The '90s toy market was a crazy time, full of one-of-a-kind wonders like Bop It, Tomagotchi, and the madness that was waiting to buy a Beanie Baby. It was good time to be a kid. But, unfortunately, there was some serious sexism lurking in the toy aisle that you may not have noticed as a child. Yes, while you were trading Pokémon cards with your classmates, there were a ton of ‘90s toys marketed to boys that girls loved just as much because these were fun — period!
Yes, gender-based marketing was definitely a thing a few decades ago, and one people didn’t seem to bat an eye about. Toys played directly up to tired old stereotypes about what boys should be into (gross stuff, video games, anything related to toy guns) and completely overlooked the fact that girls might be into them too. If they had simply realized that children’s interest go beyond gender norms, think of all the toys these companies could have sold.
The progressive in you is probably shaking your head at the very idea that this concept existed so blatantly back then, but, you know, at the very least it's good to take a look and remind ourselves that toys are toys, and are fun for all genders no matter how marketing portrays them.
1. Nerf Guns
This was essentially a toy gun that shot darts, and because it was gun based it automatically went into the "boy" category. But anyone who ever shot one of these things knows the fun a pelting someone with a foam dart. Some people still use them in offices for covert coworker wars, and, yes, that includes females.
2. Creepy Crawlers
Ew, bugs! Girls couldn't possibly be into those, right? That was reasoning behind marketing this product strictly to boys, which was a mistake, as plenty of girls find bugs awesome and would love to make them in this machine.
3. Power Wheels
While boys around the country got the awesome Jeeps and trucks in all sorts of colors, I had to settle for the Barbie Power Wheels, the girly, all-pink version. But what if I didn't want a pink car, Fisher-Price?
Kevin McAllister had one in Home Alone, so naturally kids wanted them. But they made a mistake in assuming that Talkboy meant that it was, ahem, only for boys, and made a Talkgirl marketed for the other gender. As a girl who grew up in the '90s, let me ask this: What was the difference?
5. Queasy Bake Oven
Here we get another tired repeat of the "Boys like gross things and girls don't" dynamic. Marketed as the male alternative to the Easy Bake Oven, this would have made a cool present for girls that would have been down to make those awesome-looking "gross" snacks.
6. Gameboys, N64, Or Any Game Console
I never noticed this before, but Gameboy actually has the gender marked right in it. For some reason, all video game-related products were relegated strictly to the boys' section.But I definitely played on all game consoles growing up and that there's no reason girls wouldn't like them. Seriously.