Now that the Christmas retail season is in full swing, we’re being pummeled by ads for the hottest toys, gadgets, cars, and everything else with a price tag. Consumers are flocking to the malls and outlets to find the perfect presents, and like every year past, one particular item or brand will stand alone as the most coveted. These products are not merely hard to find, but have been known to incite riots, empty bank accounts, and drive normally reasonable people to insanity in their hunt. The world of supply chain management is critical to the success of these products, as popularity in many cases relates directly to availability, be it the prevalence or lack thereof.
Here we’ll highlight the early half of the 1990s, where toys reigned supreme on the cusp of the dawn of the portable electronic age. Catch up on THE NINETIES (Part One) HERE.
THE NINETIES (Part Two)
1993-1994: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – Violent in content like several other top brands over the years, MMPR began as an American TV show that followed a group of five teenagers who could “morph” into colorful space ninjas that operate giant dinosaur robots to fight against aliens and other evil threats. however, rather than film their own fight scenes, the production reused clips from the highly stylized Japanese action show Super Sentai, and reserved their English speaking actors for lazy exposition and comic relief segments. Within three months of its September 1993 premiere, it had become the top-rated children’s program in the nation, and all brand-related toy, television, and movie franchises continue to be immensely popular to this day.
1992: Barney Talking Doll – Ugh, Barney. The TV show Barney & Friends followed the adventures of an anthropomorphic Tyrannosaurus covered in purple felt that danced around and sang educational songs to a group of frolicking children. Among the first in an era of highly annoying kid’s television programming, the show was runaway hit with the preschool crowd thanks to its constant song repetition and overwhelming optimism. The Barney Talking Doll made the repetition even better for the kids but worse for parents, concentrating the dino dialogue to four grating phrases, doomed to irritate anyone within earshot until the batteries died. Despite his overwhelming success, Barney’s show was voted one of the 50 worst of all time by TV Guide.
1991: POG – One of the greatest mysteries of the decade is how a simple game played with bottle caps by early 20th Century Hawaiians reemerged as one of the hottest toy and gaming fads among school-age children. The game itself involved smashing an opponent’s stack of thin cardboard wafers with a heavier piece with the intent of winning any of your opponent’s flipped wafers. As popularity soared, the game became ancillary to collecting the thousands of different brands and varieties of pieces that were released: before long, even fast food restaurants were releasing their own POGs. However, after many realized that the game was causing a wave of schoolyard fights and was also seen as an introductory form of gambling, POGs were banned worldwide and popularity resultantly declined.
1990: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Another violent entry in the top gift canon, TMNT first originated as a gritty and bloody graphic novel starring the title crime fighting posse, but didn’t gain mass appeal until the debut of the watered-down cartoon version developed in tandem with a line of action figures geared toward a much younger audience. Their relatable personality traits and penchant for pizza mixed with action packed storylines and recurring villains made the turtles irresistible to kids of all ages and still remains wildly popular to this day across all media formats. TMNT shares many similarities to the MMPR franchise previously mentioned, and both might be evidence that violence is a key to long term brand resonation and popularity.
UP NEXT: THE EIGHTIES