The late 1990s/early 2000s were a sort of scary time in fashion, but they were the perfect time to be a kid because the toys were fantastic. If you're between the ages of 16 and 25, you probably remember every single one of these and are about to get hit with a solid dose of nostalgia.
American Girl Dolls were my jam. I proudly owned 14 of them. I got my first one when I was four (Molly was the best, right?) and I was hooked for the next eight years or so. Every birthday gift and Christmas present was an American Girl. Every time I had enough money to buy one for myself, I bought one. But hey, they were educational, so my parents couldn't really complain.
Blessedly cheaper than American Girls, Webkinz were another favorite of mine. Every time my mom made me go buy new clothes at Justice of Limited Too (RIP), I got a new Webkinz. The stuffed animals were clutch, but the real draw was having them online and building them little bedrooms and playing the games with them. Basically, I lived my life to go gem mining and wish at the Webkinz wishing well every chance I got.
3. Polly Pocket
Yes, '90s kids, I am aware that you had Polly Pocket before we did, but we still loved them just as much. I had more than 100 of those little plastic dolls with their weird rubber clothes that are impossible to change now that I am old and have big hands. Polly's friends, accessories, cars, boats, pools, rockstar stages, and every other unnecessary thing that I thought I needed at the time were the coolest. They were always my best friends when I went to the beach or the pool because they could go in the water and not be damaged. Plus, they were decently cheap and her computer games and movies were awesome. Win.
We were born right alongside Build-A-Bear, which was founded in 1997. We grew up with them. Everyone remembers the commercial of the girl whose mom takes her in the silver minivan to build the tan bunny that she dressed like a rockstar and the voice saying that she had built her best friend as she walked out of the store. I had an embarrassing number of these too, so obviously, the marketing strategy worked well.
I am fully aware of how old Barbie dolls are and the fact that millennials (whether on the young end, like me, or the older end) were not the first to play with them. But we did still play with them. A lot. Barbie got really cool when we were kids too. Suddenly she wasn't just pretty, but she had jobs and her friends were diverse and all kinds of other awesome stuff.
6. Calico Critters
These fuzzy little guys were such a great time. I only had a couple of sets, but they were fabulous. Soft little animal families that wear cute outfits? Yes, please!
7. Gameboy (Advance) SP
If you didn't have a Gameboy (Advance) SP, I can assure you that you didn't live. If you did have one but didn't play the Kim Possible game, then you majorly missed out and I'm sad for you. Basically, this was a roadtrip life-saver.
8. Littlest Pet Shop
Littlest Pet Shop, those tiny little plastic animal bobble heads, were adorable. They had cool houses and some of them had magnets in their paws/hooves/feet/whatever else so that they could do stuff like open doors. If you didn't have 50 or more, you're either lying or were very sad as a kid.
9. Lite Brite
Another one that isn't uniquely in this age gap, but still a staple for us, the Lite Brite was fantastic. The miniature ones came in clutch on road trips and basically they were just cool.
10. Club Penguin
Club Penguin was Disney's way of taking us over and making us little brightly colored electronic penguins who wanted to do nothing but run around annoying each other, getting puffles, and eating pizza. It might sound weird in hindsight, but you know how cool it was at the time.
Basically, if we weren't playing outside, you could catch us with one or all of these toys living our best lives.