The Most Embarrassing Toy Crazes of the Past 50 Years


It’s no secret that children have ridiculously bad taste. They wear towels as capes, favor pigtails with scrunchies, and worship at the altars of false pop idols. They talk to their stuffed animals. They eat pasta with butter — exclusively. At least we did. So it’s not too surprising then that in the last 50 years there have been a lot of really tacky gift crazes catering to that most tasteless of all age groups.

Check out our list of the ten most retrospectively embarrassing toys — each of these was a top seller at Christmas — if not the top seller — and each makes us cringe deeply when we think about how badly we (or our parents) wanted them. What were we thinking?

10. My Little Pony (1983)

Those flowers and jewels and stuff are right where the branding would be. Also, who puts eye makeup on horses? (Although we admit we think this is pretty awesome.)

9. Mortal Kombat for Sega Genesis (1993)

This was the best selling Christmas toy in ’93. Shouldn’t these kids be out in the fresh air playing with baseball bats or something? (But: Sega Genesis! Ah, the good old days.)

8. Pokémon everything (1999)

The idea for the Pokémon universe came from the creator’s childhood love of collecting insects. If that’s not weird enough for you, how about the cultish chanting of “Gotta Catch ‘Em All! Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” we heard so much of? We’re against anything that turns children into swirly-eyed consumer drones.

7. Beanie Babies (1997)

Why did everyone think these were going to have lasting value? Moms hit stores at 5 a.m. to secure the right Beanie Baby for their babies. There were collecting books with ridiculous supposed market values, with the plush toys sometimes going for hundreds of dollars. Until everyone lost interest in them. Now they’re all worth five dollars. Oops.

6. Tickle Me Elmo (1996)

Let’s teach our children soft torture techniques!

5. Trolls (1963)

They don’t do anything. And they’re really, really creepy. Plus, again with the emblazoned jewels on the bodies of what would be living creatures. Finally, Mimi collected them. That’s when you know it’s a bad idea.

4. Pogs (1995)

Just…why? These were cardboard discs with cheap pictures on them and people paid for them. Remember slammers? Seriously, what was wrong with us?

3. Tamagotchi (1997)

You had to clean up its virtual poop or this toy pet died.

2. Dungeons and Dragons (1974)

We always thought D&D was strictly the territory of that kid in our middle school class with the black trench coat and his buddy who brought a sword to school. But no, turns out it was the best-selling toy of the year in 1974. To tell the truth, that actually explains a lot.

1. Furby (1999)

Furby was seriously the creepiest and weirdest toy ever. It was supposed to learn your speech patterns? It could talk to other Furbys? It looked exactly like a gremlin! And everyone wanted one! We ended up having to wrap ours in a sweater and shut it in the back of the closet to make it shut up. “Furrr-byyyy.” Never again.

So what about this year?

We think we should break the mold of stupid toys and buy this sweet Don Draper Doll. With a sidecar.

Unfortunately, however, our money’s on those inexplicably popular mechanical hamsters. Sigh. Will we never learn?

Bonus: For a full — and illustrated! — list of the top selling toys since 1960, click here