Toys We Miss

<p>Illustration by Meghan Holt</p>

Illustration by Meghan Holt

The 2000s were a time of rapid tech innovation. Instead of classic flip phones, our cell phones became sleek, small touch-screen computers. Bluetooth earpieces dominated the business world. USB flash drives made data storage easier than ever. But adults in the business world weren’t the only ones to experience this technological boom. Children’s worlds were revolutionized by the changing landscape of games and toy manufacturing. Suddenly, it was easier than ever to play video games whenever and wherever you wanted. Digital pets could keep you company from the comfort of your pocket. Toys became more intelligent. But, not all of this great technology was destined to live forever. Here are six discontinued toys from our childhood.


Released: 2005
Discontinued: 2009

Created by Sega Toys, the iDog was a robotic companion to popular MP3 players of the time (namely: Apple’s iPod). The dog-shaped robot could play music, interact with its owner through lights and sounds, and it could even bust a move. The iDog loved to dance– or, more accurately: wiggle its ears and head from time to time. Its relationship to music was the main feature of the toy. It could play and react to its own music, but it could also listen and react to music around it. The iDog could even develop its own personality based on the music it listened to, and would indicate its emotions using the multi-colored LED lights in its head. Though the iDog was first released in Japan, once Hasbro, a prominent American gaming company, brought it to the U.S., it went insanely viral. It spawned a line of several more ‘iCreatures’, such as the iCat, iFish, iCy and iTurtle. The iDog even had enough fame to have its own song: “Me, My Music and My iDog” by UK singer Jesta.

iPod Shuffle

Released: 2005
Discontinued: 2017

When Apple noticed the extreme popularity of the iPod’s shuffle feature, the company chose to release a smaller, cheaper alternative to their world-changing invention: the iPod Shuffle. The iPod Shuffle allowed users to load up to 240 songs onto the device. Then, they could shuffle their entire library with just a flip of a switch. Their design also captured Apple’s trademark sleekness and innovation: the first iPod Shuffle was no larger than a USB stick, but each new iteration saw the device get smaller and thinner. This made them extremely portable. The second generation of the device even introduced a built-in clip that allowed the iPod Shuffle to be easily worn. Its stardom was also undeniable: according to Apple’s 2005 CFO Peter Oppenheimer, the iPod Shuffle had captured 58% of the “flash-based digital media players” market by May of 2005. Combining portability with popularity means the iPod Shuffle undoubtedly scored many epic playground tales and family road trips.

Nintendo DS Lite 

Released: 2006
Discontinued: 2011

The Nintendo DS Lite was a slick, new iteration of Nintendo’s previous handheld console, the Nintendo DS (and it came in many different, customizable colors). The console itself, however, was merely a vehicle for some of the most popular handheld games of the mid-2000s: “New Super Mario Bros”, “Nintendogs,” and “Mario Kart DS” were the kings of the Nintendo DS Lite. MTV even reported that “New Super Mario Bros” gained enough popularity to take home the 2006 Teen Choice Awards title of “Choice Video Game.” And, of course, “Mario Kart DS” was the party game that took field trip bus rides by storm. The extreme portability of the console was key in contributing to its popularity. This portability allowed it to be played any time, any place. Combining this with the wide array of games unlike those on other consoles meant the Nintendo DS Lite had something for everyone, making it one of the most iconic pieces of tech from the 2000s.


Released: 2006
Discontinued: 2013

Nintendo’s Wii was a revolutionary console that introduced motion sensing technology to at-home gaming. This new technology allowed for the gameplay of “Wii Sports” to be possible. The motion sensing technology contributed a new and exciting feeling to virtual sports from bowling to baseball. Because each Wii came with “Wii Sports”, it quickly became a subject of many family game nights. Beyond “Wii Sports”, though, the Wii housed many iconic titles: including “Mario Kart Wii”, “New Super Mario Bros. Wii”, the “Just Dance” series, and a small number of Mario Party titles. These games were popular in all kinds of environments, from esports to school dances to simple hangouts among friends. “Mario Kart Wii” even gained enough stardom to earn it the title of “Favorite Video Game” at Nickelodeon’s 2010 Kids’ Choice Awards.

Pixel Chix

Released: 2005
Discontinued: 2009

Pixel Chix was a Mattel-owned brand that was marketed to younger girls looking to hop on the Tamagotchi craze. It combined hand-held plastic elements, such as a molded plastic room and uniquely-shaped case, with LCD screens. The screens would display a pixelated girl who could roam about the molded, plastic room as if she were really living in it. The gameplay was simple enough: feed the girl, dress her up, play games with her, and even connect two Pixel Chix toys together to have each ‘Pixel Chix pal’ meet each other and have fun. According to Mattel, the aim of the game was to level up your Pixel Chix pal to unlock new games, fashion, and more– but leave her alone for too long and she would walk out on you completely. There were certain efforts from Mattel to expand the toy line, such as the Pixel Pets, which played with the screen-flipping gimmick of the main toyline to introduce the idea of pets having their own secret lives. However, Tamagotchi outlived the brand after Pixel Chix was discontinued by Mattel in 2009.

Zhu Zhu Pets 

Released: 2009
Discontinued: 2018

Made by Cepia LLC, these robotic hamsters were a hit with kids in 2009. The Zhu Zhu Pets each came with their own name and personality. The toys also bore a unique symbol on their backs, which could be pressed in order to make them roam around their environment. A no-mess, robotic Zhu Zhu Pet is no doubt an easier replacement to take care of rather than a living creature, especially for an audience of young children desperate for a pet. According to the American Pet Products Association, small animals, including hamsters, sit in over 6.2 million American households. The Zhu Zhu Pet design had cute elements, like fun colors and features that were definitely popular with kids– popular enough to generate several video games (including some for the Nintendo DS and Wii), as well as several animated films. Unfortunately, Zhu Zhu Pets were quietly discontinued in 2013 only to be revived in 2016 and then discontinued again in 2018.


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