Slinky’s are the ultimate nineties toy. They were cheap, they were everywhere, and you probably bought at least three of them over the course of the decade.
Why? Well, because they inevitably got tangled up the first time you tried to flip them or make them walk downstairs, and once that happened there was no recovering from it.
19. Betty Spaghetti
Dolls might seem like a pretty boring and generic toy, but you can tell a lot about a decade from the kind of doll that got popular during it.
For example, Betty Spaghetti had brilliant hair made of plastic strings that you could braid like a scoobie – and almost always came with rollerskates and hair beads. Those are basically the only three things you need to know about nineties preteen girl culture.
18. Silly Putty
Some toys you can look at and immediately understand why you used to like them, even if technically you’ve grown out of them. When it comes to silly putty though, it’s hard to understand the appeal.
It’s essentially just goo that you could squish and mold – less gross than slime but not far off. So maybe everyone loved it for the ASMR, and we just didn’t have a word for it yet.
When you think of nineties toys, these little virtual pets are probably the first things to spring to mind. That’s because they were the most versatile toy out there.
Play with them alone? Check. Play with a friend? Check. Clip so many onto your school bag that they become a lethal weapon any time you turn around too quickly? Check.
Most of the toys designed in the nineties were made to play while sitting very still in your bedroom, or at the very least in the back of the car on the way home.
Skip-It’s were different because they could be advertised as an exercise tool, even if they actually just resulted in a bunch of bruised ankles and someone using them as a weapon.
Depending on who you ask, these bizarre robot pets were either the cutest thing to come out of last century, or the most horrifyingly creepy thing to ever waddle the Earth.
That’s because their warbling baby voice was simultaneously both adorable and creepy as hell, and the fact that they sometimes woke you up when you forgot to turn them off was an actual nightmare scenario.
14. Bop It
Gilmore Girls might have made this famous as the toy to break out when social situations got a little too awkward and forced, but there’s no denying that Bop-It was a genuinely awesome game.
For a start, it took actual skill to play, and the tension as the commands started being called out faster and faster was hard to beat. Not only that, but playing against a friend felt like you were in some kind of intellectual championship.
13. Sky Dancers
Sometimes a toy is invented that seems to have been created for the sole purpose of making parents’ lives actively worse. This is one of those toys.
Not only did kids tend to get bored of them pretty quickly, but they also flew off the handle so unpredictably that they were constantly getting lost or destroyed, and the parents of kids with them were just constantly having to chase them down.
12. Moon Shoes
Speaking of unpredictable toys that could turn dangerous at a moment’s notice – Moon Shoes were a huge fad in the nineties, to the point where everywhere from train stations to school playgrounds had to actively ban them.
The reason for that is simple: the chances of falling flat on your face within seconds of attempting to walk in these was almost 100% – and even once you mastered them you’d still occasionally fall over for no reason.
If you were a kid in the nineties, chances are the only thing you wanted more than the latest trendy toy was a dog. That made this the perfect compromise.
Either your parents splashed out to buy you one of these because you couldn’t get a real dog for whatever reason, or they bought you one of these to “test out” if you were ready for a real pet. Either way, you were probably thrilled.
10. Mouse Trap
Not only was this pretty morbid concept turned into a hilariously low-budget and brightly coloured game show, but it was also turned into a board game that took longer to set up than it did to play.
There’s no reason for this game to have been as exciting as it was, and it was awesome until you miraculously lost a piece and could never play properly again.
9. Stretch Armstrong
This is another toy that essentially had no purpose, and did nothing except add to the massive amounts of plastic going to landfill. It’s only purpose was to stretch, and it ripped if you did that to it too much.
Not only that, but the gooey plastic meant every little bit of fluff stuck to it, except for the creepy hard plastic head which just stared at you emptily. In short: 0/10. Bad toy.
8. Magic Mitt
This was another nineties toy that was marketed under the guise of being healthy and educational. In reality, it just meant people throwing these balls at each other as hard as humanly possible.
Add to that the fact that the velcro on these things usually lost its effectiveness just a few months in, and these were a great investment for maybe one summer and then ended up in the garage forever.
7. Polly Pocket
Polly Pockets were so ubiquitous in the nineties that if you were a girl going to school in that decade, you’ve probably still got a couple in the attic or cellar of your childhood home.
With that said, they were the playset your parents probably hated the least, since they had no small parts to accidentally step on with bare feet, and were easily portable.
6. Beanie Babies
Beanie Babies are a strange contradiction because on the one hand, they’re literally just teddies intended for children, but on the other hand, most people who had these are or were adult collectors.
Either way, the most superior of these were obviously the scented and tie-dye varients, followed closely by the Halloween themed variants that came out every year.
5. Doodle Bear
If you weren’t a beanie baby kind of kid, then you might have been a doodle bear kind – teddies which were machine washable and came with fabric-friendly pens to draw all over them.
They came in aggressively nineties pastel colours, and for some reason they wore jeans the same colour as their skin, and eventually someone brought out a sharpie and stained them forever.
4. The Game Of Perfection
Most board games released in the nineties, even the most exciting ones, never actually became high stakes and exciting. This is the one exception to that rule.
That’s because if you didn’t place all of these tiny pieces into the right slots before the timer finished, then all the pieces would explode out of the board. Then if you wanted to play again, you’d have to scrabble around finding them under the sofa and carpet. Fun.
3. Play Doh Barber
Play-Doh is already an iconic nineties toy in its own right, and most of the play packs you could buy to go along with them were completely unnecessary and didn’t actually improve the experience.
With that said, the ability to cut Play-Doh hair with super blunt scissors before squidging them through the Play-Doh people again turned any kid into a professional hairdresser.
2. Rainbow Brite
No one doll encapsulates the nineties in the way Rainbow Brite does. The individual coloured dolls were awesome all by themselves, but this adorable rainbow yarn doll with braidable wool hair was definitely the pinnacle.
The only downside was that the plastic faces always seemed to get stained with blue glittery gel pens, whether or not you actually owned one at the time.
1. Nerf Blaster
Thankfully toy marketing has gotten a whole lot less gendered over the past ten years, but back in the nineties things were a lot more binary. Given that Rainbow Brite was the ultimate “toy for girls”, it seemed obvious to include the boy equivalent.
These Nerf guns were awesome if your family allowed you to buy them, and were great right up until the moment where you realised every single dart you owned was lost somewhere in the back garden. Whoops.