My 90’s Childhood- A Little Bit Of Nostalgia from a 1990 Baby
I can only look back fondly on the 1990’s. It was my entire childhood. I was born in the warm July (back then Seasons were Seasons) on my Mother’s birthday. Happy Birthday Mum! I already had three older siblings, two brothers and one sister, and life was good – I will ALWAYS be a 90’s Girl
It was a very different time. We were not yet slaves to our phones and computers. The roads were quieter, we weren’t under constant CCTV surveillance, and yet, we felt safer. The world was still a mysterious place open to exploration and interpretation – oh how things turned around so quickly. If you wanted to watch a television programme, you had to ensure you knew when it was on and cleared some time to watch it – occasionally setting the video tape to record over something else in order to have the luxury of missing your show.
If you made arrangements to meet someone, you had to be there. You couldn’t cancel last minute, there were no mobile phones, there was no WiFi, you just had to be there. You actually had to learn how to spell, because computers wouldn’t do it for you – you weren’t allowed to be lazy, to take a short-cut. But I digress, I’m not here to complain about how much the world has changed in the last sixteen years, no. I’m here to look back at some of the things that made my 90’s childhood just so amazing, and that make me feel privileged to have lived through such a fun decade.
The first toy on my list is the Babyborn Doll by Zapf Creations.
Like any young girl I wanted to mother a dolly. I wanted to feed and take care of it – so the Babyborn which ate formula and actually went to the toilet was the best thing ever. I even made my parents buy me both the White and the Black Doll. I wanted to pretend I had two babies to look after – I was always one for responsibility. I’ll never forget daring myself to eat some of the brown formula that you mixed with water, then throwing it all up afterwards.
The second doll on my list is Baby All Gone. Who could ever forget the wonderful smell of the can of cherries? It was like heaven in a pot. Some of the less sharp of us spent years of our childhoods trying to work out where the cherries on the spoon disappeared to. I longed for those cherries to be real. I wanted to eat them. The doll herself wasn’t actually that great. She had a big heavy head if I remember rightly, and a floppy stuffed toy body. But oh, those cherries!
Doll number 3 on my list is California Roller Baby. I used to love holding her hand and pulling her down the road. It was even better when I got my first pair of roller blades and I could scoot with her. I always wanted a matching outfit.
Barbie was absolutely everything to me. I had Barbies in boxes all over the house. But in particular, I’d like to talk about three Barbie things. The Heart Barbie, came with a beautiful silky polka dot heart top, a silky pink skirt and pink shoes. It was my dream outfit and my absolute most favourite Barbie Doll. Secondly, Tropical Splash Barbie came with these huge Hawaiian earrings, a beautiful bikini and the best thing ever, a bottle of Tropical Splash perfume which was just absolutely stunning. It’s making me smile just sitting here reminiscing. Lastly but not leastly, the Barbie Ferrari was my ultimate ultimate accessory. It was beaten up, sellotaped in places where we’d saved it from a Car Boot Sale, but it was mine, and I would race that thing down the hallway at home, my brother’s Action Man by my Barbie’s side (I never got a Ken, why waste a present when you can still your brothers Action Men and pretend?) Dreamy.
Next on my list, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the Spice Girls and their dolls. Whilst I will most certainly touch on other elements of their memorabilia later, I collected two of the Spice Girls Dolls, and I don’t know anyone who didn’t have at least one at the time. They were the must-have thing for girls and were a way of showing your loyalty to your favourite Spice Girl, they weren’t to play with, they were bought to show your support of your fav Spice!
I think Polly Pocket did so well because of the variety of toys you could buy. I had to have every single heart. I wanted the Polly Pocket Hotel with the Stamp Set, I needed the Polly Pocket flower ring, and you weren’t part of the gang if I didn’t have the Polly Pocket that hangs around your neck… memories.
Betty Spaghetti came about in the later years of the 90’s if I remember correctly. Betty’s had interchangeable heads/bodies/arms/legs etc. so the possibilities for play were endless. Her spaghetti hair was also particularly easy to braid and mess around with.
Sky Dancers were so elegant they made us all want to prance around like fairies, throwing ourselves off various items of furniture in the hope we would fly.
Cupcake Dolls were sweet, with cupcake skirts that upturned to create a cupcake case for storing your little doll.
How could I not mention Quints?! Five times the maternal fun with these tiny little dolls. I remember taking mine to Dublin on my first ever flight. I tucked them all in their little bed with their individual bottles to keep them warm and quiet on the flight.
Last, but by NO means least, I had to give these bad boys a mention. Whilst the collection we owned mainly belonged to my brothers, these Troll Dolls made for great monsters in my Barbie games.
Every little girl dreams of owning their own pony.
Sadly, not all of us are financially capable of such things. Who cares anyway? My Little Pony is a far funkier and fun way of getting close to horses. I used to love how much variety there was, combing their colourful hair with the little plastic brush.
No 90’s Toy Collection was complete without at least one or two Beanie Babies. I even bought the little plastic cases for the TY tags. When McDonalds ran them as their Happy Meal toy I went nuts! I kept going back into the restaurant to see if I could change my duplicates in order to get the entire collection – they were kind and let me 🙂 ( I can’t have been the only one).
Puppy/Kitten in my Pocket – oh how I loved to collect the score cards, lining up my collection on the shelf with pride, placing my three favourite pooches or kittens on the plastic winner’s podium that came with the dog show set – Crufts eat your heart out.
Love2Love Bears were THE sweetest keyrings a 90’s girl could carry. With a little bottle attachment and their scented tummies you just couldn’t help but adore and care for them.
I wasn’t privileged enough to ever own one, but O.M.G. how I wanted a Doodlebear. I’m not sure if they were as fun as they looked on the advert, but BOY did I want one! I wasn’t allowed Sylvanian Families either because my mum found them creepy and expensive, but I found them super cute and lusted over those adverts.
Why my Mum found Sylvanian Families creepy but bought me a Monkey in a leopard print bikini with a dummy and a bottle will always baffle me!
Care Bears and Winnie the Pooh teddy bears remained a staple of any good toy collection – mine have been banished to the back of the cupboard, but I’m still clinging on to them!
The 90’s saw a boom in electronic gadgets taking the toy charts by storm.
In particular Tamagotchis hit the scene like nobody’s business. Everybody HAD to have one. I remember they kept going off in Year 3 class so much so that the teacher banned them. I used to sneak mine in a tissue in my school skirt pocket so that I could keep on top of the school time feedings – I can’t have been that good at caring for them though as I’m sure I went through a fair few different animals!
Everybody had that one friend who’s parents had bough them Dream Phone. What a game. We used to feel so grown up playing and you were guaranteed a date at the end of it! Win Win!
Electronic toys were great for killing boredom. Particularly worthy of a mention is my Gamboy, cue; Tetris, Pokemon, Mario, Donkey Kong ..
Equally worthy was the Sega and then the Playstation 1. Many a cold night was spent in the back room playing Sonic and James Bond on the Sega until the wee hours. And, who could ever forget the headache inducing joy that was Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot and Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider on the PS1?
It certainly was a time for escaping reality – I held on to my Playskool Mic throughout my childhood in the desperate hope that someone, somewhere, would somehow here my dulcit tones and sign me up as the new Mariah Carey – it never happened. 🙁
And who could forget the fact that absolutely everything had to flash? Flashing deely boppers, trainers, wands, t-shirts, YoYos, Skip It’s, Robodogs…
Because I had such a big immediate family my mum always bought me toys geared towards creativity, mainly because this meant they were time consuming and took some thought.
Here are just a few of my favourites:
- Stud Decorator – I had the ability to ‘bling’ anything – way ahead of my time 😉
- Cra-Z-Art Glitter Nail Design Studio – need I say anymore?
- Mosaic Factory – which I got instead of …
- Chocolate Factory – a toy I always wanted but wasn’t allowed 🙁
- Etch-A-Sketch – who didn’t own one?
- Pottery Wheel
- Fashion Faces – I wish I had this now!
- Fisher Price Kitchen – I’ll never forget coming down on my 5th birthday before school, to find this in my living room all set up, just for me!
- Mr Frosty – because why not?! Even though it really took some elbow grease!
- Soap Maker
I touched briefly on the Spice Girls earlier on. But I need to take a moment to actually acknowledge just how much memorabilia this group of five young woman ended up throwing out into the world…
The dolls were but a drop in the merchandising ocean that the Spice Girls created. Overtime I amassed quite a collection of bits and pieces.
In terms of actual collectibles, I had the Geri and Baby Spice Dolls, I collected the Spice Girls post cards and kept them in my Spice album. My bedroom was covered in Spice Girls posters. I had the annuals. I watched the Spice World film on repeat. I had every album. I bought the Pepsi, the lollipops with the bubblegum in the middle, the lunch box and the flask, the jacket, the rucksack, the hair bobbles and bizarrely, my most favourite, but actually the cheapest of the lot, the inflatable dolls that came out with a series of Smash Hits magazines.
Whilst the Spice Girls were of course my number one 90’s band, there are certainly others that provided the soundtrack to my youth, namely:
- S Club 7
- Backstreet Boys
- All Saints
- Ace of Base
It may seem a random topic to touch upon, but, for any child at school during the 1990’s Stationery was a HUGE deal!
The mid to late 90’s saw a boom in the manufacture and sale of Gel Pens. They were absolutely everywhere! And, whilst incredibly inadequate writing equipment, they became so popular and caused such a storm that schools had to ban them in the classroom. The ‘swapsies’ were on another level!
To put it into perspective, I personally owned, all at once:
- A pack of Gelly Rolls
- A selection of Pentel Milky Pens
- Various Uniball Signo Scents, specifically my favourites; Bubblegum, Cola, Mint, Popcorn (YUM!), Watermelon, Grape (the strongest smelling), Blueberry, Strawberry and Pineapple
- A pack of Zebra Marble Pens
I was gifted a Dizzy Doodler Pen on my 7th birthday. Let’s just say it wasn’t conducive to improving my handwriting skills.
All girls played Britney Spears or Cher from Clueless at one point with their Fluffy Pens. I also don’t remember any girl in my class not owning this Groovy Chick Lunch Bag, Duvet or Pencil Case at some point or another.
And, speaking of Pencil Cases, how cool were those Disney secret compartment ones? Whilst they were too expensive for us to buy (we’ve got to remember by 97 there were 5 children in my family), I stumbled across a Pocahontas one at a School Fair. They were actually quite severely lacking in storage space, but I didn’t care, I finally had one!
The last thing I quite literally HAVE to mention are the Crayola Stamper Pens. Getting a fresh pack of those was worthy of a show off – it was especially great fun to crack out the lips pen and chase the boys round the playground – Kiss Chase anyone?
My first ever magazine subscription was to Wally’s World by Where’s Wally. In each edition he would travel to far flung corners of the earth and the issue would be based upon facts about that country. It came with a ring binder for organisation and a sticker to record which country you’d learnt about – cool huh? Learning is always cool!
At a slightly older age I subscribed to the Sabrina the Teenage Witch magazine, Sabrina’s Secrets, which came with beauty and style tips, show facts and a collection of accessories with each issue. My friends and I actually started a Sabrina Magazine Club off the back of it!
On the subject of T.V. shows, here are some of my 90’s favourites:
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch (obviously…)
- Saved By The Bell
- Kenan & Kel
- The Renford Rejects (can’t help it – brothers aye!)
- Rocco’s Modern Life
- Sister Sister
- Practically anything else shown on Nickelodeon – Hey, do you remember when they had presenters and you could apply to go on the show?!
- Anything Mary Kate & Ashley based
- SMTV Live – worth getting out of bed for on a Saturday
- The Worst Witch
- Rhubarb and Custard
- Ren and Stimpy
- The Simpsons
- Top of the Pops – this also became a ‘thing’ amongst my friends – each Friday night one of our poor families would have to host the 8 girl-strong sleepover that was based around the show
You weren’t a true 90’s girl if you didn’t get your clothes from either:
- Tammy Girl by Etam – Hippy Kitty? Glitter on everything? Flared Jeans? Foam Platforms? Hell yeah! They also had Puppy in my Pockets by the till! 😀
- Mark One – a cheaper version of the above but still a fashion house for 90’s chickadees
Sunglasses had to be tinted. HAD TO BE. High-heeled glittery silver/ gold jelly shoes and wooden clogs were everyday attire, and, earrings came in stick on plastic form.
I could go on for hours and hours about more amazing things from the 90’s, but I’ll finish here with just a couple more amazing things ….