Remember the unbridled joy of walking the aisles of Blockbuster Video on a Friday night, getting hopped up on Red Vines and Dr. Pepper before tucking in your Tamogatchi and challenging your friends to a few rounds of Goldeneye (slappers only)? Let’s revisit the glory days of the late ’90s with a look at eight of the hottest toys of 1997.
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In 1997 every kid wanted to find this classic rod-and-connector building system wrapped up for a birthday or holiday. Unlike the more detailed Lego sets, K’NEX were geared towards larger constructions with an emphasis on larger, moveable builds like Ferris wheels and roller coasters.
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Tickle Me Elmo
Tickle me Elmo was so popular when it was released in the winter of 1996, that its release caused arrests, fist fights, and even (multiple) trampling incidents. While things chilled out a bit the next year, the toy was still popular enough in 1997 to win the Toy Retailers Association's Preschool Toy of the Year Award.
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The Toy Retailers Association gave the Most Innovative Toy of 1997 award to the Tomagotchi, and for good reason. These Japanese virtual pets required attention and care to keep them “alive,” ensuring that kids would stay engaged with the toys. They were so popular that they set off a virtual pet craze that saw knock-offs like Gigapets and lasted into the 2000s.
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Nintendo 64 came to the US in 1996 but was still holding extremely strong through ’97 thanks to its unique controller and collection of games. It’s standout multiplayer hits like Mario Kart and GoldenEye 007 changed how kids interacted for the next decade.
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Star Wars Monopoly
The original Star Wars trilogy was digitally remastered and re-released in 1997 which spurred a resurgence of figurine purchases as well as games geared to fans of a galaxy far, far away. This Monopoly set, which won the Toy Retailers Association's Game of the Year, was merely a reskinned version of the standard game. But who cares?
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While Beanie Babies were introduced in 1993, they reached a fever pitch in the mid-nineties when company Ty started limiting the number a store could purchase. This created a scarcity which made demand skyrocket. By 1997 they were a sensation for both kids and investors.
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N64’s GoldenEye came out in ’97 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest games ever made. We couldn’t agree more. The game’s movie-based story was engaging enough, but the multiplayer changed how people approached the first-person shooting genre. Funny enough, the up-to-four player split screen mode was something that game designers worked on for fun themselves and wasn’t even a part of the title until very late into production.
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