Dead Gadgets


Written by Siobhan Morrin
05 Sunday 05th December 2010

It’s December! We all know what that means - countdowns, mince pie overkill, and inevitable lists of top toys for Christmas. Like every year, the lists will certainly include at least one ‘must-have’ gadget for 2010. But what happened to the ones you threw away ten years ago?

This year, alongside the obvious (and expensive): iPad, iPhone, Kinect, etc. is the retro happy Big Trak, tipped for success probably thanks to those grown up ‘80s kids. But what happens after the festivities? Are robots for life or just for Christmas?
We take a look at the fate of some of the top toys from yesteryear- were they chucked out when the batteries died or did they live on past Christmas?
Tamigotchi (1996)
Remember when your school banned them? Attending to the little egg was just so engrossing: potty training it, feeding it… But surely there’s only so much fun to be had with a handful of pixels? Well, for some people, it would appear not. At last count there were 44 updated variations since the original, with the latest to be released this Christmas (the 'TamaTown Tama-Go') somehow bucking the Japanese miniaturisation trend by actually being larger than the original. Tamagotchis still have a huge Internet following, with numerous forums, an official website, a 2007 film and various videos on YouTube. Tamagotchi parody of Paparazzi anyone?

Furby (1998)
Yes, another annoying, beeping creature desperate for your love…Not sure why they always seem such a good idea at Christmas. At the height of their fame, they were even banned by the US National Security Agency after being suspected as incidental spying devices. So, post-Furbygate, where are they now? Well, from the look of YouTube, they’re in pieces all over lots of bedroom floors. Here, for example, they've been stripped, harnessed and repurposed into a creepy hand-cranked music box / analogue synthesiser.

Dreamcast (1999)
Sega thought they were ahead of the game releasing their sixth generation console before Sony and Nintendo. In some ways they was, being the first console to come with a built-in modem for online play. The console had a strong roster of memorable games like Jet Grind Radio, Power Stone and super-freaky Seaman - a very Japanese release which took digital device emotional attachment to new highs with a super-freaky carp with a human face (see below), requiring constant care and affection (all narrated by Leonard 'Spock' Nimoy).
Despite this, the PlayStation 2 came along to huge hype and the poor old Dreamcast was doomed to failure, taking gaming monolith Sega's console development arm with it. While the console is discontinued, forums make it clear that many gamers still love the Dreamcast, and it often makes the top ten in ‘best consoles ever’ lists. But will Sega ever return to their halcyon Megadrive days? Probably not.
Robosapien (2004)
The walking, talking, burping robot was a sell-out in 2004- even though he wasn’t originally designed as a toy. Part of a demand wave for ‘realistic’ robots, Robosapien was top of the pile. What happened to him? If people got bored of his pre-programmed actions, well, they just made some up themselves. Thanks to being easy to modify, Robosapien is hugely popular with hackers. All over forums and YouTube, some of the most popular mods are voice activation and…flame throwing!



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