These fad toys have inspired store sell-outs, parent pandemonium and crazy resale values over the years. Is your kid's fave or your childhood obsession on the list? Silly Bandz
These rubber band bracelets — which spring back into cool shapes when they're not being worn — took kids by storm in 2009. Originally designed to be an office supply with enough design interest to avoid the garbage bin, the bands got so big that schools started banning them due to classroom disruption.
The nation came down with Furby fever during the holiday season of 1998, when it became the toy on the top of every kid's wish list, according to Wikipedia. The part owl/part hamster/part Yoda robot critters spoke their own language — Furbish, of course — but gradually "learned" English the more you played with them. Although kids are no longer Furby-crazy, you can still find them for sale online.
Your kid wants a dog, but you don't, so get him the next best thing — a virtual pet! The egg-shaped handheld, which had its heyday in the mid-90s according to Wikipedia, lets you name your pet, feed it, clean up its poop, give it medicine and get it to bed. Fail to take proper care of it, and it dies — just like the real thing, only a lot less traumatic. In early versions, half a day of neglect could lead to the pet's demise, but after complaints from teachers and parents who wanted their child to engage in other real world activities, the company introduced a pause feature. You can still purchase the latest iteration of the toy, TamaTown, which lets you plug in and swap out characters for more varied play.
Tickle Me Elmo
TV Elmo has an eerie ability to enchant toddlers; those tiny minds get blown away when they meet him in 3-D. Tickle Me Elmo, a giggling, vibrating plush toy version of the red furry monster, was introduced in 1996 according to Wikipedia, and became an instant success. Due to unexpectedly high demand, the toy, which retailed for $28.99, fetched as much as $1500 in re-sale. In 2006, TMX (Tickle Me Extreme), an amped-up version that rolled around on the floor and begged the tickler for mercy, was released. The hype was so great that it was unveiled live on Good Morning America, and packaging made it impossible to get a sneak peek at the product. Although the hype has since died down, Tickle Me Elmo is still on the market today.
Hitting the market in 2001, these saucy dolls ignited a firestorm over the hyper-sexualization of little girls. Even the American Psychological Association weighed in, saying in 2007: "Bratz dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings and feather boas. Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality." The dolls were then pulled from the market in 2008 due to copyright infringement. Love 'em or hate 'em, Jade, Sasha, Cloe, and Yasmin — the original girls with a passion for fashion — were big business in the mid-2000s, and are set to be re-launched.
Cabbage Patch Kid
Did you know that the original name for Cabbage Patch Kids was Little People, and that all have the signature of inventor Xavier Roberts stamped on their butt-cheek? The fugly-cute dolls that you don't just buy but adopt become all the rage in the mid-80s, even making the cover of Newsweek in 1983. Later versions had more human-like hair and come in special editions — NASCAR CPK anyone? You can still, uh, adopt an original Cabbage Patch Kid today, but it will set you back $295 to do so.
Currently one of the biggest toy crazes, Bakugan is a game consisting of spring-loaded balls that flip open into robotic figures when rolled onto a special matching card. The figures, which all have complex backstories from the anime series they're based on, do battle, allowing players to collect cards and win.
Zhu Zhu Pets
These interactive toy hamsters are as cuddly as the real thing but come in pink and don't smell! Each Zhu Zhu pet makes one of 40 noises based on how you interact with it, from purrs to squeaks. Pet them and they zoom across the floor, making a surprised sound and changing direction when they bump into something. Hit another button to put them in "nurture mode," where they'll coo and even go to sleep. Low supply in 2009 made these a hot and hard-to-get toy, according to Wikipedia, but bigger shipments caused the hysteria to die down a bit in 2010.