Something about these small, robotic hamsters caused quite the stir in the toy aisle during the 2009 holiday season, despite — or perhaps because of — economic woes across the nation. Perhaps shoppers saw hope in the furry, animatronic beast … although the site of a hundred parents waiting for a Toys ‘R’ Us to open at midnight, and then tearing each other apart over one, doesn’t exactly inspire faith in humanity for us.
Furbies 2 of 10
During the 1998 holiday season, only two syllables mattered: Furby. Not quite a robot, not quite a hamster, Furby was the first major push-out of a robotic toy that was made to adapt and grow to its owners as time went on. Sadly, instead of morphing into our best friend, Furby ended up blinking its eyes a lot and going, “Whooooa,” whenever it was moved.
Squinkies 3 of 10
Following in the long tradition of giving ‘hot toy’ status to the most ridiculously named playthings, tiny, affordable Squinkies were the recession-friendly answer to Black Friday madness in 2010 — that is until, like most other hot toys, they were sold out long before Santas across the country were able to tuck them under the tree. We’re guessing that most of the diminutive Squinkies have now been tucked under couch cushions. Hey, it’s just the nature of the biz, kid.
Tickle Me Elmo 4 of 10
Any of the Sesame Street characters are timeless sure bets if you’re shopping for a kid, but in 1996, the American people caught a fever — Tickle Me Elmo fever. Parents allegedly stalked retail stores' shipments of the toy, clawing one another mercilessly to grab a piece of Elmo. Originally retailing for $28.99, Elmo fetched as much as $1,500 on Ebay — just enough to cover therapy for any holiday-induced stress disorders he incurred.
Cabbage Patch Kids 5 of 10
Perhaps no other toy inspires such fear — or devotion — as Cabbage Patch Kid dolls, first conceived in 1983 and “adopted” by over 2 million children in their first six months on the market. Since this doll is nearing its 30th birthday, less people are likely to claw each other’s eyes out over one. Even so, vintage doll collectors will still pay up to $200 for an original.
Rubik’s Cube 6 of 10
The often-overlooked toy fad of the ‘80s (especially in comparison to the fever-inducing Cabbage Patch Kids), the humble Rubik’s cube flew off the shelves when it was first introduced at toy fairs in 1980. The puzzle earned the German Puzzle of the Year award during that same year, and since then, over 350 million have been sold. While Rubik’s cube fanatics still exist, competing against each other to solve the cube in the shortest amount of time, we predict this boxy contraption will bore kids today even quicker.
Beanie Babies 7 of 10
Fortunately for Beanie Baby collectors — and unfortunately for the rest of us — this stuffed-animal phenomenon was not limited to the holiday season. Adults and kids alike clamored anytime a new shipment of Beanies arrived at a local retail store, happily clawing each other (and paying $50 or more) for a small, floppy bear, fish, or dog, so they could go home and … display them in cases? Chalk it up to one of the many mysteries of the ‘90s and hope that your kid starts to love them just as much — we hear they’re going for 80% off at the store down the street.
Mittens Fluff ‘N Stuff 8 of 10
With a cute name like that, how could parents ignore their daughter’s pleas for Mittens, one of eight in the popular Lalaloopsy line that was set to sell during the 2010 holiday season? According to the NY Post, dismayed by inflated prices they found online (fetching nearly $100, far from her MSRP of $24.99), parents took to the toy stores themselves. Unable to find Mittens for their year-old daughter, one couple had to admit defeat, and come home with a pink-, not blue-haired, Crumbs Sugar Cookie Doll. How much are you betting their daughter only found the box it came in fascinating?
FurReal Friends 9 of 10
The appeal of pets that seem real but aren't real to parents is easy to see — kids get a friend as long as the batteries last without the messier aspects of real animal ownership. According to an FAO Schwarz rep, the popular toy store blew though them during the 2009 holiday season. Sure, it's adorable to see your kid pat and care for a robotic dog or a cat — but when their head spins fully around and they start meowing from the bottom of the toy basket at 3 a.m., don't say we didn't warn you ...
Zune 10 of 10
Crowds camped out in front of the Toys ‘R’ Us in New York’s Times Square were waiting for what they thought was a great deal — Microsoft’s Zune for 60% off normal retail price. It sold so fast that customers were shouting that there weren’t any left just a half-hour after the store’s opening. Wait, you don’t know what we’re talking about? You know, a Zune — the 30-gig mp3 player? You don’t remember it?