“Kidult” Toys Are the Millennial Shopping Trend We Should’ve Seen Coming

Furby, you’ve changed

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

You’re not imagining things: Your childhood is rearing its body glittered, braces-adorned head. Like an ex who’s “just checking in to see how you’re doing,” elements of your past are trying to woo you once more (Money piece hairstyles! Hanging out at the mallGrimace’s triumphant return to McDonald’s!). Though none so much as your toys.

You can’t scroll your phone or walk a block without encountering the Barbie movie marketing machine—thanks to product extensions ranging from Homesick candles to Airbnb stays and clothing lines available everywhere from Hot Topic to Bloomingdale’s—but the trend delves much deeper than that. As we researched upcoming toys for this year’s Happy Kid Awards (launching this August!), one word kept popping up: kidult. And millennials, it’s a term that seems custom-made for you.

evolution of Furby from 1998 model to 2023 design
The evolution of Furby, from 1998 to today. / PHOTOS: Getty Images/Hasbro

The Rise of the Kidults

Technically, a “kidult” is anyone older than 12, since kids tend to favor all things electronic at that age—at least by NPD Group standards, which researches industry trends worldwide. But the ones with the real disposable income are the post-college crowd. And given recent toy trends, which focus on rebooting hit items from the ‘90s and early aughts, the latest marketing push seems squarely aimed at millennials.

The tactic makes sense: Kidults bought 24 percent of all toys from June 2021 to June 2022, accounting for about two-thirds of the growth in that market, according to Time.

While there’s a strong market for people buying nostalgic toys and swag for themselves, the millennial focus also makes sense, because they’re the ones buying stuff for their kids. You have fond memories of crimping Totally Hair Barbie’s locks in the mid-‘90s, so why not introduce your kid to the 2022 version? Or show them the joys of collecting dozens of pocket-sized animals when Littlest Pet Shops relaunches (with a more ‘90s throwback design, reportedly) in 2024?

Everything Old Is Rebooted (Again)

So just how widespread is this trend? Before you dig any deeper, dear reader, the real question you should ask yourself is, how many throwbacks can your heart handle? Sit down and practice your square breathing to center yourself as we highlight some of the biggest millennial hits, reimagined for today.

1.     Furby


Wait, wasn’t this just rebooted in 2016? Yes, that was the Furby Connect, one of a few relaunched Furbies to hit the market since the 1998 original, but the 2023 version takes things to the next level. Its mechanics are much quieter than earlier models, it comes with accessories (including a pizza necklace that kids can wear—and use to feed the Furby), it’s easier to understand (more English, less Furbish). But, best of all, it can be turned off at any time with three taps of the gem in its forehead.

2. Spirograph


The Doodle Pad you know and love is back, only with an LCD screen. You can save your designs, then press a button to swipe the screen “clean” and start over, making it a more travel-friendly, mess-free toy.

3. Miniverse Little Tikes Minis

MGA Entertainment

Parents may be delighted to learn the Cozy Coupe hasn’t gone anywhere, and as of last fall, it can even be a desktop (or dollhouse) accessory. MGA’s Miniverse launched Little Tikes Minis, a series of surprise balls featuring micro takes on toddler favorites, like the aforementioned coupe, Turtle Sandbox and Jump n’ Slide Bouncer.

4. Giga Pets

Giga Pets

It looks and sounds just like the late ‘90s original. Just imagine telling your kids how cutting edge those pixelated pets were back in your day.

5. Polly Pocket

Polly Pocket

Polly’s gone through a metamorphosis over the years (including becoming less pocket-sized at one point), but the concept remains the same: compact cases hosting entire playlands for Polly and her pals.

6. Bratz

MGA Entertainment

Prepare to feel your age: If the Bratz dolls were human, they could legally drink by now. The brand celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2021 by bringing back the original dolls, complete with a very on-brand holographic poster.

7. American Girls

American Girl

Now prepare to feel ancient: The latest historic American Girls are from the 1900s…specifically 1999. Isabel and Nikki Hoffman are twins living at the turn of the millennium, struggling with dial-up, completing their reading logs to score Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas and crafting the perfect AIM away message.

8. Lite-Brite Wall Art

Lite Brite

The old school peg art kit got a glow-up, repositioned as wall art with more kidult-friendly designs. You’re not playing with kids’ toys; you’re designing your own decor!

You can still buy the classic Chatter Phone for kids, though we imagine it comes with a lot of explaining to do (namely, what a landline is and how a rotary phone works). This version is for parents, featuring Bluetooth capabilities so you can send and receive real calls. The dream.

Proving you’re never too old for Play-Doh, the brand sells a cheeky set of scents aimed at adults (which they market as an alternative to adult coloring books). There’s the coffee-fragranced Overpriced Latte, Mom Jeans (featuring a fresh denim aroma), the smoked meat scent of Grill King, just to name a few.

Her hair isn’t quite as long, but her mini dress is just as psychedelic, and she’s got rainbow pastel highlights. (And if the throwback doesn’t resonate with you, your inner kidult may delight in the full set of Barbie the Movie dolls, which are also in stores now.)

The classic water gun staged a comeback in 2020, though reviews have been mixed on its release (overall, it’s fun, but many say it leaks more than the original). If you’ve been itching to school your kids in a water fight, consider this your excuse to finally make it happen this summer.

care bears figurines

Care Bears have gotten a more cartoonish appearance in recent years, and this year, they’ve been shrunken into the perfect backpack accessory. Playing on the mystery box trend, you don’t know which character you’ll get, but rest assured that it will be tiny, adorable and come with its own keychain-connected cubby to hang out in.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...