There can’t be a future without a past. Some ’90s toys that now seem obsolete still had a hand in inspiring many of today’s gadgets. Children in the ’90s may not have had the futuristic toys children have today, but they were part of the last generation of children to grow up before the internet took over the world.
Still, when you look at the toys below you can also tell that some things haven’t changed. Even with all of the technology-driven toys in the market today, there are some things that are still great without as many bells and whistles.
We can also see that with all the nostalgia we see today, some ’90s toys have made a comeback, while others have been revamped. Each generation had its respective definition of fun, and it’s great to see these contrasts.
Of course, with all of the options today, we wonder if parents are ever tempted to play with some of these gizmos instead. And truly, keeping one’s inner child alive and well is supposed to be a good thing.
Below are some toys from today and their equivalents in the ’90s. Sure, kids today have it great, but parents also had their fun back then!
20 Today: Really Rad Robots Mibro R/C Robot vs. ’90s: Tekno The Robotic Puppy
In the ’90s, Tekno pets were huge. The brand inspired many copycats, but these days most people with nostalgia consistently add this brand to their list of most-missed toys from the 90s on their Pinterest boards. These little robot pets made many children happy, and then the trend faded away.
Today’s kids now play with Really Rad Robots Mibro R/C Robot. This is more straightforward and futuristic in that many of its predecessors. This robot can play soccer, prank others, and even spy on people. Kids today even get a remote control so they can control it. Um, ’90s kids couldn’t spy on anyone for sure.
19 Today: Kinetic Sand vs. ’90s: Gak
Nickelodeon really made an impact on the 90s with its Gak. It was slimy, messy, and came in many colors. Thankfully it wasn’t too expensive, but some people have perfected recipes for Gak even today. It’s basically a precursor to the many children’s products today that focus on tactile sensations.
Kids today now play with kinetic sand. This is more advanced though. Kinetic sand only sticks to itself and people can even sculpt into many shapes. That makes it less of a nightmare to parents today. Judging by how much kids love it, it’s awesome to see non-electronic toy options.
18 Today: Let’s Dance Elmo vs. ’90s: Tickle Me Elmo
Elmo was always a cultural mainstay for many children in the U.S. and around the world. In the 90s, Tickle-Me-Elmo was the it toy for young children. The craze over this toy was so grand it even has a place in history. Times Union wrote an article on December 2017 reminding parents what it was light to go head to head over the toy.
Elmo is still a marketable cultural icon, but today’s Let’s Dance Elmo has made less of a mark. Children still obviously love Elmo, but thankfully parents no longer have to wrestle with each other over a present for their kid.
17 Today: Funko Pop Toys vs. ’90s: Beanie Babies
The ’90s Beanie Babies also made history. Some people thought these adorable stuffed animals would someday fetch a large amount of cash. The History Channel even documents how Beanie Babies also had a dark side. Some people even made counterfeit versions of the toys in order to take advantage of parents who were trying to make their kids happy.
Kids today have Funko toys, which are often adorable versions of other favorite toys. These are also collectible, but slightly less cuddly. They also haven’t caused people to start a greedy subculture around them and even parents seem to enjoy playing with them.
16 Today: The Oregon Trail (Handheld) vs. ’90s: The OG Oregon Trail
Every fourth grader from the ’90s remembers that whole dysentery issue in The Oregon Trail. The educational game often a nice break from normal classroom activities. Plus, many children got to play with computers at school before every family had one of these contraptions in their own house.
Fast forward a bit to today. A handheld version of The Oregon Trail is now available so anyone can experience the thrills of the Oregon Trail on the go. Nostalgia for this game is so widespread, even Minecraft has its own version of the game to quell the masses. There’s still a place for the classics!
15 Today: Hairdorables vs. ’90s: Totally Hair Barbie
Totally Hair Barbie wasn’t just a toy, it was also a fashion statement. Unlike other Barbie dolls, this one featured very long (and crimped!) hair. Her outfit was totally colorful and the toy allowed kids to style her hair in new and fun ways. Mattel even says this was the best-selling Barbie of all time.
Today’s kids have Hairdorables. We’re not sure if its creators were inspired by Totally Hair Barbie, but there’s a possibility. Hairdorables offers a lot of fun options for children who like extremely colorful things. It’s a doll that also complies this generation’s demand for all-unicorn items.
14 Today: Hands Finger Puppet vs. ’90s: Sticky Hands
The ’90s Sticky Hands were yet another force to be reckoned with. These toys are proof that even though many toys in the ’90s were taking advantage of new technology, children were still happy with something simple. Best of all, parents were probably happy about this relatively cheap toy trend.
Today’s Hand Finger Puppets are different, but it shows that even today’s technology-obsessed generation is happy to play with a small implement. Thankfully, they’re not sticky, because ’90s children probably got small bits of paper, strands of hair, and even carpet stuck to their toys. Gross! Finger puppets seem like an upgrade.
13 Today: Feisty Pets vs. ’90s: Furby
Furbies were futuristic yet cuddly toys. In the ’90s, you were either obsessed with them, or their little eyes creeped out you ever so slightly. First released in 1998, Tiger Electronics sold a whopping 40 million of these toys in three years. It was revived in 2005 and 2012.
Children today have Feisty Pets. These toys have been compared to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Like Furbies, they also have a personality. These stuffed animals are adorable, but they turn otherwise. They’re a refreshing take on stuffed animals and give kids an option of having a toy with a bit more personality.
12 Today: Marvin’s Magic Drawing Board vs. ’90s: Etch-A-Sketch
Etch-A-Sketch was yet another non-technological toy available to 90s kids. It allowed children to draw using two controls and then start all over again. Some people even became masters at making art in these contraptions. Regardless of how good or bad kids were at drawing in these contraptions, they provided hours of amusement.
Children today can now play with the very colorful Marvin’s Magic Drawing Board. It consists of a black foreground where colors are revealed after drawing or writing something. Once again, these toys provide a tech-free way to exercise creativity. Though some people don’t feel they work as well as the Etch-A-Sketch. To each their own!
11 Today: Nintendo Switch vs. ’90s: GameBoy
GameBoys were a coveted ’90s accouterment. Sure, it needed a lot of batteries, it was only in black and white, and it was highly pixelated when compared to today’s HD creations. Some parents considered the toy to be a lifesaver during road trips though. Plus, you could finally take Mario wherever you went!
There are many modern gadgets today that would not be possible without the GameBoy, including today’s Nintendo Switch. Today, children have more games to choose from. Their games even feature colors! Plus, the Nintendo Switch looks just as sleek as any regular TV screen. Times have changed!
10 Today: Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog vs. ’90s: Hungry Hungry Hippo
Technically, Hungry Hungry Hippos wasn’t meant to fine-tune anyone’s motor skills. However, it was a fun game for children who were learning how to count, as the hippo with the most marbles was the winner. Plus, the game was yet another simple and relatively inexpensive way to keep 90s kids entertained.
Children today have Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog. This toy is meant to help young children have fun while assisting them with motor skills. It seems that toy-makers today have found novel ways to help parents educate their children while also having fun. Two birds with one stone? Parents can dig it.
9 Today: Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Dino vs. ’90s: Little Tikes Red And Yellow Car
Kids in several decades actually got to play with the Little Tikes red and yellow car, but to ’90s kids, this is a ’90s toy. Children loved “driving” in this car, and parents probably felt it was safer than many of the kids’ convertibles in the market.
Today’s Dino car shows that you don’t need to change much in order to reach a new audience. The main difference in today’s Little Tikes car is that it’s made to look like a dinosaur. Other than that, children today probably get just as much joy as their parents did in the ’90s.
8 Today: Lori Local Cafe & Terrace vs. ’90s: Polly Pocket Mr. Fry’s Restaurant
Polly Pocket was a hit in the ’90s because its small play sets had something for everyone. Mr. Fry’s restaurant was just one of the many play sets, and there were children who were lucky enough to own more than one of these pocket play sets.
Children today have Lori Local Cafe & Terrace. It’s not as small as Polly Pocket, but restaurant-themed toys would be less of a hit without its influence. This café and terrace show that hipsters didn’t just take over the world. They went on to create toys that influence children to support local cafés too. Hmmm, we wonder if green juice is on the menu.
7 Today: Our Generation Off-Roader vs. ’90s: Barbie Corvette
What was so great about Barbie was how Mattel always managed to reinvent her. She’s yet another example of a toy brand that catered to almost everyone. Though the Barbie Corvette craze began in the 1970s and 1980s, the 90s were also a time when its reinvention became popular among children. There’s nothing like taking Barbie out in an awesome car!
Unless of course, you’re a child today. The Offroader not only allows kids to take their dolls and stuffed animals out for a day on the town. They can now take their dolls out to surf. Plus, this little car has room for a lot more toys.
6 Today: Examine & Treat Pet Vet Play Set vs. ’90s: Animal Hospital
The ’90s Animal Hospital probably inspired a lot of future veterinarians. It was a toy that inspired children to care for animals and show them some compassion. Though it wasn’t as well-known as other play sets, it had its own niche.
Children today have a slightly upgraded veterinary experience that allows them to use small stuffed animals. Animal Hospital pets were smaller and made of plastic. Thankfully, today’s PetVet Playset is probably a bit safer.
Though these toys look different, they still allow children to play for hours. Hey, there are many ways children can find a vocation. Toys can be a vehicle for this.
5 Today: Crayola Scribble Scrubbie vs. ’90s: Doodle Bear
Creative children in the 90s probably really enjoyed the Doodle Bear. It was a small teddy bear that came in many colors. Unlike other toys that were meant to remain spotless, the Doodle Bear was meant to be drawn on. Finally! A toy you were meant to make marks on.
Children today have the Crayola Scribble Scrubbie. This isn’t as squishy and won’t provide the comfort of a teddy bear. But it’s still fun for children to have toys they can get creative with as a part of how they work. It even comes with special markers to be used just for this toy.
4 Today: LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall Building Kit vs. ’90s: Playmobil Victorian House
The Playmobil Victorian Mansion was a pre-Harry Potter toy. That’s because the books were released in 1997 in the UK and 1998 in the U.S. The film was released in 2001. That means children in the 90s had to use mysterious and magic-inspired toys without Harry Potter’s influence. How did we survive?!
Though there are many toys today inspired by magic, kids today can bring Harry Potter’s world to life. This LEGO Great Hall Building Kit is an amazing puzzle to tackle. Today, Harry Potter toys encourage a love of cinema and literature. Plus, children can imagine eating that delicious food as they play.
3 Today: Pokémon Power Action Interactive Plush Pikachu vs. 90s: Pokémon Burger King Toys
Pokémon came to the U.S. from Japan and immediately changed the world for ’90s kids. In fact, there’s an entire Reddit thread where Pokémon fans recalled the craze for the toys, show, and other memorabilia back then.
Naturally, someone was going to create toys to include in kid’s meals. In the 90s, that was Burger King.
Children today can play with a plush version of Pikachu. But mentioning this toy alone doesn’t do the revived Pokémon craze justice. Today’s craze for the toys is nothing like the 90s, but who can forget what happened after Pokémon Go was released? Pokémon isn’t going anywhere.
2 Today: Laser X Twin Pack vs. ’90s: Laser Pointer
Laser pointers were sort of a toy from the future back in the ’90s. Even though these pointers weren’t exactly toys, they were ubiquitous and fun—just ask anyone who owns a cat. For the first time, we could carry lasers in our pockets! Sure, laser tag existed in the ’90s too, but you had to actually go somewhere and pay.
Children today have Laser X, a more advanced laser toy that simulates laser tag for anyone who enjoys it. Sure, it’s more expensive but it seems like something even parents can enjoy along with their children. The toy is proof that we live in the future.
1 Today: Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition vs. ’90s: TIGER Handheld LCD Games
Children in the ’90s grew up seeing tablets in the likes of Star Trek and other futuristic movies. We had no idea they’d later become real. Instead, we played with a variety of high-tech toys that now seem like something from the stone age. Tiger handheld games were an amazing toy to kids back then.
The disadvantage is that you had to buy one new mini-console to play a different game. Kids today have a variety of tablets to choose from that let them choose from many activities. Amazon even designed its Fire 7 tablet specifically for children. Take that, ’90s!
Sources: youtube.com, timesunion.com, history.com,pinterest.com, twitter.com, flickr.com, amazon.com, worthpoint.com, popsugar.com, crayola.com, tumblr.com, ranker.com, digitaltrends.com, target.com, thinkgeek.com