CIJ 2023 Through the Decades. The 90's Toys and Stocking fillers.

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Well-Known Member
Premiere Member
Apr 23, 2008
Canberra, Australia
Christmas in the 90’s

Toys and stocking fillers.​

In the '90s, online shopping wasn't a thing, it was a time before most homes did not own a computer and the internet was just used by NASA. When people wanted to do their Christmas shopping, they had to browse the bulky, enthralling, and entertaining store Christmas catalogues. Inside, you could find advertisements for everything from bubble dresses to bum packs, hot wheel cars and the longed for holiday Barbie. All you had to do was pick up the phone and call or visit the store in person and place your order!

In terms of technology, the 1990s was one of the most transformative decades in human history—it was the bridge between the analog and digital eras. At the beginning of the '90s, people stopped at payphones to check in with loved ones during long car rides, which they survived with cassette tapes and FM radios. By the end of the decade, those same people were sending text messages, downloading songs onto MP3 players, and using high-speed modems to perform Google searches online. Toys were not immune to the sea change. Personalized interactive toys and pocket-sized electronic games made the blocks, Slinkys, and Lincoln logs of old feel like relics.

Here in Australia we would start asking the kids for what they would like Santa to bring around September or so. We would head to Kmart or BIG W with list in hand, hope that the item was on the shelf and place all the gifts on layby. We would then pay a little off the balance every week and pick the items up a week or two before Christmas. The larger department stores here still have toy sales around June every year and will hold the goods to be picked up the last week of November.

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Cyber Monday wasn’t created until the mid-2000s, so people celebrating the holidays in the ‘90s didn’t have to worry about logging on at the dot of midnight to grab deeply discounted TVs and other electronics. The only shopping that happened in the ‘90s occurred either at the mall or via mail order. Parents couldn’t order online for their kids. No, they had to elbow through crowds in stores and pray that there was an interactive Elmo, Game Boy still available on the shelves, purchase it, lug it home and then find a good hiding place. Ah, simpler times.

Here are some samples of toys and stocking fillers that were most popular in the 90’s. I wonder how many of these were found under your tree on Christmas morning?

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Holiday Barbie


Game Boy Tickle me Elmo


Art set.


Toy microphone


*Polly Pocket


*Super Soaker Water guns

*Slip and Slide Water slides

*Beanie Babies

*Slap bracelets

*Sky Dancers

*Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Action figures

*Hot wheel cars

*Action Man



*Glitter shoelaces/roll on glitter/glitter everywhere.

These were all popular toys that were featured on Christmas wish lists from the 90’s. My kids had many of these. I was always so happy when I saw how excited the kids were when they opened a much longed for gift on Christmas morning.

And a little bit of trivia……..

Did you know that Blockbuster along with Neiman Marcus is responsible for modern gift cards? They introduced them in store back in 1994 and since then the plastic cards have replaced the sad paper gift vouchers that used to be available. When you got a gift card in the 90’s it was a novelty and most coveted.


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Well-Known Member
Premiere Member
Oct 13, 2007
Making a list from the sale papers was one of our favorite things to look forward to at Christmas. Did any of you ever camp out to get a gift as soon as the stores opened? The Gameboy is what made me think of that. We didn't camp outside the store, but we did sit in line in lawn chairs at Walmart for one.

Good job, Katrina!


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Premiere Member
Sep 12, 2009
I remember when Tickle Me Elmo came out. That was my first foray into internet shopping. My neice had asked for Elmo and it couldn't be found anywhere. My dad was in contact with a coworker in Japan but they couldn't get it. We watched QVC hoping they'd be selling it. No luck. Dh had a work computer with internet and I discovered I tried to get Tickle Me Elmo there but had no luck. My niece didn't get the toy that year but we were all on the look out for it after Christmas so she'd have it the following Christmas.

I worked in a preschool during college and post college. I remember Beanie babies, slap bracelets, Legos (Timeless!), that toy microphone and Slip and Slide. Beanie babies were the big rage with the preschoolers.


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Premiere Member
Aug 30, 2008
Long Island, NY
DS was big into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, of course, had a Game Boy he bought with his own $.

Lori K

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Premiere Member
Nov 13, 2018
A handheld GameBoy was a favorite in our household, with numerous games to interchange, and all things glitter, including shoelaces. And DD got her ears pierced in the 1990s, so lots from Claire's Boutique.