This whole being an adult thing isn’t easy, is it? School may have set us up with a working knowledge of times tables, Pythagoras and the story of the first Thanksgiving, but what about everything else?
Adulthood tends to hit you like that time the Hulk threw Superman into the Sun. How do we get by? Mostly through a carefully regimented program of Netflix binges, too much coffee, and too little sleep. It can be rough out here in 2019.
On the plus side, when it comes to toys, we’ve got two very important weapons in our arsenal. The first is nostalgia. So many of the toys from our own childhoods, from Weebles to Mr. Potato Head and everything in between, are still in production in some fancy modernized form or other. Sometimes, we get warm, fuzzy feelings just seeing them online or on store shelves.
The second comforting thought we have to lean on? Technology is galloping forwards at an alarming rate. For us and our children, this means toys that are sometimes so much cooler than anything we used to have.
To celebrate both of these things, let’s take a look at some of the 90s toys you fondly remember that are still available, along with some modern Millennials’ alternatives. There’s something here for every price range, so hop on board with us and check them out.
20 The 90s: The Tamagotchi Mini
There’s nothing quite like a milestone birthday to make you feel about seven times older than you actually are, is there? There’s a kind of tragic irony in that.
Even worse, sometimes, is the milestone anniversary of the release of a product you loved back in your childhood. For many of us, that would be the Tamagotchi. All around the world, people of a certain age remember the release of this humble little virtual pet. That’s right, the Tamagotchi is over twenty years old.
To celebrate, you can nab yourself a Tamagotchi Mini, a model based on the toy’s classic design from the 90s.
19 Millennials: Thor Vs Thanos Funko Pop
If you’ve seen The Avengers: Infinity War (which most sentient beings in the solar system have, you know how it goes with Marvel movies), you’ll know that Thanos is one heck of a tough cookie. There are some climactic battles in this one, friends.
Similarly, if you’re familiar with the Funko Pop figure range, you’ll know that absolutely nothing and nobody in pop culture is safe. Naturally, there are lots of figures from Marvel and the MCU, but this Thor vs Thanos Movie Moments special is particularly nice. Perfectly stylised, ultimately spoiler-free, what’s not to like? Snap it up, figure-collecting faithful.
18 The 90s: Guess Who?
If we hadn’t already used the guess who’s back, back again, joke, this would’ve been the perfect place for it. We’ve already touched on classic board games like Monopoly, but for many of us, Guess Who? Has always been where it’s at.
You know how this Hasbro classic works. You each had a board full of people and one mystery character. You take turns to ask the other player questions (are they wearing glasses, say), whittling down the choices and hoping you’re able to guess their mystery character before they guess yours.
It’s an absolutely iconic formula, and the Hasbro original edition available now will be just as you remember it.
17 Millennials: LEGO Harry Potter Great Hall Building Kit, $99.95
LEGO is a brand that needs no introduction. One of the biggest and most popular toy brands on the planet, the range has expanded a millionfold in recent years. Big franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter have been relentlessly LEGO-ified in different kits and playsets, and most of them have more pieces than a lot of us would ever have the patience to put together.
On the subject of Harry Potter, Hogwarts castle itself is far too elaborate, expensive and rare as a LEGO kit. The Great Hall Building Kit is all of these things too, but scaled down to a more manageable level. If you’re a Potterhead who wants to take a shot at more advanced LEGO construction with diving in too deep, this 878-brick kit may be just the thing.
16 The 90s: Bop It!
Bop It! is another of the classic games that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s no dastardly, family-harmony-ruining scheming, as you’ll find in games like Monopoly. Bop It! is a party game that’s designed around one key concept: making everybody laugh and look as silly as possible.
It’s quite remarkable how little the core game itself has changed. The unit calls out particular commands (Whip it, Drink it, Selfie it, Hammer it, Answer it, Cradle it, Saw it, Sing it, Golf it, and Comb it, in this new edition), faster and faster, and the player does their best to keep up with them.
It’s a tried and tested recipe for fun and embarrassment in equal measure, and that’s really all you can ask of a party game like this.
15 Millennials: What Do You Meme?
If the internet has taught us anything of late, it’s that Millennials live and breathe memes. It’s the way we communicate, the way we express ourselves. Remember when people used to have conversations? It was like living in the Dark Ages, wasn’t it?
Today, every self-respecting internet user needs to have a solid meme game. They need to be fluent in these things, adapt to the coming of new memes and the abandonment of tired ones.
What Do You Meme? is the perfect game to test your prowess. It plays similarly to Cards Against Humanity, in which a different player judges each round and you’ve got to adapt your answer to that player’s preferences.
Also like Cards Against Humanity, there’s some rather adult content here, so watch out for that.
14 The 90s: Yomega — The Yo-Yo With The Brain
When it comes to classic toys, you just cannot keep the yo-yo down. This humble toy has existed for centuries (a vase from around the year 440 BC depicts a child playing with a terracotta yo-yo!), and even in our modern age of smartphones and tablets, it continues to endure.
It’s one of those things that will always come back into fashion. Back in the 90s, yo-yos were almost as popular as Pokémon in some places, but they were not all created equal.
What you want is a yo-yo that spins for a long time (the iconic ‘sleeper’ trick) and returns easily, which the more basic ones just could not do. Yomega’s ‘yo-yo with a brain’ sports a centrifugal clutch which makes it work super well, for first-timers and experienced users alike.
13 Millennials: Fingerlings, $10.99
As the parents among us know all too well, there’s a new must-have of the moment waiting for us every holiday season. Holidays are often derided for being super-commercialized, and these shenanigans from toy sellers everywhere really don’t help with that.
Recently, one of the biggest toys to arrive on the scene has been the Fingerlings range. The ever-popular concept of the toy robot taken to adorable extremes, these little collectibles grasp the owners’ finger koala-style and move and react in different ways.
There are cute unicorn Fingerlings (such as Mackenzie here), angry little dinosaur ones and everything in between.
12 The 90s: Beanie Babies
Speaking of adorable little toys that come in a huge range of different types, styles and species, let’s not forget that old 90s mainstay: Beanie Babies.
There was a time when a whole generation was convinced that these little plushies would be worth a bundle someday. True enough, some of them may be, depending on rarity, condition and just how darn much the seller wants them, but otherwise? It’s not really the case.
Regardless, though, there’s a reason that collectors everywhere went coo-coo for these things. They’re as super sweet as they ever were, and look great on display. Why not check out this three-pack of Franklin, Harper, and Catcher, if you’re looking to start a collection or add a trio of adorable dogs to your own?
11 Millennials: Star Wars 2-Slice Toaster
What does Darth Vader have for breakfast? No, we don’t have a particular punchline in mind for that one (we really should’ve thought this through), but it’s a neat little segue into our next fantastic product for Millennials.
The Star Wars franchise is suddenly a huge deal again. The likes of The Force Awakens has brought a new generation of fans into the fold, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Whether you’ll ever subject the younger fans in your life to Jar Jar Binks and the prequel trilogy is up to you, but who could possibly object to this fantastic Star Wars toaster? Nobody, that’s who.
10 The 90s: Play-Doh Barber Shop
Ah, the old classic Play-Doh Barber Shop.
As we know, this stuff has an incredible habit of getting into the rug, in children’s hair, on their clothes, just about anywhere you could probably do without having it. The Play-Doh Barber Shop was created as a way of harnessing that ability to go everywhere and make something constructive out of it.
The great thing about this toy is that it’s so low-tech. it’s good old-fashioned fun, and you don’t often get a lot of that these days. not without a screen attached, anyway.
9 Millennials: FurReal Munchin’ Rex
Children have always loved dolls. They’re probably the oldest and most enduring toys in the history of… toys. As with the ancient terracotta yo-yo, though, dolls have changed dramatically from the primitive ones our ancestors enjoyed.
Here in the brave and futuristic new world of 2019, we’ve got dolls like the FurReal series. The Munchin’ Rex has some impressive tech inside its little body, allowing it to beg for treats, make realistic dino-sounds (well, realistic might not be the right word here) and interact with its accessories and owner in a variety of ways.
Dinosaurs are another of our childlike fascinations that will never go away, and this is the sort of toy that will never go out of style.
8 The 90s: The Slinky
So, we’ve covered yo-yos, Tamagotchis, Beanie Babies… is there another iconic toy from our childhoods that deserves a mention? You’d better believe there is. That’s right, friends, the slinky is back. Back again. Tell a friend.
This is no time for awkward shoehorned Eminem references, because we’ve got to pay due deference to another beloved classic. Many of us struggled to get the slinky to work as smoothly as it did in the commercials, but when it marched down those stairs in one continuous motion… it was just a beautiful thing to behold.
Like all the best-returning toys, it’s an incredibly simple concept, but just mesmerizing to watch. Nab yourself this bargain triple-pack of original brand metal Slinkys (accept no imitations!), and remind yourself just how timeless these things are.
7 Millennials: Hatchimals HatchiBabies Hatching Egg
The Hatchimals brand is another that’s experienced a real boom in recent years, and it’s not hard to see why. The little characters are adorable, they’re interactive (the HatchiBabies models can be ‘taught’ to play peek-a-boo and such), and there’s the added surprise of hatching the egg and seeing which one you’ll get.
The best thing about the HatchiBabies, in particular, is that you’re able to choose the species (either Cheetree, pictured here, Chipadee or Ponette), eliminating the disappointment of getting one that you already have (a very frequent complaint with blind-boxed toys).
As with a lot of newfangled Millennials’ toys, it’s quite a sophisticated little thing too, capable of learning and developing more behaviors and animations as you bond with it. You can also feed it and brush its hair, just like a real baby!
6 The 90s: Top Trumps
Here’s another great playground toy that wears its 90s nature on its sleeve. The much-beloved Top Trumps card game has changed very little over the decades, still super popular for hitting all the right notes for a children’s card game: it’s easy to understand, fun to play and doesn’t drag on.
Players simply take turns to read one of the stats of their particular card (Speed: 36, for instance), they each compare that same stat, and the highest number ‘trumps’ (and wins) the other card(s). Rounds are played in this way until one player wins the game by having all the cards.
While the game’s still largely unchanged today, the range of different themed decks has grown and grown. If you want to get started or just relive a classic again, the Predators deck is a great --and educational-- place to start.
5 Millennials: Robosapien Blue
As we’ve already seen, robot toys are nothing particularly special to children these days. A whole generation is growing up in the midst of our electronics-centric world, and they’re incredibly tech-savvy from a very early age as a result.
With all of this in mind, what’s so special about WowWee’s Robosapien? Well, unlike the primitive, bleepy-bloopy toy robots of the 90s, this little guy has a little personality, a little style. As Amazon reports, it was designed by a NASA scientist, and is a good deal more sophisticated than you might think.
It has multiple speeds for walking and running, interactive sensors and can rap and fart! This 14-inch-tall model is Robosapien Blue, an upgrade over its predecessor.
4 The 90s: The Hot Focus Peace Secret Diary
So many 90s children will remember this one: the secret, locked journal. Quite what secrets a fifth-grader might have that would warrant a diary with a lock on it, we never quite knew, but there it is. We don’t question these things, we just roll with them.
In this electronic age, not many people tend to keep a journal anymore. It’s becoming a bit of a lost art, and that’s such a shame. The Hot Focus Peace Secret Diary is as retro as it comes, sporting a neat design and a handy little lock mechanism. Check it out; a little journal-writing is good for the soul.
3 Millennials: Melissa & Doug Wooden Chef Play Kitchen
Well, dang. As we’ve seen, some things really don’t change at all. There’s not a lot you can do to modernize a Slinky, for instance, is there? It is what it is, it’s a design classic, and that’s the way it’s staying.
On the other hand, though, there are some toys that are far more sophisticated than anything we saw in the 90s. Yes, we’ve all played pretend chef within a pretend kitchen with pretend kitchen utensils, but the Melissa & Doug Wooden Chef Play Kitchen is a whole new ball game.
As Amazon reports, this pricey prop comes complete with a working ‘ice’ dispenser (no, that’s not real ice, but still), as well as a sense of style that wouldn’t look out of place in an up-market kitchen. Now that’s interior decorating.
2 The 90s: With Furby — We All Win
Now, we all have mixed feelings about Furbies. For some of us, they’re super cute and beloved toys from yesteryear. For others, they’re kinda creepy?
However you feel about them, it’s impossible to deny that the Furby range has played a huge part in the recent history of toys.
While the spirit of the original model lives on, Furbies look a little different these days. The Furby Connect Friend, as the name implies, interacts with the Furby Connect World app, which is just a fancy way of ‘learning’ new words, behaviors and animations as Furbies always have.
1 Millennials: Fortnite Action Figure Pack, $39.97
If you’ve even dabbled in video games lately, you’ll know that there are certain heavyweight titles just dominating everybody’s playtime. Apex Legends has quickly risen to be a real powerhouse, the on-going debate about Anthem continues, and then there’s the phenomenon that is Fortnite.
Fortnite is more of an interactive hunk of pop culture than it is a mere video game. It’s just absolutely everywhere. It’s generation-defining.
Inevitably, then, merchandise from the game is a huge deal just now. Avid players are sure to appreciate the Fortnite Squad Mode Core Figure Pack A, which includes action figures of four of the game’s most popular skins: Cuddle Team Leader, Brite Bomber, Ragnarok and Rex.
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