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’90s Fads, Toys, and Trends

June 27, 2012

The ’90s were the decade of my youth. They were my most formative years. I’m very nostalgic when it comes to this decade. In honor of the decade that brought us the Carlton Dance, Ecto Cooler, troll dolls, and aqua socks, I have put together a list of some of my favorite toys, fads, and trends from the era. Some of these trends, fads, and toys are alive and well and some have been put to rest. Here is a list that I have constituted:

Blazers with T Shirts

This move was patented by Johnny Dakota who said he visited Bayside to shoot a public service announcement but really just wanted to make moves on Kelly Kapowski. The trend was also popularized by Zach Morris in Saved By The Bell, Christian in the movie Clueless, Mike Seaver in Growing Pains, Steve Sanders in Beverly Hills 90210, and Damon Wayons in the movie Mo Money. A similar trend, wearing a blazer with jeans, was perfected by SNL Weekend Update anchor Dennis Miller.

The Nerf Turbo

Before there were performing enhancing drugs, there was the Nerf turbo. The ball was nuked. It was a game changer. It was an equalizer. Due to its aerodynamic shape, all of the sudden kids who hadn’t hit puberty yet in the 6th grade became John Elway at recess. Kids could throw this ball about 40 yards further in the air than a traditional TLJ football.  No one ever ran screen passes with this ball. It was a waste of time. It was spread offense and fly patterns or go home.

Long Hair

Axl Rose and Curt Cobain brought long hair into the mainstream on stage. Rod Belding, contrasted by his bald old brother Richard, made having long hair seem rebellious and cool with his wilderness vibe.

Crocodile Mile

It was a kid’s dream and a parent’s nightmare. The Crocodile Mile was a staple at end of the year grade school parties where the host had a big yard and a blatant disregard for its appearance. It was highly fun but highly destructive. It could turn a lawn that looked like Wimbledon into a war zone within hours. Kids would always get hurt as the runway was rarely big enough. It needed to come with an insurance plan.


You could generally find these beauties at JC Penny’s or in the 700 level at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. They were breathable and also provided additional heat as a result of the neck warmer aka mullet that usually accompanied them.

Reebok Pumps

The look on Marty McFly’s face when he first saw the power lacing sneakers was priceless. That was how I felt about the Reebok pumps. I was mesmerized by them. When Hank Gathers passed away, I engraved the #44 into my pair. They were my favorite pair of sneakers that I ever owned.

TurboGrafx 16

I liked to go against the grain as a kid. While other kids were buying the original Sega, I went with Turbo Grafx 16. It was a mistake. It only came with one controller and the sports games didn’t have official licensing so the players were all named after the Japanese guys who programmed the game. On a side note, Fuku was Barry Bonds in the baseball game. The only thing the system had going for it was Bonk’s Adventure.

Mini Vans

Today it seems like most large families have SUVs. In the ’90s, people drove mini vans. I have five older siblings and our mom used to drive a gray Chevy Astro van. During his formidable early teenage years, my older brother used to hide in the back seat whenever we passed girls in the street. He was embarrassed by it. The back seat area was very spacious. Pinnies and orange slices were sold separately.


Umbro ruled the early 90s and their prevalence was greatly helped by the fact that many gym classes made them an essential part of their uniform. They were tight to say the least. They made every male look like a modern day version of a player on Hickory in Hoosiers.

Slap Bracelets

These things used to make bus drivers go crazy as sounds of snapping used to echo throughout the bus. They went viral big time during the early part of the decade but then saw a big dip when rumors spread that a kid had accidentally slit his wrist while playing with them.


These were a fixture on ’90s boy bands and kids held against their will in family portraits. The mock version could also be found on various lead male characters on Beverly Hills 90210 in conjunction with their blazers. They have lost their fashion steam in the modern era and now are often used at ugly sweater Christmas parties and are commonly referred to as nerdlenecks.

Other Notables:

-Skip It
-Lazer Tag
-Super Soakers
-American Gladiators

  1. for girls, I’d also like to add those babydoll t-shirts and dresses. not flattering. though they were certainly an improvement on the early 90’s grunge where I used to wear my dad’s jeans and flannels.

  2. Flannels were very big with Al Borland and Wilson, the neighbor from Home Improvement.

  3. Heidi G. permalink

    Yes, Monica! Babydoll dresses from Contempo Casual worn with Doc Martens boots was my go-to.

  4. Laura V. permalink

    UMBROS! Also, girls and body suits. Those were amaze.

  5. Eileen permalink

    Oh my gosh, Monica is so right with flannel! My father would not let me leave the house with my flannel untucked. So I had to tuck a flannel shirt into my jeans with a belt. That certainly came undone by the time I got to the Bonner fair:)

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