Clare Greeman – Toy Expert
During the resurgence of low rise jeans, the Twilight renaissance, and late 90s rom-com revivals that nobody asked for there will soon be no stone unturned in the quest for us Gen-Zer’s to relive our childhoods/infancy. That being said, there is one area in the discussion that is woefully lacking; the thing that actually fueled our childhoods are the things that got us through them: the toys.
I was not a “name brand” kid, we always got the Good and Gather Bear Bites rather than the Teddy Grahams that all the other kids had. Scratch Me Under the Armpits Elroy didn’t have the same ring as Tickle Me Elmo but you would’ve thought that my parents couldn’t notice the difference. That being said, I think this makes me the perfect person to break down the best toys of the 2000s because I lusted after them. For years I coveted the toys my friends had and I didn’t.
Starting with the worst on this list we have the My Little Pony. The ponies that I’m talking about share no resemblance to the dolls you see on shelves today, or even their animated counterparts. All of these ponies had synthetic hair, smaller eyes, smaller snouts and many unique designs separate from the ponies in the movies. These were the perfect gift for any horse girl who was desperate for someone’s hair to braid when all of the other horse girls stopped trading their Bella Sara cards with her.
Next on the list are Pillow Pets. I’ve already sang their innumerable praises (*2 issues ago- Clare) but I think we can all admit that two-in-ones are appreciated a lot more later in life.
Still, they make the list because of the way they all had us in a death-grip. Scented Pillow Pets, nightlight, jumbo – they were constantly coming up with ways to revolutionize the pillow game.
I was very happy to see the revival of Bratz happening recently and this time I think they’ve finally hit their stride. They came back at a time to see the kids who once had their dolls scrutinized by their parents for being too “adult” now becoming adults themselves and finding themselves embracing the dolls for their y2k aesthetic.
This brand was something different than the straight-laced Barbie dolls of the time. They were the Alex Russo to Mattel’s Hannah Montana, if you will. Not only did they have genuinely good outfits and showed great diversity, they also looked like the cool older girls you wanted to be when you grow up, not the one who only hung out with her boyfriend and little sisters.
(That is not to say that the Babrie movies and online games didn’t slap, because they did.)
Third place is snagged by Polly Pockets. I’m partial to the ones that appeared before the Polly Pockets most of us know and love. These were little plastic cases that opened to reveal little rooms. Polly was just a small figure that could walk around the rooms and stand next to different pieces of furniture. The draw of these earlier models were the portable and design aspects. As someone who still spends hours building Sims houses, this was where the real fun was at. But when other dolls like Barbies showed up the creators realized that dress up dolls were where it was at. So the Polly dolls became bigger, sprouted moveable limbs, and were sold with plastic clothes. The plastic was ingenious because they could never get dirty and although your cat would be ten times more likely to play with them, they wouldn’t be able to rip them to bits as easily. Like Bratz, Polly Pockets are having a comeback and are going back to their original roots.
Leading up to our number one spot are Littlest Pet Shops. Much like Polly Pockets they started out being sold with a pet and a little set for them to play on. But when the company realized that the pets were the real draw they started being sold individually or with little props. I think these toys had a lot to love; the concept was perfect for the little animal lover and with such a wide category to draw from, the possibilities were endless. Plus they were small and inexpensive which made them easy to get your hands on.
Taking the top spot for best girls toy of the 2000s is Webkinz. Though I’m sure you Club Penguin-ers are up in arms about this, the ranking of best kids web platform of the 2000s list is still coming. The real draw of Webkinz was, and what made it so ingenious, was that it was an online game and a toy all in one.
In person, Zazzy the Zebra might just be a toy, but online he had a rich interior life. You could dress him up, play games, and talk to friends online. Not only that but buying another Webkinz could up the fun twofold. I know the thing that kept me coming back was not the activities, but the concept of saving up to buy something at the Curio Shop. (insert a joke about how this is just preparing you for adulthood). For the kid who might have exhausted playing with dolls with friends, you could go online and play computer games for hours.