Toys are great. Not only do they allow parents to keep their kids occupied while they get stuff done, they can help with mental development and give them lovely childhood memories.
Most kids toys are innocent enough and aren’t designed to annoy the people around the player. But some kids toys almost seem like they’re designed for the sole purpose of annoying adults!
A lot of the popular 90s kids toys fall into this category. We loved playing with them as children, but looking back, it’s curious how they got so popular given how annoying they were!
If you owned any of these 90s kids toys, rest assured in knowing that your parents really did love you—because they were willing to put up with their noise, mess, and annoyances.
The Furby took over the holiday shopping scene in 1999, moving 14 million units in that year alone. The demonic-looking gremlin-like robotic bird was able to speak and “learn” from its owner.
These obnoxious bird-toys could even communicate with each other—so if it wasn’t enough to have one toy babbling to itself, you could gather several together and really get the “fun” going.
In retrospect, the toy wasn’t really all that fun. There wasn’t much interactivity to it, and it ended up being little more than an annoying little machine that made noise and spoke nonsense.
Not to mention scaring the daylights out of unsuspecting folks who walked past one of these in the dead of night.
2. Tickle Me Elmo
What if you had a stuffed animal that could “feel” when you tickled it? And what if that stuffed animal made all sorts of sounds and vibrations in response? And what if that’s all it did?
Apparently, that’s a recipe for one of the best-selling kids toys of all time. In just a few months, Tyco Preschool managed to sell over a million units of these obnoxious Tickle Me Elmo dolls.
Tickle Me Elmo was so popular that it stirred up a rabid frenzy among shoppers who wanted one for their kids during the holiday season. (If only they knew what they were getting…)
At least Tickle Me Elmo wasn’t as demanding as Furby. He would just hang out when he wasn’t in use. And as annoying as he was, I have fond memories of my own Tickle Me Elmo—like that one time I was so annoyed that I smacked it with a baseball bat into our family pool. Good times!
3. Bop It
Bop It was a physical game-toy that yelled commands at the player at increasingly faster speeds, to see how well the player could follow directions without messing up.
The original game featured three commands: Bop it! Twist it! Pull it! Later variations of the Bop It toy added more commands, like Flick it! and Spin it!
But no matter which version you had as a kid (and how fun the game might’ve been), can you imagine how much patience your poor parents must’ve had to sit there and listen to “Bop it, twist it, bop it, pull it, bop it, pull it, twist it!” all day long?
4. Hungry Hungry Hippos
This button-mashing board game manifested as a physical toy where chaos and cacophony were the only goal.
A bunch of balls are released onto a shared playfield, and each player presses their hippo-lever as rapidly as they can, causing the hippos to “eat” said balls. He who eats the most balls wins.
While this is happening, there’s noise—a lot of noise. The game itself was plastic on plastic on plastic, so you can imagine the ruckus caused by four kids pounding levers as fast as they can. That’s a lot of noise pollution for any innocent bystanders.
And when you think about what Hungry Hungry Hippos actually is, you can’t help but wonder how we ever had fun playing it. There’s no skill, thought, or nuance to playing the game…
Playing with a Tamagotchi isn’t fun. It’s work. This digital pet-creature demands regular attention and provides nothing in return. It’s all of the chores in pet care without any of the oxytocin.
Sure, you can “play” with it—but that’s just another form of work masquerading as fun. Kids were worried about who could keep their Tamagotchi alive the longest, but in retrospect, the kids who gave up on theirs after a day or two were the real winners.
To make this thing even more annoying, most of us weren’t allowed to have them in school, which meant our poor parents had to take care of them for us while we were gone!
Not only did they have to watch us waste our time with a stupid digital pet, but we forced it on them as well. Poor parents.