Imagine this: it’s Christmas Eve 2004. You are snuggled up in your favorite cozy pair of pajamas, watching a holiday movie on your family’s 40-pound box TV, drinking a warm mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows. You can hardly contain your excitement, as you know tomorrow morning you will have fabulous presents containing all the coolest toys. That night, you can’t sleep, only thinking about what is waiting for you under the tree.
The holidays have always been a joyous time of the year for children. Before the digital revolution and the surge of technology, kids got plastic toys for presents instead of iPhones and tablets. Our generation was one of the last to receive these gifts, so let’s look back on a few of the coolest toys from our childhood.
1995 – Beanie Babies
Back in the 90’s every store you went to had at least one shelf full of Beanie Babies. From their low price, to their adorable appearance, to their unique one-of-a-kind identification, everyone loved them! Adults and children alike had collections of Beanie Babies. One couple who went through a divorce even split up their Beanie Babies collection in front of a judge to make sure that it was fair and equal. Every Beanie Baby had a unique name and birthday that was displayed on the iconic “TY” tag. Chances are, if you were born during this time, your parents probably purchased the Beanie Baby that had the same birthday as you! If you had Beanie Babies, you were definitely one of the cool kids on the block, and in 1995, Beanie Babies were the most popular toy to get for kids that year. If you still have any Beanie Babies, hopefully you kept the TY tag on them, because once that is ripped off, they automatically lose half their value.
1997 – Tamagotchi
If your parents would never let you get a dog, Tamagotchis were the perfect digital pet. Compact and portable, these egg-shaped devices were easy to carry around with you, which was convenient especially with the constant attention your Tamagotchi needed. Regardless of how many times your Tamagotchi died, it was still the coolest thing to have these colorful eggs attached to your backpack so you could show off to all your friends. During the holiday season of 1997, Tamagotchi was the most popular gift to receive. In 2007 “Tamagotchi: The Movie” was released and in 2013 Tamagotchi made its way to the digital world with an app that’s still running today.
1998 – Furby
First introduced in 1998, rumor has it that one Furby was auctioned off for $300 and was an instant hit. That holiday season, more than 27 million Furbies were sold. Afterwards, Furby came out with special edition Furbies to look like Yoda, Gremlins, and even E.T. With sensors located in the eyes, Furby was able to interact with people, which was a new technology at the time, making it the legendary toy it has become today. However, in 1999 the National Security Agency banned Furbies from offices located in Fort Meade. The NSA believed that Furbies could learn English overtime, and therefore were spies. The president of Tiger Electronics, Roger Shiffman, released an official statement that Furbies could not record or play back messages and that they were not spies. Since then, Furby has gotten several makeovers the latest one being in 2012 where there was also an iOS app to go along with it.
2002 – FurReal Cat
Another popular toy in the robotic pet industry was the FurReal Cat, Lulu. The first in the FurReal line, Lulu was an adorable white cat that came with a brush and when you petted her, she would purr and make kitty noises. If your parents never let you have a real cat, Lulu was a great substitute, although not as squishy as a real cat. Now days, Lulu has been retired and replaced with other FurReal pest such as dinosaurs, unicorns, bears, elephants, and many more. FurReal pets are still as popular toady as when Lulu first appeared under Christmas trees in 2002.
2003 – Robosapiens
Continuing with the robotics trend, Robosapiens were the hit toy for the Christmas season of 2003. With over 1.5 million toys sold that year, Robosapiens were found in every household. This robotic toy came with a controller that could make the toy perform 67 different commands. In the 2005 Germany Open, three teams of Robosapiens played the very first match of soccer between humanoid robots. Then, in 2007 Robosapiens got a makeover to look like Spider-Man and Homer Simpson. There is a mini-Robosapien and a Wow-wee Robosapien still available for purchase today.
2004 – Nintendo DS
One of the most memorable toys from our generation’s childhood is the Nintendo DS. Released in 2004 it was a huge upgrade from its predecessor, the Game Boy. With two screens, it’s like this handheld device came straight from the future and landed under your Christmas tree. Since 2004 the Nintendo DS has had a few upgrades, evolving to the Nintendo DS Lite, the Nintendo DSi, the Nintendo 3DS, the Nintendo 2DS, and now the Nintendo Switch. Each model has their own unique feature that upgraded the system, but nothing will ever be as revolutionary as the original Nintendo DS.