These were the hottest Christmas gifts in 1991

Thirty years ago, these were the tech and toys that families wanted to find under the tree.

In 1991, Nickelodeon launched its cartoons Rugrats and Ren & Stimpy. The sitcom Step By Step made its TGIF debut. Sun Chips hit grocery store shelves. Nirvana slayed hair metal and changed the sound of rock music.

The Nineties were truly getting underway. Let's take a look at some of the most uniquely 1991 gifts seen in the Sears catalog.

Images: Sears / Wishbook Web

1. Super Nintendo Entertainment System


Six years after the original NES made its debut in North America, Nintendo entered the 16-bit gaming game. The Sega Genesis had hit stores a couple of years earlier. Alas, the Power Glove had been discontinued a year earlier.

2. Dual-Deck VCR


You could finally duplicate VHS tapes! Or… get this… TAPE a TV show while WATCHING another movie. It boggled the mind.

3. Swatch Twinphone


Speaking of doing two things at once, the trendy Swiss watch company introduced its "twinphone," a telephone that featured speakers and microphones in both its handheld half and its base. Perfect for your friend to eavesdrop on your chats with your crush.

4. Captain Planet Action Figures


Co-created by Ted Turner, the cartoon Captain Planet and the Planeteers and its toy line first took action in 1990. The eco-friendly superhero grew in popularity in 1991, to the point where Burger King gave out loads of plastic Captain Planet toys in kids meals, which seemed a little conflict-of-interest-y.

5. Home Fax Machine


"The first FAX designed specifically for home!" Remember in Back to the Future II, when they go into the year 2015, and the McFlys have fax machines all over the house? That was the vision in the early '90s.

6. Moon Shoes


Trampolines for your feet! These look pretty comfortable, actually.

7. Rapman


"Yo! It's RAPMAN." Yo! MTV Raps! premiered in 1988. The Beastie Boys had the first hip-hop album atop the Billboard charts half a decade earlier. It took a while for rap to permeate pop culture.

8. Sony Video Walkman


See, kids? We had handheld movies back then, too. Between the Discman and the MiniDisc Walkman, Sony launched this Video Walkman which played the tiny Video 8 tape format.

9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bart Simpson Swag


The catalog was loaded with TMNT and Bart Simpson merch. The Simpsons truly blew up that year. While the Turtles were nearing the end of their original toy run, which ended in 1992, you would never know it from the Sears Wishbook. Jackets, sweaters, tents, pants, skateboards — "Cowabunga!" was everywhere, dude.

10. Vanilla Ice Sleeping Bags


Okay, maybe these weren't the hottest gifts of 1991 — but they were certainly only really hot in 1990–91. And what's up with those cubist NKOTB faces? Those'll keep you up in the slumber party.

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Snickers 31 months ago
Don't even remember the Sony Video Walkman.
Pacificsun Snickers 30 months ago
True, not the video version. Perhaps it was out of our price range anyway? But the cassette Walkman (obviously) changed our music lives on the go. No need to haul around that Boombox anymore. Whew!
Snickers Pacificsun 30 months ago
Do they even make cassettes anymore?
Pacificsun Snickers 30 months ago
I don't think so, but maybe people can get them through a reseller.
eyegor 31 months ago
Pretty cool. How about a story of the hottest Christmas gifts from 1971?
Pacificsun eyegor 30 months ago
Oh that would be a great review, hope they do!
Runeshaper 31 months ago
I remember getting my Super NES and had Captain Planet action figures. I don't know anyone who DIDN'T have TMNT stuff! Such a great time to be a kid (-:
pacmancdi 31 months ago
I still couldn't imagine a better Christmas present than the super Nintendo today!
dth1971 31 months ago
What about the original Sega Sonic the Hedgehog video game?
dth1971 31 months ago
This comment has been removed.
15inchBlackandWhite 31 months ago
LOL! I worked in a retail store where we got stuck with a big backstock of NKOTB sleeping bags. We were still trying to unload them on clearance four years later!
15inchBlackandWhite 31 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Lantern 31 months ago
I'd like to see a story about the hottest Christmas gifts of 1961.
Patsy 31 months ago
Hair metal? No no no.
Check your facts. Smh
LoveMETV22 Patsy 31 months ago
Their statement was true, Nirvana along with other groups all had a part in slaying hair metal. The focus of the story is not the evolution of musical trends.

LoveMETV22 31 months ago
Happy Boxing Day Sunday, December 26, 2021.
Gljin40517 31 months ago
I still have a Go-Video Dual Deck VCR.
Titanic1985 Gljin40517 31 months ago
I also have a fully functional Go-Video Dual Deck VCR after many years of extensive use. It is a great machine!
WGH 31 months ago
I couldn't afford any of that crap when I was younger and now I wouldn't want any of it.
BrianMoore 31 months ago
The Super Nintendo. I was so wanting it over 1990/1991. And on Christmas Day 1991, I finally got it. I was so happy. And my dad hooked it up...and the screen was skipping. He was furious; I felt bad.

Anyway, we still played it even with the skipping. After the holidays, dad took the SNES to the electronic shop to get it worked on. The guy working the counter didn't have to ask what was wrong. When my dad set it on the counter, the guy said "Let me guess - the screen is skipping." Ours wasn't the only one. Loads of people brought theirs up to get the same problem fixed.

Anyway, it was fixed and I had many a good time playing it. Super Mario World, Mario Kart, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Breath of Fire one and two, Donkey Kong Country, the different versions of Street Fighter II, Super Mario RPG, Super Mario All Stars, Star Fox, Final Fantasies 2 and 3, and Chrono Trigger.

I'd give anything to have this system back to play these games as they were back then. I mean, yes, I could play them on emulators (and I have), but they lose a certain something in the process.

I guess what I'm saying is that the Super Nintendo was the best Christmas gift I ever got.
bdettlingmetv BrianMoore 31 months ago
What would really be great is a return to electronics that could actually be repaired by somebody in a shop. These days we just pitch 'em out and buy another.
BrianMoore 31 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Pacificsun 31 months ago
Psssst, over here, behind the tree! (Sorry, inside joke).

Because the MeTV writers are on holiday this weekend. And you might be desperate to read anything, here's your extra story for today, Fan volunteered, though you may thank me another time. But it comes from a question asked of Google.

What is the longest running show on MeTV?


The beginnings of MeTV launched in 2003, headquartered in Chicago. Anybody out there remember watching it from the beginning? Meaning what was the lineup that year, and compare it to today.

By 2004 they featured a broad mix of series from the 1950s to the 1980s, which included among others The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, Perry Mason, The Carol Burnett Show, One Day at a Time, and Hogan's Heroes.

Are you surprised, I was.

National expansion happened in 2010, and they began to run remastered widescreen prints of programs like Leave It to Beaver, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and The Monkees.

Again, I was surprised about the Monkees.

Interesting Fact:

According to Nielsen MeTV averaged 719,000 viewers [ JUST ] in prime time for 2019, last data point available. And remember, those are only the officially recorded viewers. Doesn't account for everyone who casually has MeTV running in the background of their home. And primetime is just a couple of hours in the evening, not all of it.


Unlike other digital multicast networks such as former sister network This TV and competitor Antenna TV, MeTV does not run day-long marathons. Instead, the network airs holiday-themed episodes on occasional holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas) as part of its regular schedule, which air in the program's normal time slot but are shown out-of-order.

Okay, we knew that.

Regarding Classic television series:

MeTV has program licensing agreements with the libraries of 20th Television, CBS Media Ventures, and select titles from Warner Bros. Television Distribution and MGM Television. MeTV also shares broadcast rights to programs from the NBCUniversal Syndication Studios library with Cozi TV (including shows from Universal Television, Revue Studios, NBC Studios, and MCA Television)[23] and Sony Pictures Television with Antenna TV, as well as select titles from the Peter Rodgers Organization with the Retro Television Network. The network's programming lineup covers a mix of sitcoms, dramas, and westerns from the 1950s to the early 2000s.

Wonder why "your" favorite show is missing? Make sure your request (or wish) comes from one of the distributors listed.

Programming blocks: (Yup, we all know this too).

MeTV arranges the bulk of its lineup in organized genre-based programming blocks, most of which use the "Me" moniker (in some cases, as an intentional pun) for brand unification purposes.

If you’ve read this far, and congratulations if you have!!! Here’s your special question just for fun.

If you could trade out one existing MeTV show in the lineup, what would you replace it with? Remember, it’ll probably run for at least the next decade, so you’d better be sure!

Have fun!

Load previous comments
Pacificsun Snickers 31 months ago
Some would say that Monk is already a function of Outer Limits. What would be the point of the change?? 😉😉
denny Pacificsun 30 months ago
I would get rid of In the Heat of the Night and put The Rockford Files back on.
Moverfan Pacificsun 30 months ago
Lose Monk and/or The Waltons. Replace with Simon & Simon, The Saint, Homicide: Life On The Street, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour...there may be more choices, I have to think...maybe Late Night With David Letterman/Late Show With David Letterman?
Pacificsun Moverfan 30 months ago

Great replacement ideas! Thanks for contributing!!
Zip 31 months ago
#7 Rapman.

One of the greatest low-end keyboards was a little Casio Sampling Keyboard. I used to play around with one in the stores, and then I had an opportunity to buy someone's used keyboard but didn't at the time, but i wished I would have.
That little thing was awesome in the way you could record your voice or anything else on it and play in back in different keys by pressing the different... well, keys. You know what I mean.
LoveMETV22 Zip 31 months ago
LOL was it like Ferris Bueller's Keyboard?
Pacificsun Zip 31 months ago
I was probably the first and only one (around my world anyway) who had a Casio credit card thin calculator where each number was a musical note. Pretty awesome. Cost $50 in the '70's. Like $300 now. I still have somewhere in a drawer.
Zip LoveMETV22 31 months ago
Probably a lot of the same functionality, but the Casio was a lot smaller. It looked like a toy but it had that neat sampling feature.

I still remember going into Shopko with my friends and singing the "I need you" part of that song by Stacy Q(yes, I had to look up the name of that song "Two Of Hearts" to remember it), which was playing alot on the radio back then. You could sing into it and then hit the keys and it would do the same thing the song does with the "I-I-I-I-I-I need, I need you."
Zip Pacificsun 31 months ago
Sounds cool! Reminds me of the song "Pocket Calculator" by the German electronic music pioneers KraftWerk. Lots of beeps and blips in that one.
"By pressing down a special key it plays a little melody."
Michael Zip 31 months ago
The Casio SK-1, Radio Shack also sold it under their name. Somewhere around $100 in Canada.

It was more like a toy keyboard, but it had that sampling, the cheapest keyboard with sampling at the time. It was limited, one sample of a short time, but a way to play with the concept.

I certain ly was tempted to buy one.
MichaelSkaggs 31 months ago
2) I still have and use my VCR/DVD player. 4) Captain Planet--environment political correctness is first unleashed upon America's young people via a cartoon series.
Also anyone remember Earth Force? It was suppose to be an A-Team for the environment.
jessquirl MichaelSkaggs 31 months ago
It was a dual deck double VCR Dvds weren't even thought of yet.
WGH jessquirl 31 months ago
I think he's aware of the difference as am I.

Never had a duel deck VCR but still have a VCR / DVD. We converted family VCR videos over to DVDs and made multiple copies on the PC so everyone in the family could have a copy.
LoveMETV22 jessquirl 31 months ago
They did manufacture hybrid VCR/DVD players the first was introduced around 1999 by Go Video, the same manufacturer mentioned in the story. Perhaps that was the model he had.
Pacificsun jessquirl 31 months ago
Well they were. Just nobody regular had seen the technology yet. But I had a friend in the late 70's and early '80's who saw the future of music. In fact somebody at a huge music equipment store, told me not to bother buying what was on the shelf.

Because digital was coming.

We looked at him, strangely.

But tech had hit the entertainment industry long before retail.
Pacificsun 31 months ago
Google answers most any question asked. Mine was, "what Sixties TV series was forced to shoot through the Christmas season?' Certainly a quirky and highly unlikely topic. But hey, Google needs to be challenged once in a while. So instead it offered the following link called: 5 Surprising things that 1960’s Television changed!

Not all, but much of our treasured classic TV shows come from the Sixties. That period certainly paved the way for the evolution of TV into the Seventies. And a lot more shows that we also enjoy on MeTV.
Another channel once presented a series based on the highlights from various decades of television. A lot of it was produced and narrated by Tom Hanks, who (IMO) personalized the connection TV has with the average viewer. And in terms of someone who grew up with TV as we (the classic TV generation) did too.

If you’re starved for extra reading this holiday, (and finally landed here with no other options, dread) assuming the staff writers got the long weekend off, here’s a print article of one segment of that series. With links incorporated.

It would be fun if other readers shared their own interesting articles too!

Load previous comments
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 31 months ago
No you were right. TV did and still does evolve (change) each decade. It adapts to the times.
It's the opinion of the changes that hasn't evolved and that's the beauty of "opinion or choice".
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 31 months ago
Thx, you always make me feel better when I second-guess myself!

This has been such a long weekend!
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 31 months ago
Those are hilarious!

Those gifts/purchases would never occur to us. But I did like the clothes. They did have the stamp of that decade on them. Had to be thin to do those bell bottoms justice though (I was). So it was a cool look. High platform shoes too, remember those? Went everywhere in them. Easier to wear than spiked heels.

Good trip back down memory lane, thank you!
Michael LoveMETV22 31 months ago
The Sunday before Christmas, TCM had 2 hiurs of silent movies with Christmas theme. They were early, hence short, so quite a few.
russhowe57 31 months ago
I was 34 in ‘91 but still watched Ren and Stimpy. Today I’m 64 and watch Toon in with me. Please show some Ralph Phillips cartoons.
Kenner 31 months ago
I bought the Nintendo for my kid back then. I passed on the Vanilla Ice sleeping bag. The moon shows look like fun but an accident waiting to happen. Just sayin.
KJExpress 31 months ago
For me, it would have been more fun to see the hottest gifts from '61 or '71. But I wouldn't mind trying out those moon shoes. 🤸‍♀️
Pacificsun KJExpress 31 months ago

I do remember the little mobile toys. We'd get them and make up our own role playing games around them. Like a Gas Station or a Ranch, that sort of thing. We only had our brain, no conveniences!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?