Those in their late 20s and early 30s will look back fondly at the games, toys and gadgets from their youth. These kids lived perfectly in the balance of enjoying playing outside and the beginning of the game console era. The 90s were awesome, and you can’t blame millennials for making purchases to get a little nostalgia.
A diverse and fascinating variety of products for kids emerged during the 90s, from the start of the tech boom to the simpler yet still fun gadgets that were available at that time.
When it comes to retro games, Bop It was the pinnacle, providing hours of fun. The game used audio prompts to command players to complete tasks of the game’s choice. This toy was the ultimate road trip game – it could be played alone or with friends.
Also, the game was tactically challenging, as you had to press buttons, pull handles, turn cranks, spin wheels and flick switches. Players would encounter increasingly difficult levels as they progressed.
The rise of Sony’s first console, the PlayStation, had incredible success, despite the already established competition from Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64. The PlayStation’s range of outstanding games helped massively, with titles such as Gran Turismo – a pioneer in the racing game market – and the game-turned-franchise Resident Evil. In addition to the extensive games library and what seemed an endless choice of popular franchises, the PlayStation was a much more affordable option than its competitors. Although it was the cheaper console, the graphics triumphed over the competitors on the market.
Nintendo 64 was the first game console to capture consumers’ attention during the 90s, inspiring a buying frenzy. Several games attributed to the Nintendo 64, such as Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – games that are often regarded as some of the best.
As one of the first consoles to use 3D graphics, the Nintendo 64 pioneered this area as well. Games with high ratings were abundant, whether they were from the Super Mario franchise or first-person shooters like GoldenEye 007, which contributed significantly to the development of the genre.
Receiving continued reference since its release, the Tamagotchi was a handful and the first insight into what it takes to own a pet of your own. Tamagotchi was a digital pet you needed to feed, water and care for to keep alive and in a good mood. Kids of all ages couldn’t wait to get their hands on their very own Tamagotchi through the 90s; they got all the fun of having a pet without having to clean up any actual mess. Children often developed a real connection to their Tamagotchi pet, getting addicted to looking after the pixelated creatures. As well as being fun, Tamagotchi taught kids a valuable lesson in responsibility.
One of the highlights of the 90s toy scene was Sky Dancers – the top of many Christmas lists through the 90s. The toy worked by pulling a string found on the base, which would propel the doll into the air and spin its wings. There was some notoriety for the dangers these toys could bring, but despite this, the popularity grew with these dolls even having their own animated show two years after their market release. This toy was so popular that it was released by Kmart in 2022.
Game Boy Color
The Game Boy Color was an updated version of the already popular handheld gaming system, the Game Boy. Like the original, this was a completely portable gaming system, but the Color greatly improved on its predecessor. The Game Boy Color came with a huge library of high-quality games along with improved screen clarity, making it easier for players to see the games they were playing. It would remain clear and have no motion blur on the screen, even in direct sunlight. A similar improvement was made to the Game Boy Color’s technical performance.
Although it seemed like an unlikely success, the release of the Furby took the 90s by storm. With many similarities to the 80s movie Gremlins, Furbies were furry little creatures that spoke their own language. When it came to the Furby, the biggest appeal for kids was how they interacted with people, pets and objects, acting as if they were living creatures. Kids could even try and teach their Furby things to do. The Furby has been regarded as the first successful attempt at creating and selling a domestically aimed robot.