I’m just going to come out and say it: if you’re not a ‘90s kid, I feel bad for you. Boy, did we have it good. We kicked it in our OshKosh and pumped up light-up kicks, getting the pages of our Where’s Waldo sticky from the Dunkaroos our Moms begrudgingly let us steal from the pantry. We played rock, paper, scissors when we were indecisive; told our friends to “talk to the hand ‘cause the face ain’t listening” when we were peeved; and sent apology messages on our pagers when we were over it. We didn’t have Barbie apps or iPads, and we didn’t need to get the WiFi password before going ham on the kids’ menu. We were free to create, do, and be whatever we wanted, as long as the teacher said it was okay. And while it may have been a simpler time for technology, our childhoods still brimmed with excitement that kids today will never know. From Poo-Chi Pets to Walkmans, here are 25 of the best great-but-gone techy toys from my childhood. If you were born after the year 2005, quit while you’re ahead; you just won’t understand.
- Poo-Chi Interactive Pet
The Poo-Chi dog was first released in 2000 by Sega Toys, and was one of the first robopet toys on the market. If this bad boy didn’t make you popular on the playground, I don’t know what could have. Succeeded in swag but not in heart by Hasbro’s dancing i-Dog, launched in 2005.
- Girltech Password Journal
This high-tech diary locked when you closed it, only to be reopened when the rightful owner uttered the secret password. It was the only one who knew who I had a crush on that week…until the next game of truth or dare, of course. Currently, you can buy Password Journal 8 at your local Walmart, which makes me feel old. Eight generations old, to be exact.
‘90s technology at its finest, Lite-Brite allowed you to make a glowing picture by placing colored plastic pegs through opaque black paper. There were templates, but if you were cool, you freestyled it. TIME Magazine named Lite-Brite one of the top 100 toys of all time, and I support that.
- Crimping Irons
Before the waver had its heyday, there was the crimping iron. Lizzie McGuire used it, so obviously it was cool. It was the perfect way to get that fell-asleep-while-watching-Raven-and-slept-in-my-braids look that every pre-teen desired.
It was a life-changing experience going to Target and getting your first Tamagotchi. And then second. And third. Who knows why an egg-shaped piece of plastic with three buttons was so enthralling–we cleaned up its poop and watched it sleep, how was that fun?–but thank you Japan for bringing it into our childhoods.
- Hit Clips
In 1999, Tiger Electronics changed life as we knew it by introducing Hit Clips: tiny media players you could clip onto your backpack, belt loops, and beyond. Each Hit Clip played a one minute clip of a popular song, including absolute bangers like “Why Not” by Hilary Duff, and “I Want Candy” by Aaron Carter. They were mildly impractical, but Toys R Us was full of ‘em (RIP).
Far superior to the Hit Clip was the Walkman, the round, portable CD player dreams were made of. Because one Backstreet Boys song was never enough.
I’d be willing to bet that almost an entire generation of Nintendogs has run away from home at this point, and it truly breaks my heart. Released in 2005, Nintendogs was maybe the cutest game to ever grace the screen of the Nintendo DS. It was also the way that many parents got out of buying a real puppy for their kids on Christmas.
- Kid Pix
When your teacher brought the class to the school computer lab, the first thing everyone wanted to do was tear sh*t up on Kid Pix. It was revolutionary: every artist of the 1990s was born on Kid Pix and has it to thank for their creativity.
- Bop It
Twist it….pull it….flick it. There was no better way to test your hand-eye coordination and compete with your friends than with this handheld game. Personally, I owned the full-sized and keychain version.
- Carmen Sandiego
Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? She’s stuck in 1998, of course. For those who don’t remember, Carmen Sandiego was a series of computer games designed to help children learn their geography, math, languages, and more. The purpose of the game was to find the villainous Carmen Sandiego, a thief stealing treasures from around the world. DM me if you ever found her, because I sure didn’t.
- Game Boy
The precursor to the XBox in that it was the original gaming device to annoy me because boys ignored me while they were playing it. First came the original Game Boy, then Game Boy Color (yes, we were really alive when video games were black and white), and then Game Boy Advance, which hit the market in 2001. Pokemon, Tetris, and Super Mario Brothers were some classic games to see on Game Boy screens in pediatrician waiting rooms.
- Walkie Talkies
Walkie Talkies were the OG devices to figure out where your friends were. Perfect while skiing, at amusement parks, and even just to chat with the neighbor across the street.
- Easy Bake Oven
When mom wouldn’t let you bake cookies in the real oven, there was always the trusty Easy Bake. Half toy, half safety-oven, the Easy Bake came packaged with cake mixes and pans, ready for a bake-sesh minus the heat burns. Originally introduced in 1962, Hasbro still produces the Easy Bake Oven to this day.
- Power Wheels Jeeps
Power Wheels created miniature Jeeps for the adventurous child in all of us that wanted to drive their dad’s car, but was unfortunately licenseless. There were multiple versions: Hot Wheels, Jeep Wrangler, and, of course, a pink Barbie whip for the ladies. If you didn’t try to run over your sibling with one of these, we led very different lives.
If you lived like Lizzie and wrote about your Gordo crush in your password journal, I’m sure a few of these items struck a chord. The nostalgia is real for me, and I thank my lucky stars I grew up in the era I did. Think about it, there’s a reason why mom jeans are making a comeback… the ‘90s were the glory days and there’s no denying it. So here’s to the ‘90s babies: may we raise our own kids as cool as the ‘90s raised us. See ya, WiFi.