The best-selling Christmas toy: 1990-99

So, before you read any further, please watch this video:

Again, before you read any further, please agree that the above toys look as shit as the video showing them.

Every generation has a ‘back in my day’ rant that nobody wants to know about. This is that same thing. I’m from the 90s and probably like many before, and probably like many after, the Argos catalogue was a big part of my Christmas. It starts as a reference, for letters to Father Christmas. A handy guide, in case he buys the presents at Argos and needs the annoying codes and prices. Eventually, somebody ruins that most beautiful illusion and you discover that your parents buy the stuff you want. At this point, things get circled directly in the catalogue. If you had siblings, maybe you had a different colour pen for each of you, well done. Never again in your life will admin be this fun.

The closest I’ve come to recreating that, in recent times, produced a genuinely tragic story. Nobody died, it’s just a bit sad. A few years back, I bought a DVD from eBay with PDF files of old Argos catalogues on it. I’ve spent hours looking through them. Even the homeware and hideous jewellery, it’s impossible to stop. I thought it might be cathartic to make a list, akin to one I may have sent the big red guy. The five predicted best-selling toys of 2018 look terrible. My Christmas gift to you is a list, featuring the best-selling toy from each year of the 90s. And none of them are unicorns with glittery shit.

1990: Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles

As promised, there are no shitting unicorns on my list. Instead, crime fighting turtles who eat pizza. They spawned another craze which saw many people purchase real terrapins, roughly the size of a 50p coin. Eventually, these animals grew to the size of dinner plates and many were released by owners into local ponds. The impact they had on wildlife is still evident in some parts, but they’re better than shitting unicorns. That’s the last I mention of them, honest.

1991: Gameboy

The Gameboy’s dynasty extends to this day, with its descendant the Nintendo Switch. Pokémon was my personal game of choice, and recently released on the Switch was Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu, a remake of the original Gameboy’s Pokémon Yellow. If the Gameboy image looks familiar, but you never played one, you’ve probably seen a hipster use it as a phone case.

1992: Thunderbirds Tracy Island

I was never a Thunderbirds fan really. I mean, if they were birds who could manifest thunder and lightning then you would’ve had my attention. But they were puppets. Their base, however, was sweet as a nut. My main memory of it is the Blue Peter homemade version. See the accelerated clip below:

1993: Barbie Dolls

You won’t notice a picture of a Barbie Doll on the page, but you might recognise the Barbie Dream Motor Home. This is considered to be a contributing factor as to why Barbie sold so well this year, as it was also released in 93. Never had a Barbie myself, but this iconic toy cannot be denied.

1994: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

Whenever somebody asks me why I grew my hair out in my late teens, and why I kept it well into my twenties, the answer is always because I thought (still do) that I was the White Ranger. Tommy was my absolute hero, and the first toy I remember receiving and being blown away by. If you don’t know how cool he was, check this out. *SPOILERS* Tommy used to be the Green Ranger.

1995: POGS

POGS were a stroke of genius. Similar to trading cards or football stickers, they were easy to carry on you, and simple to swap. The best thing about POGS was that you played with the actual thing, like, you didn’t have to imagine it had special powers. Just lob it at something. If you’ve been stuck with a 90s friend for Secret Santa, buy them some POGS. They’re still cheap! 

1996: Buzz Lightyear

Again, genius. Make a film showcasing the coolest toy that ever existed. Then, make that toy a reality. This toy is still on shelves today, and much like back then, I still can’t afford it. I’d have to go to infinity and beyond to get one. Yep.

1997: Teletubbies/Tamagotchi

I remember vividly, coming home from school as a really young kid and being greeted by my brother who is a year younger. He proclaimed, “Pete, I’ve just seen the greatest show ever made!” Or something like that. We proceeded to watch colourful shapes consume toast and custard, with a possessed vacuum cleaner following them. Despite enjoying this, and proving to be idiots, we were later entrusted with looking after an 8-bit creature. What a time to be alive.

1998: Furby

I loved the idea of a Tamagotchi, but I can’t say I was ever really attached to one. The first time I felt real regret in my life, was at the hands of a Furby. Well, at my own hands technically. The same day I unwrapped a gift that I definitely identified in an Argos catalogue, was the same day as my first murder… He wouldn’t shut up, he kept talking, he was so loud, he… he… he… He was in my hands, and before I knew it, I was holding him up to my front room light bulb. Silence. Must’ve fried his little furry brains. Poor bastard, and waste of money we didn’t have. Bantz now though.

1999: Who Wants to be a Millionaire

I believed that if you answered the million-pound question correctly, you were given a million quid. And I’m definitely not the only one. I still can’t say categorically that you aren’t, because I never completed it. These games still appear in charity shops and at car boot sales everywhere, but I assume people have taken all of the money out? Could be on to something here…

What was the best toy you ever got for Christmas? Is it on our list? How about the toy from your birth year? Tweet us the answers to these questions, and I might share my Argos PDF collection with you.

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