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Ticke Me Elmo - Toys of the 90s

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Ticke Me Elmo - Toys of the 90s

 

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There is a fad of the 90s that should be rather be considered as a craze or mania, that is the case of Tickle Me Elmo, which caused a really crazy reaction from parents who literally struggled in toy stores to get one for Christmas.

Produced by Tyco-Preschool, a division of Tyco Toys it was released in 1996, becoming that year's top fad being the "must have" toy of that year. Moreover due to the unexpected high demand of the toy that could not be covered, toy stores were forced by the situation to increase the price of these dolls from the original U$S 28.99, in some cases to levels as crazy as the fad itself.

An example of the reaction caused on people is what happened on December 14, 1996, whe Robert Waller a clerk at a Wal-Mart store in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada was injured by  customers during a Midnight Madness sale. A crowd of 300 stampeded down the aisle after spotting him being handed a box of the toys by another employee. According to People, the clerk "suffered a pulled hamstring, injuries to his back, jaw and knee, a broken rib and a concussion".

Thanks to the combination of different factors necessary to make a simple product entice and become one of the biggest desires of customers this toy was one of the most wildly-successful dolls since the Cabbage Patch Kids in the 80s.

It was invented by Ron Dubren, who saw in 1996 a couple of kids playing in the park. Watching the youngsters tickle each other until they erupted in giggle-fits, having the idea to create a stuffed animal that would react in a similar way when tickled by its owner. He created a stuffed monkey with an electronic computer chip housed in its stomach that produced a “giggle” when it was tickled.

Initially it was passed on by toy companies until it was seen by Tyco which liked the doll, however because they did not produce plush dolls they were forced to pass on it.

When Tyco got finally the license to make dolls based on Sesame Street characters, they tapped Dubren and his ticklish-doll idea. They applied the technology to Elmo, a childlike red puppet who was a favorite with young Sesame Street fans. The result was Tickle Me Elmo, a doll who presented a unique series of reactions according to the tickle-attack.

With the first tickle it giggled. The second tickle made him say “Oh, no! That tickles.” Finally the third tickle was the clincher, making the doll erupt into a flurry of infectious giggles.

It was released just in time for the holiday shopping season of 1996. Although Elmo dolls had been available long before Tickle Me Elmo, was something different.

The popularity of the toy was pushed even more when Rosie O’Donnell featured the doll in her TV program and sung its praises on.

The Tickle Me Elmo was over after the holiday season of 1996, but the mania it inspired lingers in the memory of many people. Tickle Me Elmo is not currently available at toy stores, but it remains a hot item at knick-knack emporiums and online auctions.

There are no doubts this toy of the 90s is one of the greatest toy crazes of all time.

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