The toys we grew up with were the best toys ever. And that's not just nostalgia talking. Our toys really did rock.
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Kids from today may have iPhones and iPads, but they don't have awesome toys like Popples, Lite-Brites or Furbies. Except, well, they do. Kind of.
It seems as if today's toy designers realized they'd never come up with anything as cool as the toys they were raised on, so rather than wasting time trying to invent something new, they just started bringing things back. Only kids from today are so tecnologically advanced, they couldn't be expected to be entertained by these simple toys in their basic form. So, in order to keep our tech-savvy youngsters moderately interested, they added tons of new bells and whistles, all designed to make them bigger, better, more awesome than anything we ever had. But did they? You be the judge.
Here are 16 toys that have recently risen from the grave with new, futuristic twists. Some might just be cooler versions of what we knew. Others might want to consider getting back to their roots.
How many of you remember slamming your hand down on the Simon game with every move, because if you didn't, it couldn't tell you touched it?
Well, there's no need to worry about that anymore because the new version, Simon Air ($20), is touch-free. You simply move your hand in the pattern it says, and it the game uses motion-sense technology to tell if you got it right.
Is it even really a game of Simon if your hand doesn't sting when you walk away from the table?
Back in the day, the View-Master really was the simplest of toys. Place a photo card in the slot, look inside the View-Master (and be sure to point it towards a window or bright light), and click through pictures of people, animals and places we could never dream of visiting.
Well, that simple toy from your childhood is a thing of the past. Aside from the touches of red and a somewhat similar shape, there's pretty much not one aspect of the new View-Master ($34) that in any way resembles the old-school version.
Designers assume today's kids would instantly scoff at having to look at simple pictures, so now it's a virtual reality experience. To use it, you not only have to purchase the experience packs, but also install apps on your smartphone (which gets inserted inside the View-Master, much like Google Cardboard).
I'm not going to say the VR capabilities isn't an awesome step forward, because it is, but if I want my small children to experince the joy of the modern day View-Master, I either have to buy them an iPhone or hand them mine. No thanks, View-Master.
3. EASY BAKE OVEN
It's safe to say that the Easy Bake Oven ($55) of today is nothing like the one you used to play with in your mama's kitchen, but the changes to this one are both good and bad.
The upgraded version wins points for being a pretty purple and not the puke-green or weird orange and yellow shades of the past. However, it no longer resembles an oven in any way, so it's a little hard for kids to imagine they're playing with the real thing. The door doesn't open, you just slide your uncooked pastries in one end and they come out the other side in all their magically baked glory, like a conveyor belt sandwich toaster, so I'm sure it's safer, but...meh.
Still, it's hard to ignore the fact that the creative possibilities with this thing are now pretty impressive. In it's hayday, all it made were tastless cakes. Now, you can do cookies, layered cakes, truffles, pizzas, soft pretzels and more. Definitley a step up. Especially if you're raising a hipster kid to enjoy artisanal snacks.
The original Lite-Brite was huge, and I'm not just talking about it's popularity, but the fact that it was the size of the 13-inch box TV I had in my room growing up. The size made it clunky to carry around, and the short cord meant you had to camp out next to the wall while you created.
Today's Lite-Brite ($28) wins points for scaling down and going cord-free, but what it gains in convenience, it lacks in just plain awesomeness. Gone are the paper templates that helped you create impressive images when you turned on the light, replaced with plastic templates on a much smaller scale. There's no mystery about what you're creating, and it takes only minutes to complete each one (versus triple that time back in the day). Not to mention: There's really not much difference when you turn on the light. Completing one of these used to be awe-inspiring. Kids of today aren't as impressed.
The side compartment for storing the pegs was a genius addition...but making one big enough to hold all the pegs it comes with may have been a better idea.
5. CABBAGE PATCH KIDS
When I was three years old, my mom scored one of the biggest toys of the year to put under the Christmas tree—a Cabbage Patch Kid. I loved my Cecil, and still have him to this day. Everyone who was anyone had at least one of these baby dolls, along with a birth certificate to prove it.
As time marched on, and dolls started to come with more and more functions, the Cabbage Patch's coolness factor started to wane. But the makers of Cabbage Patch aren't giving up just yet. With the introduction of their newest doll, the Cabbage Patch Kids Baby So Real ($120), they're hoping to be a hit with a whole new generation.
This upgraded Cabbage Patch is perhaps the most interactive doll on the market. The eyes open, close and look around, and it reacts with actual expressions. The doll also make sounds, laughs, plays, eats, burps and needs diaper changes. When it's tired, you can rock it to sleep, and when it develops a fever, medicine from a magic spoon makes it all better. And if all that isn't enough, connect to your virtual nursery with an app, where you can do even more.
6. MY LITTLE PONY
Can we just take a minute to talk about the fact that My Little Ponies aren't even all ponies any more? They do still make the pony figurines, predictably redsigned with modern lines and brighter colors, but Hasbro took this one even a step further by introducing a whole new group to the lineup, the Equestria Girls.
Image: Toys 'R' Us
The Equestria Girls follow the plot of one of the franchise's popular movies, where the ponies turn into high school girls, yet still retain many of their pony-like qualities. The girl-ponies have taken off in popularity, so even if it may be a bit odd, it's working. Personally, I say "neigh."
The original Furby was more than just a little bit creepy. A lot of that probably had to do with the fact that when it was released, Furby was the first "smart" toy we had any experience with. Toys that actually communicated were fun for some, and completely off-putting for others.
Fast-forward a few decades and toys that seem to think for themselves are pretty old-hat, so we're no longer startled when they wake up and say "hello." Not content to sit back and be the once-cool trailblazer, Furby has reinvented itself to be even more high-tech.
The newest Furby Connect is a little easier to understand, with an updated Furbish language that's not as far off from English. And even when you don't quite know what they mean, they get their point across with eyes that display over 150 animations to let you know exactly what they're thinking.
Not to be outdone by many other app-connected toys, Furby can connect to a virtual world where there are even more ways to interact.
There was a time when nearly every pre-teen girl had a Tamagotchi in their pocket, and they spent all of their free time trying desperatly to keep their computerized pet from suffering a slow, agonizing death of malnourishment. That was a lot of pressure for a kid. But if you thought that was bad, you haven't seen the newest Tamagotchi. In the updated version, you're no longer fighting to keep an animal alive. This time, you're raising humans,
Image: Tamagotchi Friends
The physical appearance of the toy hasn't changed much, but Tamagotchi Friends ($20) has been completely updated. Despite the still-grainy graphics, Tamagotchoi devices can now talk to each other, so with a few simple button presses you can send gifts and text messages to nearby friends. Your digital friend can even visit other devices, and earn points to buy cool virtual stuff. Connect to the virtual world with an app to make even more friends, play games and more.
Thanks to the instant popularity of their new movie, Trolls have made a comeback in a big way (suspiciously, just in time for Christmas).
Image: Toys 'R' Us
The only thing the new Trolls have in common with the originals is their hair. Other than that, we're basically looking at a completely different toy. They come in wild colors, they have accessories, and some are even animated. Despite the fact that this updated Troll is a huge stretch from the ones many of us used to collect, you have to admit — these are cute. Plus, they can really carry a tune, so there's that.
10. BABY ALIVE
The original Baby Alive ate and pooped. That's it. And after a few feedings, she tended to clog up and didn't really do either anymore.
The neweset version, Baby Alive Baby Go Bye Bye ($50), not only drinks and wets, but she talks and crawls around, too. Despite all the fabulous updates, one thing still hasn't changed--this isn't a doll that's fun to cuddle.
11. CARE BEARS
I'm actually impressed with the fact that after their reintroduction, Care Bears are still pretty much the same toys we grew up with. The newer dolls don't look much different from the ones released 30 years ago.
Image: Just Play
But wait: They do have a hidden talent, though. The Care Bears Sing-a-Longs ($25) can carry a tune, and when you get them in a group, they harmonize. That's right, you heard right. They harmonize. My 6-year-old self is swooning so hard right now.
If you were a pre-teen girl in the early 90s, you probabaly had Skip-It, and you may even still have ankle scars to prove it.
The Twister Rave Skip-It ($20) lights up, so it's best when used in dim lighting, and the lights change as you progess levels. While the addition of the LEDs admittledly brings in a whole new level of awesome, they removed the counter, so you have no way of knowing if you beat your friend by just two hops. They've also improved the materials, using a softer rubber that won't leave you bruised and limping.
Today's Popples do a lot more than just bounce, they talk!
The new version does bear a striking resemblance to the original toy, with only exagerated features and a less-stuffed body to give it away. But the Bubbles Talk and Pop Plush ($20) has one extra trick up her sleeve: She repeats 11 phrases from the Nextflix show with a squeeze to her belly.
Say goodbye to Monopoly money, folks. It's a thing of the past. The upgraded game, Monopoly Ultimate Banking ($25), bids adieu to paper money once and for all.
But not in the same way that they don't use money in the future on Star Trek.
Instead, each game comes with a digital banking machine, and every player is given their own personal bank card for keeping track of finances. With just a swipe, players can now buy properties and set rent amounts and collect rewards... no counting required. It takes away from the math skills Monopoly might have helped, but kids get a peek at modern banking—plus the mess factor is greatly minimized, so these changes are probably more of a win for Hasbro.
There's a good chance one of your very first gaming systems was a Nintendo, and there's also a very good chance you're waiting impatiently to snag the newest release, the NES Classic Edition ($60).
Image: Best Buy
The newest version of the game hold on to a lot of the original design points. It looks exactly the same, though it's much smaller in size, and still has wired (yes, wired) controls. This re-release does have some notable upgrades, most importantly, 30 of the most popular games come preloaded onto the system. This means no blowing on the games or the system to get things to work properly. It also means you can save your game progress, which was unheard of in the era of the original. (Want to know more? You can read our detailed look at this blast from the past.)
This one may be more for you than your kids, but we're guessing they'll like it too — if they can get past the still-pixelated graphics.
16. TEDDY RUXPIN
Hold on to your seats, Teddy Ruxpin fans. Our boy is making a comeback, and word is there will be some big changes.
Image: Wicked Cool Toys
Wicked Cool Toys has anounced a partnerhsip with Alchemy II to release a new version of our favorite talking bear, thought it won't hit stores until July 2017. The most noticeable change will be his eyes, which will be full-color LEDs instead of the hard plastic we're used to, and they'll be able to look around, react and display animations.
There's no need to swap out casettes if you get bored with the story Teddy is telling. Now he'll change to a new one with just the squeeze of his hand. He comes with 10 stories pre-loaded, but you unlock tons more by visting an app, where readers can also follow along with him. And fans will be glad to know that the original stories and illustrations you read as a child will be included in his digital library, so none of that good stuff was left behind.