Pokemon, Tamagotchi, Polly Pockets... Having been born in the early 90s, I have lived through more than a few crazes, as we all have. Some were bigger than others, and some were more important to girls than they were to guys, and vice versa, but all of them at one point captured the attention of young Irish people.
By far and away the biggest craze in my life. Every one had Pokemon cards, to trade and collect. And while no one understood how to actually play with them once we got them (apparently all of those numbers below the pictures actually meant something), but that didn't stop us. This craze soon moved to the Gameboy, and battling your friend with a link cable was the most intense ten minutes you could ever experience.
This was a trading card game slightly less popular than Pokemon, although it did have one advantage in that people actually knew how to play against each other, while also collecting and trading cards to build up their own 'deck'. The building of decks actually became so intense in my primary school that they were eventually banned, because fights started breaking out over them. Actually now that I think of it the same thing happened with Pokemon cards. So ye, you wouldn't want to mess with my school. We're hardcore.
Football Sticker Albums
Looking back, I am convinced that sticker albums are the greatest money-making scheme to ever be invented. You would buy a book with no pictures in it, only to pay more money to stick them in crookedly, with no guarantee that you wouldn't get the same sticker 15 different times. But we loved them, and getting your new Merlin Premier League Sticker Album was almost, if not more, exciting than the actual start of the Premier League. And of course this excitement tripled when it came to Ireland being in the 2002 World Cup and the official sticker album that went along with it.
I realise that the first three crazes have been aimed more at guys, although I know more than a few girls have obsess over evolving their Charmander, or collecting the last 'shiner' to complete the Man United page. But in the interest of fairness I will of course mention the Polly Pocket phenomenon, and how obsessed kids got with buying one, only to lose it 30 seconds later because was smaller than your finger nail. To be fair though, the heart-shaped, fold-up houses were pretty bad-ass.
To this day, I maintain that the things I learned while looking after my Tamagotchi are all the skills I will need if and when I become a parent. Too many hours of my childhood were wasted making sure that little b*stard didn't die.
If you had a pair of light-up runners on, you were instantly 20% faster than you would be if you didn't have them on. Everyone knew this, including your parents. At least I think that's why they bought them for me. Either that or they just bought them to stop me annoying them. But no 6 year-old has ever been annoying. Right?
I'm pretty sure this one applies to any age group, when at one stage or another you will have thought that scooters, or skateboards, or Rollerblades, were the best, fastest, and coolest way to get around. What I can say though is that the scooter really took off during my childhood, and if anyone was ever lucky enough to get an electric one, they were the coolest motherf*cker on two wheels. Some of the older people in my area at the time also had petrol scooters, but my parents convinced me that they were the most dangerous invention ever and that I would be instantly killed were I ever stupid enough to try one.
Again, this is a craze that has hit a couple of generations, but like the scooter, it took off hugely during my childhood, with a re-branding, and the release of modern decks based around movies like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and TV shows like the Simpsons. Many a bus and car journey were spent on the sometimes epic games, that could last anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour.
Learning To Draw This
When you see the picture you'll all know what I'm talking about. Anyone who was lucky enough to have an S at the start of their name could use it to great effect. Everyone else just covered their copy with it for fun. You weren't cool until you could draw one. For anyone still unaware, a handy step-by-step guide has been posted below.
Paper Fortune Tellers
Another thing that made you even cooler in primary school, if you could make a fortune teller, you were often asked to make 10 to 15 of them in a row. I might be exaggerating slightly, you get the idea. Your whole life could be decided by that little piece of origami.
You could measure the success of any song from the early 00s by how many people had the polyphonic version on their phone. People would spend an absolute fortune subscribing to different services just to download them, e.g. Jamster. And of course, once one person had it, they could share it with all their friends through the magic of infra-red. In just 5 short minutes, you too could have the same chart-topping hits as your friend. Although under no circumstances could you move the phones even one millimetre, for fear of losing the connection and having to start over again.
I would include this little f*cker with the polyphonic ringtones and broaden it out to just a 'ringtones' paragraph, but I felt he deserved one all on his own. I mean he did have a video game made of him after all. From the humble beginnings of a ringtone, he grew to have a chart-topping album, a clothing line, and of course the aforementioned game. Here is a video of the original ringtone to bring back all of the horrible memories.
But of course, phones were not just used for ringtones. Snake was arguably an even more important handheld game than Pokemon on the Gameboy, and it was an endless battle to see who could get the high score. I am of course only referring to the very first Snake game, and possibly the second one where the ability to go through the walls and come out the other side added its own challenges. But under no circumstances are we ever to talk about Snake 3-D. That game was an insult to the memory of the first two games and I regret even mentioning it in this article at all.
For a long time I viewed the making of Scoubidou bracelets as witchcraft, and anyone that could make one was not to be trusted. That was of course until my Mam showed me how to do it, and the once tangled mess of plastic string turned into a beautiful bracelet. Of course I am very loose in my use of the word 'beautiful'.
When Lance Armstrong released the yellow 'Livestrong' wristband to show support and raise money for his cancer research charity, little did he know that he was starting one of the weirder crazes to hit Ireland. At the height of it, young people would be walking around with 15 to 20 wristbands. On each arm. It looked ridiculous, but it did at least some good for charity. Plus some of the more elastic ones made for some pretty good missiles and slingshots.
When searching for an image of the shoes with wheels in them, I have found out to my great surprise that Heelys are still on sale. And while some people may still be investing in a pair, they will never be as popular as they were in the early 00s.
Everyone has fond memories of MSN, and there was a great article posted recently on the site of all the things we miss about it.
Another online craze that started in and around the same time as MSN, deciding who was in your top 16, and who was your other half for that matter, was one of the hardest decisions you ever had to make. For these and all the other things you remember from many people's first experience of social media, see this other brilliant article also posted recently.
We all got a little bit crazy during some of these fads. The only hope can be that you didn't lose too many friends over any of them, and that scare from the fight you had with your best friend over a Charizard Pokemon card isn't that noticeable anymore.