul abominations.
Though the Ninja Turtles got their start in the 1980s, it wasn't until the release of the first TMNT movie in 1990 that the franchise really took off. As one of the most popular action figures lines of the 1990s, us kids were scrambling to complete our sets with Casey Jones, Bebop, Rock Steady and other lesser-known characters. Of course, there were also classic high-end toys like the turtles van that shot spinning pizzas out of it. Cowabunga!
While there are now dozens of Super Soaker water guns, the whole toy line began with one simple pump-action gun that was released in 1991. Sure, every kid has one of these high-powered water pistols nowadays, but when they were new one of these bad boys was a sure way to obliterate your friends who were still packing old-school point-and-shoot models.
Virtual pets got their start in the 1990s, and Tamagotchi was a major player in the business. While the idea of hatching a digital egg and taking care of it so it can "grow up" healthy and happy sounds a little odd, it proved a major hit for us 90s kids. In a big way, Tamagotchi serves as predecessor to more sophisticated games such as The Sims and Nintendogs.
Hey kids, who wants to draw a bunch of rounded geometric shapes!? Yes, Spirograph has been around since the 1960s, but still enjoyed fair popularity during the 1990s. With its assortment of plastic gears and simple use, the Spirograph made the mathematics of spiral art easy and fun enough to hold a kid's interest. Sadly, in the world of digital design, the popularity of the Spirograh has dropped considerably.
In the 1990s, it quickly became very uncool to be the kid rolling around on a pair of classic quad skates. Suddenly, everyone wanted that cool inline look that mimicked the appearance of actual ice skates. Who can forget rolling around on these bad boys while playing a competitive game of street hockey with friends? After all, we've all got the knee and elbow scars to remind us.
Sometimes, simplicity is the key to a toy's success. Really nothing more than a bunch of rubber filaments radiating from a soft core, these balls first dropped in the late 1980s. However, their popularity continued in the 1990s, and gave every kid a nice item that he could chuck at his little sister without getting in trouble.
Pogs was one of the biggest fad games of the 1990s. Every kid in every school across the country meticulously grew their collection and tried out different slammers to ensure maximum winning. Unfortunately, much like the slap bracelet and Trapper Keeper before it, the Pog proved too cool for school, and was eventually banned in most school districts across the country.
Magic is the O.G. when it comes to collectible card games. When these cards hit shelves in 1993, it gave Dungeons and Dragons geeks a whole new game to play. Complete with strategy and role-playing elements, it was easy to get sucked into this super competitive card game. While still played today, the game's popularity definitely peaked in the mid 90s.
The Pokemon franchise is arguably the most successful to come out of the 1990s. While everything from plush toys and video games were created, the most nostalgia-inducing Pokemon offering is probably the trading card game. Released in America in 1998, this Magic copycat allowed Poke Trainers to pit their collection of Pokemon against each other in the real world.
With the release of the SNES, Nintendo gaming technology doubled to an AMAZING 16-bits. Of course, the number of controller buttons also doubled, and us kids were transfixed in front of the TV screen for good. Classic SNES games included Donkey Kong Country, Street Fighter II, Star Fox and F-Zero. It was also the first console to feature a Super Mario Kart game.
The 90s were a big decade for video games. Other consoles that are obviously worth mentioning include the Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64 and Playstation.
Originally published on February 16, 2011.