Nos­tal­gia gives retro toy re­vival a fes­tive bounce

Par­ents take kids back to the fu­ture

Sunday Times - - News Playtime - By NIVASHNI NAIR

● Liv­ing out the plot of a Christ­mas movie, Durban mother Rozann Naicker has been on the hunt for one of this year’s highly soughtafter toys: the Ta­m­agotchi.

No, you didn’t read that wrong — and this story is not a re-print from the mid-1990s. The Ta­m­agotchi is back, along with a host of other retro toys.

Dur­ing her search for the ’90s pocket pet for her nine-year-old daugh­ter, Naicker, 33, bought her­self an old-school hand­held game be­cause it took her back to her ar­cadegame-play­ing days at the lo­cal tuck shop.

Eight­ies and ’90s kids are re­joic­ing as toy re­tail­ers are cater­ing to nos­tal­gia by go­ing back in time to bring this year’s must-haves — the Ta­m­agotchi, clas­sic TV games, the Ru­bik’s Cube, Slinkys and even a re­make of PlayS­ta­tion 1.

Glob­ally, retro toys have been de­scribed as this year’s big­gest Christ­mas joy as par­ents re­live their child­hood through their chil­dren.

Naicker wants her daugh­ter, Cyan­nah, to ex­pe­ri­ence the same ex­cite­ment and re­spon­si­bil­ity she had when she owned a Ta­m­agotchi.

“I grew up in the era when Ta­m­agotchis were an in­stant hit. I loved it and I want my daugh­ter to share the same joy of own­ing one,” she said.

Game’s mar­ket­ing man­ager, Elis­a­beth Ric Hansen, told the Sun­day Times that retro toys ap­pealed to par­ents be­cause they en­gen­dered a nos­tal­gic feel­ing in an age in which tech­nol­ogy was dom­i­nant.

“These prod­ucts are hy­brid in na­ture and can be con­sid­ered a toy with tech­no­log­i­cal fea­tures, which ap­peals to kids to­day, as well as to their par­ents. These prod­ucts come in at an af­ford­able price point — so con­sumers get bang for their bucks.”

While other chil­dren will re­ceive the lat­est game con­soles and new tech toys, 13year-old Eli­jah Ma­haraj is set to find a Walk­man un­der the Christ­mas tree.

“He ac­tu­ally came across his dad’s col­lec­tion of old cas­settes and was fas­ci­nated by it, so we ex­plained how they work. He im­me­di­ately asked if he could get a cas­sette player,” said his mother, Sud­hira Ma­haraj.

Ma­haraj re­cently bought Eli­jah a mini ar­cade machine.

“The minute I saw the mini ar­cade machine, mem­o­ries of my child­hood came flood­ing back. Some of the favourites were Road Fighter, Cir­cus Cir­cus and Mario Brothers. My hus­band's all-time favourite still is Snow Bros.”

On­line re­tailer Takealot.com has recorded a huge de­mand for retro gam­ing this fes­tive sea­son.

“The Nin­tendo Clas­sic Mini Con­sole boast­ing retro games like Super Mario Bros and Don­key Kong, was re­leased ear­lier this year and has flown off our vir­tual shelves. PlayS­ta­tion is also re­leas­ing a re­make of the PlayS­ta­tion 1 just in time for Christ­mas and gamers can’t get enough, with pre-or­ders stream­ing in,” Takealot.com chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer Julie-Anne Walsh said.

Takealot.com does not be­lieve that retro toys ever went away.

“Ev­ery year our best­selling toys are the more tra­di­tional, long-es­tab­lished brands like Lego and Bar­bie, which have been firm favourites for gen­er­a­tions. The prod­ucts might dif­fer year on year but the brand re­mains the same.

“We also see year-round de­mand for old-school su­per­hero prod­ucts like Spi­derMan, The In­cred­i­ble Hulk and Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles,” Walsh said.

Other old favourites in­clude swing­ball, and board games such as Monopoly and Cluedo.

“Par­ents are buy­ing toys for their chil­dren that have sen­ti­men­tal value for them too. These toys are also just re­ally good, clean fun. It’s a win-win,” Walsh said.

Natasha Govender of Puz­zle Un­lim­ited, a toy stall that has been op­er­at­ing in Durban’s Sta­bles Life­style Mar­ket for 27 years, said many of her cus­tomers want to re­live their child­hood mem­o­ries with their own kids.

She has sold more than 100 pocket pets in the last two months. “The ma­jor­ity were sold to adults,” she said.

Pic­ture: Jackie Clausen

Zoe Grove learns to solve a Ru­bik's Cube with her fa­ther Leon Grove.

The Ta­m­agotchi

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