Mental Floss

The Quick 10: 10 Toy Crazes

Stacy Conradt
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I don't have a kid (yet"¦ give me another five months or so), and I don't have any nieces or nephews or friends with kids over the age of three. So I'm not really understanding this whole Zhu Zhu thing. Apparently it's the must-have toy this year. That I understand. I was working retail when the Tickle Me Elmo craze was at its height. Time magazine has assembled a list of the Top Ten Toy crazes ever, and you'd better believe that giggly red Muppet makes the top five. Here's the whole list:

zhu
zhu /

2. Bratz Dolls.
The Year: 2001
The Toy: You thought Barbie was a bad influence? When Bratz entered the scene in 2001, they made Barbie look like she belonged on Little House.
The Enemy: Parents weren't crazy about them, finding their tight and revealing clothing and copious amounts of makeup, um, a little adult.

3. Furby.
The Year: 1998.
The Toy: This fuzzy robot (hmm"¦ sounds suspiciously like Zhu Zhu Pets) was appealing to kids because the toy could "learn" English. Part of the reason it was such a craze is that magazines were impressed with the toy's learning ability as well - Time itself was hyping up the gadget before it was even on the market after seeing it at a toy convention.
The Enemy: Katie Couric. Yeah, they talk, but they talk incessantly, irritating parents everywhere. While interviewing a representative from manufacturer Tiger on The Today Show, Couric snipped, "Can you get them to shut up now?"

tamagotchi
tamagotchi /

5. Tickle Me Elmo
The Year: 1996.
The Toy: A stuffed Elmo that LOLed infectiously.
The Enemy: Parents. Every kid wanted one of these and supply just did not meet demand. What went for $29 in stores was going for up to $2,000 online. Needless to say, a lot of parents had to disappoint their kids at Christmas that year.

beanie
beanie /

7. POGs.
The Year: 1995.
The Toy: Some cardboard disks with pictures printed on them. Really. But the variation in pictures meant that they were collectible, so of course people went nuts for them. The way you played POGs was kind of like marbles in that you could win the other player's POGs if you were playing for keeps.
The Enemy: Again, schools. Because you could potentially "win" POGs, some schools considered it gambling and banned the game from their grounds.

8. Cabbage Patch Kids.
The Year: 1983.
The Toy: Pudgy-faced dolls.
The Enemy: Garbage Pail Kids. After Cabbage Patch Kids came out and were such a hit, the Topps company parodied the wholesome dolls by creating a trading card featuring a very similar looking version that did terrible things and had names like "Adam Bomb." The Cabbage Patch people were not happy. They sued and settled out of court; Topps agreed to make their characters a little less Cabbage Patch-like.

9. Rubik's Cube.
The Year: 1980.
The Toy: C'mon, you know the Rubik's Cube.
The Enemy: People who are easily frustrated solving puzzles. I'm not going to name names, but I know this girl who peeled the colored stickers off and stuck them back on to act like she had solved the cube. The stickers' wrinkled edges, crooked placement and decreased stickiness were dead giveaways to my mom. I mean, her mom.

ROCK
ROCK /

What was your must-have toy of yesteryear? Mine was definitely a stuffed Fievel. I adored An American Tail and knew I would die, just absolutely die, if the young Mr. Mousekewitz didn't appear under our Christmas tree. Luckily, he did, and I still have him. Sure, he's missing his tail, his pants, his hat and 99% of the fuzz on his nose, but I still plan on passing him down to Baby Conradt in May. Maybe I'll sew him some new pants by then.

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