The 90s was a pivotal decade for South Africa. The country was moving towards democracy and the borders were opening up to the world after being shunned for Apartheid. This openness led to an impressive increase in access to toys and technology bringing in entertainment that has stayed with us since.

Life was slightly simpler, or at least it seemed to be. There weren’t viral videos and you had to wait for a specific time for your show to come on. Children were still encouraged to play outside and eat loads of sweets. TV “making your eyes square” felt like a possibility as the TVs were actually square.

Here are some of the incredible toys and times we left behind.


These Barbie-like dolls were a must-have for little girls in the 1990s. The doll came with an incredible perch and would zoom off into the air the minute you pulled the string.

Box TVs

Our televisions have come a long way but how could we forget the fat square TVs that sat in our lounges. With a slight static feel as you put your hands to the screen and a definitive click sound when you turned it off before your parents walked in the room.


Credit: Michael Kauper/ Flickr

Gummi rope was the perfect outdoor game. You could do it as a group and it wasn’t quite as difficult as skipping. Accompanied by a rhyme to tell you how to jump, this could last hours, getting more difficult as the rope was moved higher up your friends’ legs.


There was nothing like sipping an ice-cold Bibo. These sugary drinks were only released in Brazil, South African and Mozambique and they took off here. The bright red face was always a treat and they only cost R1!


Credit: @hagalaz/Twitter

Most likely your first loss, these virtual pets were subject to murder at the hands of 90s kids. Pressing buttons to feed or clean up after your little creature was a big responsibility and you felt awful when you failed. But never mind, onto another one.

Dial-up internet

That sounds will be with you until the day you die. South Africa first got dial-up in 1991 and we all sat while webpages loaded at painfully slow speeds. Meanwhile, our mothers were shouting to get off the internet because they needed to use the phone.

Troll Dolls 

While troll dolls have been around since 1959 in Denmark where they originate, they really took off in the 1990s. Everyone had one of these crazy dolls with the bright hair and jewelled belly button.


This is a South African classic. The bizarre green alien graced our screens on SABC between TV shows. During the kid’s segment, he would waddle around telling us what was coming up next. We knew our time with the TV was up when he told us “bye-bye” while walking off into the distance.

 VHS tapes 

Credit: Paul Sableman/Flickr

Disney, Universal and Pixar video tapes were everything when we were younger. Popping in one of the films from the collection ensured an afternoon was well spent and for parents, it meant the kids would be quiet for a while.

Picture: Michael Kauper/ Flickr

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