Black Friday’s Best Toys: A Retrospective | NowThis Nerd

Black Friday’s Best Toys: A Retrospective | NowThis Nerd

Hey everyone, I’m Mike and I really should be out shopping, It’s Black Friday, but today’s deals just don’t thrill me the way it did when I was a kid. I want the Turboman action figure with the arms and legs that move! I mean, I’m all about snagging cheap TVs and boatloads of $5 Blu-rays, but back in the day, it was all about the toys. Kids, the new Toys ‘R Us catalog is here and it’s filled with this season’s hottest toys! The catalog is only available at Toys ‘R Us and they’re going fast! My poor mother had to clip coupons and wait in line to get me some of the most ridiculous toys of all time. Socker Boppers! Socker Boppers! That’s why today, I’m surrendering to my nostalgia and going through The Best of Black Friday. Starting with the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. It’s morphing time! My first action-figure obsession was the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’ The toys debuted in 1988, and over the next few years they gradually ballooned into a big craze. But ‘Power Rangers’ printed money right from the start. And as far as my seven-year-old self was concerned, Saban’s adaptation of Japan’s ‘Super Sentai’ series blew the Turtles away. It’s morphin’ time! Dragonzord! Mastodon! Pterodactyl! The show might not hold up today, but the concept is custom-made for awesome toys. From head-flipping Auto-Morphin’ Rangers to the massive Megazord, The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Ultimate Battle System! every kid wanted a Power Ranger for the holidays. They were the number one toy of 1994, capturing 40% of the action figure market in their first year, with over a billion dollars in sales. and that’s not counting all the scalpers. I just got back from Wal-Mart, they’re selling Nintendo 3DS systems for $149.99 on sale. Plus every time you buy one you get a $50 gift card, brings the whole price down to $110 after tax! To put that in perspective, the Ninja Turtles brought in half of that in their best year. The legendary demand was immortalized in film, since Arnold’s quest for a Turbo Man doll in ‘Jingle All the Way,’ was directly inspired by the hunt for Power Rangers toys. I’m trying to find the Turboman doll! Turboman’s only the hottest selling Christmas toy ever, duh! Today, the Rangers are still going strong. The franchise has been a consistent money-maker for decades now, even if the new movie didn’t move enough Krispy Kreme to warrant a sequel. We gotta go to Krispy Kreme Jason. Trust me, though. These teens with attitude aren’t going anywhere. Up next is Tickle Me Elmo Tickle Me Elmo! When your child tickles him, he talks! I was a little too old for this guy when he came out, In 1996, I was more concerned about getting my Nintendo 64. Before Elmo, ‘Sesame Street’ wasn’t really a merchandise powerhouse. Let’s sing a song about the number 3! The toys were seen as strictly educational and didn’t sell well, at least, until this giggling gadget changed everything overnight. His whole body shakes! Tickle Me Elmo and his Tickle Me friends! The original prototype, ‘Tickles the Chimp,’ was rejected twelve times, until Tyco thought the concept would work with their Looney Tunes license. What’s up, Doc? The Tazmanian Devil was getting a big push at the time, and they thought the design would be a perfect fit for ‘Tickle Me Taz.’ It didn’t work out, but Tyco also happened to have the toy rights for ‘Sesame Street,’ whose rising star Elmo was taking the world of public television by storm. La la la, Elmo’s World! Tickle Me Elmo was born, and it became a phenomenon for three reasons: When your child tickles him, he talks! It was a great design, It had a perfect 8-second ‘Try Me’ demo, convincing parents their $29.95 would be well spent, and Rosie O’Donnell. After appearing on her show, the dolls became a media sensation. He laughs, he talks and he shivers… Whatever you wanna call it. Parents lined up around the block for a chance to snag one, Right here, in the box, brand new, $250. stampeding through toy stores and chasing after delivery trucks. And by the end of the holiday season, Tyco had sold out their entire stock of one million Tickle Me Elmos. Next on our list: Tamogotchi Tamagotchi: The original virtual reality pet! The keychain-sized virtual pets were invented in Japan in 1996. Creator Aki Maita a was inspired by a commercial she saw about a boy bringing his pet turtle to school, and she named her new toy Tamagotchi, a combination of “tamago” the Japanese word for “egg,” and “watch.” Bandai, the same toy company behind ‘Power Rangers,’ launched ‘Tamagotchi’ in Japan in 1996. They sold 5 million pets in the first year, and when it launched in America a year later, demand was just as high. F.A.O. Schwarz sold out their first shipment of 30,000 in just three days, and QVC unloaded 6,000 in five minutes. Soon, children across the globe were scooping up virtual poop, learning about the terrifying inevitability of death, and slacking off in class. I know I wasn’t the only kid who got one confiscated. Schools everywhere banned the beeping little eggs, and their knockoffs. The same year Tamagotchi debuted in the U.S., Tiger Electronics launched their less-expensive GigaPets. When your Giga Pets call you gotta stop! Don’t forget your Giga Pets! They couldn’t compete with the real deal, but a year later Tiger released a slightly less virtual pet that blew the Tamagotchi out of the water: Furby Inventor Dave Hampton previously helped design the arcade game Q*Bert, so he had plenty of experience with crazy-talking computer creatures. With Furby, he wanted to fix what he saw as Tamagotchi’s fatal flaw: You couldn’t pet it. So he came up with a toy codenamed “furball,’ a name which later evolved into ‘Furby.’ the first Giga Pet you pet! Pet me! Hampton built computerized guts for a doll that could blink, purr, and and speak a creepy made-up language, and Tiger quickly snatched up the rights. The furry little gremlin hit the market in October, 1998, just in time for Black Friday. And by the end of the year, it had sold 27 million units. Kids were amazed at the lifelike behavior of their furry friends. It seemed like magic at the time, and rumors swirled that Furbys were capable of listening and learning to speak English. That wasn’t true, but that didn’t stop the NSA from banning all Furbys on the premises out of fear that they’d record state secrets. Today, a quick Google search or YouTube unboxing would dispel all the speculation, but back then, schoolyard rumors were all we had to go on. As usual, the playground has the facts right but missed the point entirely. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible that I can log on to Amazon and get a truckload of tablets for cheap, but these days, toys, and Black Friday, just aren’t as fun as they used to be.

16 thoughts on “Black Friday’s Best Toys: A Retrospective | NowThis Nerd

  1. I had the red and blue ranger Soo cool then later Beatle morphs we're a big thing then I got sucked into transformers toys man they don't make them like they use to but we got McFarlane products now

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