Christmas is always a hectic time of year for many. There are so many cookies to bake and parties to attend, it can be hard to keep up with it all. Many people aspire to begin their holiday shopping before December even begins, but so few of us succeed. Often, we are rushing to the mall during that final week, battling traffic and other humans in the hopes of finding the perfect gift for everyone on the list.
These days there are just so many toys to choose from. From the latest fads to the old standbys, our options are seemingly endless. It can be easy to get overwhelmed. The one thing no one wants is to come home with a gift that the recipient is not going to like. There is so much pressure to find the perfect gift, and with all the options out there it is all too easy to end up with a clunker.
With Christmas done for another year, let’s review or maybe get a head start on next year’s shopping. Whatever your style, you’ll want to take a look at this list of the fifteen dumbest toys you may actually end up buying before rushing off to the mall for the final few purchases.
15. Breast Feeding Baby Doll
There is no shortage of creepy dolls on the market today. In fact, dolls themselves are just plain creepy. There are dolls that crawl, dolls that eat, and dolls that talk. There is a doll for just about everything we could ever want to teach our children. There is even a doll that nurses. You read that right, a doll that mimics breastfeeding.
This doll mimics the sucking sound associated with nursing when held up to the sensor in the included halter top. Some people support this toy saying that it helps to normalize breastfeeding, which can only be a good thing for nursing moms everywhere. Other people argue that this doll crosses a line. The doll did not last long, and is no longer sold in stores.
14. Pet Rock
Need proof of the power of advertising? Look no further than the Pet Rock. Pet Rocks were first marketed, in 1975, as a collectible. They were created by a man named Gary Dahl, an advertising executive in California. The Pet Rock sold so well Dahl became a millionaire! Unfortunately for Dahl, the fad faded as quickly as it began, and sales of the Pet Rock dropped sharply just one year later.
Today there are any number of products inspired by the Pet Rock, including USB drives. And because we can never let a dead fad stay dead, you can still buy a Pet Rock today. They were rereleased by Rosebud Entertainment in 2012. There is also a small selection available on both Etsy and eBay. Of course, one could always go outside and find their own Pet Rock, no purchase required.
Furbies were first released by Hasbro in 1998 and every child in the United States had to have one. In fact, it became such a popular toy that the Furby was eventually released in 24 different languages. Furbies were one of the first interactive electronic toys. The toys primarily interacted with humans, but if two Furbies were next to each other they would also “talk” with one another.
Rumors abounded of haunted Furbies that came awake at night to torment little children in their beds. This was, of course, nonsense. Furbies are still sold in stores today. They are available in many different colors, styles, and themes. There is even a Furby app that lets kids (or adults if that’s your thing, we don’t judge) raise virtual Furbies.
Anyone who spends time on YouTube is probably familiar with unboxing videos. These are short videos made by people who film themselves opening packages of various things. Unboxing videos of toys are particularly popular and, in fact, inspired the next toy on this list. Hatchimals were developed as a toy that could “unbox itself.”
Called one of the hottest toys of 2016, Hatchimals are little robotic toys that hatch right out of their egg. To get them to hatch, kids have to play with the egg for thirty minutes or so. After the toy hatches, it starts to grow up. The toy does not physically grow of course, but its behavior does change over the next few weeks until it becomes an adult Hatchimal. Hatchimals certainly seems to be this generation’s answer to Furbies.
Tamagotchis are tiny little electronic pets that were developed in Japan by Bandai. They first hit the market in the mid-1990s and it is no exaggeration to say they took the world by storm. Every child wanted one, and many children wanted more than one. Essentially, Tamagotchi’s were tiny little handheld games where the goal was to keep the “pet” alive. Kids had to feed their pets, clean up their poo, and keep them happy.
And these toys were not inexpensive! But having a large collection of them was a must, so it is easy to see how this habit quickly became cost prohibitive. The popularity of Tamagotchis even spawned other handheld pets with similar mechanics, produced by different companies. And now, Bandai has brought the Tamagotchi back so that kids today can also know the joy of cleaning up digital poop.
10. Fidget Spinners
Fidget spinners are the newest toy craze on this list. They burst on to the scene just this last year when school children all over started showing up at school with them. Fidget spinners can be made out of any number of materials, but it is most common to see plastic ones. They have two or three prongs and are designed to spin on their own with very little interaction.
Many people have reported that fidget spinners help them to maintain focus on the task at hand. This is because it gives people something to do with their hands, something that they do not have to focus on. The toys are particularly helpful for people who have trouble sitting still, or those who have anxiety or ADHD. Still, there are concerns about the safety of the toys because there have been injuries reported.
9. Tickle Me Elmo
Here is another toy that we are sure everyone is familiar with: Tickle Me Elmo! First introduced in 1996, Tickle Me Elmo soon became the bane of everyone’s existence. From the insanely long lines and fights over the toy to Elmo’s incessant giggling, no one could escape his wiggly, red wrath. Some people were even injured in their pursuit of the toy! Seriously, no toy is worth getting injured over.
Basically, what happened was, the toy out-sold even the wildest of sales predictions. This meant that there was a severe supply shortage and many stores were left unable to meet the demand of their customers. Unfortunately for all of us, Tickle Me Elmo is still sold today. Although, thankfully, the craze has all but evaporated over the years.
8. Toy Drones
The toy drone fad took off at around the same time as another toy on our list: hoverboards. Drones started to become a thing that regular consumers could buy only a few years ago. They have really taken off in a short amount of time. Though, much like the hoverboard, there are some aspects of owning one that needs to be kept in mind.
Of course, there are normal safety concerns. Do not ever fly a drone straight at another person, for instance. There is also the law to consider. In many places, it is now illegal to fly drones above a certain height, and it can even be illegal to fly one without registering it with the Federal Aviation Administration. We have to wonder if all that hassle is really worth it.
7. Easy-Bake Oven
Easy-Bake Ovens are a staple childhood toy in the United States. Many of us had them when we were children, and they can still be found in stores today. This toy allows kids to safely cook their favorite desserts without much assistance from mom and dad. The oven used to use a light bulb element to cook the food, but that has been replaced by a proper heating element in recent years.
The Easy-Bake Oven has come under fire in recent years for being too gendered because the classic colors of the oven are white, pink, and purple. Hasbro, who makes the ovens, responded by producing models that appeal to all genders. Still, no amount of beautification and updating can change the fact that the food produced in the oven is garbage! If you want to bake bland food-like products, this is the toy for you!
6. Magic 8-Ball
Everyone has seen the rows of Magic 8-Balls gracing toy store shelves, but those of us who have purchased them can tell you they are not worth the money. First created in the 1950s, the Magic 8-Ball is a simple toy used for generating advice or telling fortunes. There are twenty possible answers inside a Magic 8-Ball. Each possible answer has an equal chance of appearing.
The Magic 8-Ball has genuine mystic roots, as well! The inspiration for the toy was spirit writing, a popular practice in the early twentieth century. Nowadays this toy can be found everywhere from specialty toy shops to Target. It doesn’t take long to tire of the toy, though. After all, how much fun can a person really get out of shaking a plastic ball?
Here’s a toy, first patented in 1999, that you can still find on the market today. Heelys! These shoes are the bane of people trying to walk around everywhere! Heelys are shoes with removable wheels in the sole. They allow the wearer to kick their wheels out and start skating anywhere, at any time.
It is not hard to imagine how this could quickly become obnoxious. In the early 2000s malls were filled with children and tweens zipping to and fro with their Heelys. Heelys has a dark side to them as well. They have been responsible for many injuries over the years, some of which have required surgery. Heelys are still on the market today, along with a selection of more recently developed wheel shoes.
Hoverboards took the world by storm in 2015. For Christmas that year many people were delighted to find a brand new hoverboard wrapped up under the tree. Celebrities had been photographed riding around on hoverboards for months, and us normal folks were just itching to get our hands on one. It did not take long for this toy to begin its dramatic fall from grace.
At first, the reports consisted of people taking such dramatic tumbles off their hoverboards that medical attention was required. Soon after Christmas Day, a torrent of reports started coming in of hoverboards exploding and catching fire! Before long the gadgets were banned on most streets in the UK, and deemed generally unsafe in the United States. Despite these issues, hoverboards have been making a comeback, with tighter safety regulations of course!
As any ‘90s kid will tell you, there was a time when pogs were everywhere. And if you were a kid in the ‘90s we know you spent some money on these plastic and cardboard disks. Pogs, a game played by throwing a “slammer” down on the edge of a stack of upside down pogs to see how many will land face up, originated in Hawaii. It was first popularized in the 1920s or 1930s and was played with milk caps.
In the 1970s, Meadow Gold Dairy began producing a fruit drink called Passion fruit-Orange-Guava, or POG. There is some disagreement over how the game made its resurgence, though some people attribute it to a marketing ploy for POG juice. Regardless, the game spread to the mainland and soon pogs were everywhere. Children and their parents were suddenly spending way too much money collecting small, decorated disks.
2. Silly Bandz
Occasionally (okay, more often than any of us want to admit) there is a fashion trend that attempts to blend toys with fashion. The first Silly Bandz were produced in 2002 by Japanese designers Yumiko Ohashi and Masonar Henada. These bands are bracelets made of silicone that come in tons of wacky shapes. Animals! Letters! Geometric shapes! Silly Bandz can be found in almost any shape imaginable.
There is just one tiny problem with this toy/fashion statement. The Bandz do not actually hold their fanciful shapes when worn! Seems like a pretty big design flaw to us. Kids may think they are getting adorable bracelets shaped like dinosaurs, but before they know it, their arms are covered in a colorful spaghetti of silicone.
1. Slap Bracelets
Slap bracelets were all over the place in the 1990s. They were a fun, perplexing fashion trend among children and teens. Invented by Stuart Anders, a school teacher in Wisconsin, slap bracelets were bracelets made of materials that allowed them to roll themselves around the wrist when lightly slapped up against it. Of course, kids will be kids, and soon these bracelets were being used for more than their original intention.
It is a well-known fact that some children are just mean. In the case of the slap bracelet, some mean kids took the “slap” part way too literally. Slap bracelets quickly became little more than weapons and children all over began deliberately hitting each other with them, with the intention of causing pain. You can still buy slap bracelets today, if you are so inclined, there are even blogs dedicated to DIY versions of this ridiculous toy.