Any McGill student can argue that everything was better in the ‘90s. Toys “R” Us was still in business, and Britney—not Kendall—was the queen of Pepsi. In terms of toys, the best have come from that decade and the early 2000s, when Bop It, Mr. Potato Head, and those strange crocodilian finger puppets were essentials for every kid to own. To pay tribute to our childhoods, The McGill Tribune has created a list of the old classic toys that kept us entertained for hours.
Harbouring an eerie resemblance to Mogwais, the creatures in the 1984 Warner Brothers flick Gremlins, Furbies were the hottest toy on the market at the time of their release in 1998. Distributed by Hasbro, their pointed ears and squat, fuzzy bodies made them a cuddly gadget that all children needed to have. Even more exciting, the little creatures spoke Furbish, a made up language consisting of short syllables and simple sounds, and could even communicate with one another through an infrared port between their eyes. Between 1998 and 2001—the toy’s first three years on the market—over 14 million Furbies were sold at $35 a piece, making them one of the most popular toys of their day. Furbies’ 2018 descendent, the Furby connect, adds a new spin to the classic, lovable furby with the added ability of connecting to a digital world, similar to a neopet. Furby’s legacy, however, was tarnished when Furby connect was labelled one of multiple illegal espionage devices in 2017. A number of federal agencies claimed that the toy’s bluetooth connection may be subject to hijacking, allowing hackers to communicate with children playing with the toy.
The Japanese word Tamagotchi literally translates to “lovable egg”—and that they were. These digital pets that ‘90’s kids still remember fondly were originally released in 1996 by Japanese toy company Bandai, and hit American and European shelves in 1997. Tamagotchi pets lived inside of an egg-shaped, pocket-sized apparatus camouflaged as a keychain bobble. Long before the distraction of text-messages, Snapchats, and HQ Trivia notifications, the incessant beeping of a hungry Tamagotchi was the epitome of student distraction, causing many elementary schools to ban the toys in the ‘90s and early 2000s. To celebrate its fandom, Bandai America marked the 20th anniversary of the American release of the game on Nov. 15, 2017 with a miniature version of the original Tamagotchi. To students craving distraction and a chance to once again neglect their poor, hungry Tamagotchis, fear not: These little bad boys are still being sold, one only needs to scour the pages of Amazon to find them.
Although the iDog came out significantly later than Furbies and Tamagotchis, it deserves an honourable mention as one of the most entertaining accessories of the 2000s. If you weren’t jamming to your preteen tunes with your iDog in 2005, your millennial experience was not complete. Developed by Sega Toys, iDog was an electronic ‘musical companion’ for the millennial child that sold for about $35 in 2008. With an auxiliary port that connected to MP3 and iPod devices, this toy had an LED display that would light up and strobe in time to the device’s music. The iDog could ‘dance’ by cocking its head and flapping its awkward, plastic ears rhythmically. iDogs even had their own music-dependent personalities, displaying a spectrum of emotions based on their attitude toward the music played. The toy’s popularity eventually led to the creation of a clothing line of adorable iDog beanies, scarves, and slippers for decorating the devices. Though its successors, the iCat and the iFish, never found the success that the iDog did, these dancing robotic animals were a notable part of any sleepover.