With Christmas quickly approaching, I've been feeling nostalgic for the crazy '90s toys I used to get under the tree. I grew up mainly in the 1990s, and it seems to me that at one point or another, I had every big-name toy highlighted in the JC Penney Wishbook. I still have a lot of them, because I'm a spoiled only child and my parents are clinging onto my childhood like no one's business. Though these are by no means the only '90s toys I owned, or the only ones sold, they're the ones I loved the best – and the ones I think other '90s babies will recognize the most.
Lil Miss Makeup was one of the most popular '90s toys among my playmates, and she had an entire franchise! At first glance, this Lil Miss was pure innocence, but by removing her bows, adding a top, and applying water to her face at just the right temperature, she glammed out. She rocked a red lip and a heart-shaped beauty mark like nobody's business. I didn't own the entire franchise, but I had Lil Miss Magic Mermaid (whose siren song still haunts my dreams) and Lil Miss Magic Hair.
I went nuts over Magic Nursery Babies; they replaced Cabbage Patch Kids as my favorite baby doll the second they came out on the market. The premise was that you bought a baby without knowing the gender. You had to wait until you got home to open the box and swish a magic packet in cold water. It melted into this congealed, slimy substance you'd play with for several minutes until you remembered what you were supposed to be doing, at which point you'd pluck out the revealed packet containing your baby's gender and an outfit! Sometimes lucky kids got twins or triplets, which you'd send away to receive. I was not lucky, but I did have a curly little blonde girl in a floral dress, a handsome brunette boy in overalls, and an adorable infant with a little curl.
I loved Skip-It. I still love Skip-It and kind of want one. I broke my first one and received a replacement for Christmas one year, which I hated. Growing up in West Virginia meant lots of snow, and you cannot Skip-It in the snow. I had to do it indoors – in the kitchen at home, and during recess periods in the cafeteria at school. That meant a much greater risk of the fatal Skip-It flaw: bashing the hell out of my ankle when I timed my jump incorrectly.
P.J. Sparkles was pretty and pink and sparkly. Her dress could turn into a night gown, so she could go to sleep with you and light up the dark. Of course you never actually slept with her because she was made of hard plastic, but you'd happily set her near your bed and press her little sparkle button when you had to go to the bathroom. You'd find your way through the darkness as her jewelry and heart sent out pink strobe flashes to light your way.
I never wanted an American Girl Doll, but I know they were highly favored among other '90s girls. Heather had one and apparently loved it without reason. The concept is pretty cool: you get a gorgeous doll for which you can buy all kinds of furniture and different outfits, plus you learn a little something in the bargain. Still, I always picked Barbie.
For a brief time, Magic Potty Baby replaced Baby All Gone as the must have mommy-inspired toy. Little girls love taking care of tiny babies, and this one was so real. In retrospect, it's kind of gross that we all wanted a baby that actually, seriously peed and pooed and flushed, but hey. It was the '90s, I guess.
I wasn't an enormous fan of Polly Pocket myself, but she was pretty cute – and super popular. The teeny tiny play sets were precious – and they would always end up missing half their pieces the very day you took them to school after winter vacation. I regret to confess that I always laughed at the little girls who lost their Polly Pocket pieces on the playground. I'm sorry.
Full disclosure: I did not have an Easy-Bake Oven, although I desperately wanted one. I had a Make It and Bake It Oven instead. It made gorgeous stained glass baubles, and I loved it dearly, but come on. You can't eat sun catchers. In what was probably a smart move, however, my parents decided that one light bulb-operated toy was enough.
Who gives a Super Soaker at Christmas? Smart parents, that's who. They cost less in the winter, and your parents didn't have to worry about getting ambushed when it was that cold outside. I got two almost every year, but only one of them was for me; the other one was for my dad. We had five months to come up with ways to wage a water war before the hot weather came and all bets were off.
Of course, I also had more Barbie dolls than I can count, and very much enjoyed created long, drawn out stories for all of them. Barbie's pretty timeless, though, so I left her off this list – she's plenty famous on her own. I'd actually love to play with some of these toys again … but I won't. Probably. While I remind myself I'm a big girl now, why don't you reveal some of your favorite childhood toys? Which toys did you dream of receiving but never get?
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