In the Gary Cross reading he begins saying that, “By the 1980’s play was divorced from the constraints of parents and the real worlds …The dolls and playsets that encouraged girls to act out their mothers’ roles were replaced by Barbie’s fantasies of personal consumptions.” (290) However, my favorite toy from childhood combined elements of fantasy and “playing mom,” I’m referring to the pop culture phenomenon of the 1990’s, the “Giga Pet.”
Giga Pets were launched by Tiger Electronics in 1997, and were the “it” gift that holiday season. Luckily, they were rather affordable at just $9.99 and kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds could afford them. You would care for virtual pet on a knuckle-sized screen that was connected to a keychain. You were responsible for feeding your pet, making sure it slept, and playing with it. If you could not fulfill these responsibilities then your pet died.
I often wondered if my mom was as obsessed with me as I was with my Giga Pet dog. I remembered I was almost eight years old when I received my first one, and the following day I went to the zoo. I didn’t notice a single animal though, neither did my two cousins, sister, or the two neighbors we went with as we all were looking down at our virtual pet key chains the entire time. Finally at lunchtime my dad and my uncle confiscated our “toys” as they were annoyed they had paid for us to come to the zoo to play with fake pets when live animals surrounded us. I felt like someone had kidnapped my child and I should call the police. What if my dog died while in my dad’s pocket for the next few hours?! When we got back to the car my dad handed back our pets, and they were all safe and sleeping. A week later I lost my Giga Pet and was on the next thing. So, Gary Cross while toys might change, one thing doesn’t, kids will always lose their toys.