Showing posts with label Features. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Features. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adorable Animal Toys of the 80s and 90s

vintage lps kitties

In any decade, cute cuddly animals are a surefire win with young children. Their inherent appeal is in their big expressive eyes, their huggable nature, and their covetousness-inducing inflated sticker price. Toy manufacturers know that these cuddly critters will inevitably send young children into the throes of toy store-aisle ear-plugging, breath-holding temper tantrums, the embarrassment of which would surely motivate our parents into purchasing the overpriced fuzzball.

These toys were no exception, with their manufacturers incessantly and successfully peddling these big-eyed plush animals at us with every commercial break on Nickelodeon or during Saturday morning cartoons. Many became bona fide fad phenomena, impelling us to race to our nearest Toys ‘R Us to become the first on our block or classroom to own one of these little guys. Though they varied in cuteness from brand to brand, ownership of any of these animal fluffies was sure to garner you some playground credibility.

Glo Worms

Is it a nightlight or is it a stuffed animal? Our clever friends at Hasbro showed us in 1982 that these two kid-friendly items were not necessarily mutually exclusive. Glo Worms served handily as both, with their plush bodies and enormous hard plastic light-up faces. They were cute, they were comforting, they were a little creepy.

Pound Puppies

Pound Puppies were such a phenomenon in the 80s and 90s that the original toy spawned an entertainment franchise, boasting an animated television show and feature-length film. Pound puppies had, unsurprisingly, a hangdog look to them--after all, they had presumably been languishing in the pound, hoping to be adopted. In the show, however, the puppies were far from helpless--they worked as a team to solve complex problems at the Puppy Pound. You know, just like in real life.

Puppy Surprise

Even after so many years, this toy still strikes many of us as a bit disturbing. The concept is cute--your mother dog comes with an indeterminate number of puppies, so it’s an actual surprise when you slit ‘er open. On the practical side, though, it gave many young children a premature and medically inaccurate perception of childbirth. For a year or so, I thought that we simply reinserted babies back into their mother’s bellies for convenient storage at clean-up time.

Littlest Pet Shop

As the name implies, the Littlest Pet Shop toy line chronicles the daily lives and activities of the littlest pets in their very own shop. The original 90s versions came with all sorts of fun features, translating into numerous small parts for us to swallow or lose throughout the course of play. Some of the more novel versions came with fun features like rubber stamp pawprint functions or head bobbling abilities. As with most reimagined toy lines, the 2000s version released by Hasbro are decidedly more freakish-looking.

My Little Pony

My Little Pony was a veritable phenomenon in the 80s and 90s, with young girls everywhere scrambling to own one of these sparkly-haired plastic horses. They appealed to little girls’ sensibilities in all the basic ways: pastel colors, glitter, brushable hair, and horses. If you’ve ever met a little girl, it’s pretty clear Hasbro cooked up a fail-proof concept.


Who knew a parachute loaded with poly-fill could be so cuddly and lovable? The ad touts Puffalumps as “like marshmallow pillows, you can never squeeze too tight...You can’t hug a Puffalump wrong!” Well, that’s a relief. I constantly worry I’m showering my stuffed animals with affection in all the wrong ways. Whew.


I’m not sure if these can technically be classified as animals, but they are stuffed, so they’re going on the list. I had endless Popple paraphernalia in my youth, including some straight-to-VHS videos and a pop up tent. These ambiguous teddy bear-esque stuffies came in all varieties, including rock star and sports lover. A little something for everyone, you might say.

Care Bears

Care Bears were originally created as card characters by American Greetings, but their popularity led to their release as a toy line and later as popular animated characters. Each Care Bear boasted a tummy symbol, indicating exactly what it was that put the “care” in their status as official Care Bear.


Picture the characters from Littlest Pet Shop. Now stuff those adorable little critters into a too-small tank or cage. Smooshies may not have taught humane treatment, but I imagine our parents liked the compactness and easy storability.

Beanie Babies

Beanie Baby's 3

Of course, no list of 90s stuffed animals could be complete without at least a cursory mention of the market-cornering fad-maker itself, TY’s Beanie Baby line. They served no function and weren’t even all that cuddly, but somehow TY convinced us these pellet-filled creatures had inherent value. They didn’t, of course, and the investment-minded among us 90s children are undoubtedly kicking ourselves over the poor market growth of our collections in recent years.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

80s and 90s Back to School Checklist: School Supply Trends

It’s that time of year again. You know the one: the time for back-to-school shopping and all the fresh-smelling new school supplies your child-sized heart can fathom. It’s tough as adults to deny the covetousness we feel when passing the mid-to-late August back-to-school displays at Target or OfficeMax. Even former low-performing students with an aversion to all things academic feel the allure of freshly sharpened pencils and shiny new folders; they symbolize an anticipation for a year that’s tough to match as a grown-up as the seasons blend together in ubiquitous office life.

Though we can’t go back to those simpler times in which colorful erasers could denote immeasurable promise and potential, we can at least reminisce about the items that gave us that rush of August or September excitement. I even give you full license to stop at that school supply display next time you’re out shopping and buy a 45 cent puppy folder or two--it’s a small price to pay to recapture the delight of back-to-school items like these.

Trapper Keepers

No back-to-school supply list would be complete without a big binder to hold it all together, and no binder proved more popular in the 80s and 90s than the Trapper Keeper. With its flashy licensed designs and velcro closure, it served as the perfect all-purpose paper holder for school-age children.

Lisa Frank Folders

We’ve talked about Lisa Frank merchandise a lot here at Children of the 90s, and with good reason: it was everywhere. You couldn’t open a girl’s backpack in the mid-90s without finding a store inventory-level variety of Lisa Frank paraphernalia. Most little girls have a natural inclination toward loving colorful kittens playfully canoodling with high top sneakers or bunny rabbits laced tightly into ballet slippers. Lisa Frank simply played into this scientifically proven fact with major financial results.

Sanrio Erasers
All kids need to clean up after their mistakes, so what better way to do so than with an eraser printed with the whimsical Japanese Sanrio characters? Whether you were a Kerroppi fan or a Batz Maru fiend, these collectable erasers usually found their way into your pencil box.

Yikes! Pencils

Yikes! Pencils were all the rage in the early-to-mid 90s. As the above commercial suggests, Yikes are the only pencils as unique as you. Even though everyone else had them. Aside from that minor detail, the commercial tagline says it all: “They write like other pencils, but they make you go, ‘Yikes!’”

Pencil Cases

Of course, you had to store all of these supplies somewhere: your cubby wasn’t going to organize itself. Selection of the perfect pencil case was always a good way to kick off a new year. It was important to set the tone with a colorful translucent plastic case textured with bumps or perhaps the more sensible opaque case bearing a picture of--you guessed it--pencils. There’s something to be said for taking things literally.

Gel Pens
Following the release of gel pens, it seemed all art supply and office stores immediately had the best colors placed on backorder. The reason? Young children purchased these writing utensils nearly as quickly as they were shelved. With fun metallic or signature “milky” colors, gel pens were a fairly certain way to render your eventual yearbook inscriptions both sparkly and indecipherable.


Lunchables aren’t exactly a school supply per se, but they were a staple for earning some serious cafeteria clout. Parents concerned with nutrition and possessing general anti-junk food attitudes weren’t likely to be found of these lab-generated Oscar Meyer concoctions, but parents short on time seeking convenience surely appreciated their simplicity. They may not have borne especial resemblance to real food, but they were fun to assemble and devour. Plus, the fancier versions came complete with fun size candy bar and Capri Sun juice box. What more could you have asked for?

Pencil Toppers
For those of us who couldn’t decide between toys and school supplies, pencil toppers provided us an excellent middle ground. Teachers undoubtedly despised these unnecessary distractions for their complete lack of functionality, but kids adored the notion of their pencils wearing a little Troll doll hat. Adorable.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Did you know? 80s and 90s Pop Culture Connections

What exactly did we do before we had the Internet Movie Database to fact check our niggling sleep loss-inducing curiosity of in which movie or show we'd previously seen an actor or actress? It's tough to remember a time when we had to simply live with the mystery. Luckily these days a world is information is available at the click of a search button, so we never have live in doubt again that the guy from that show was in that one kids' movie. You know, that guy.

Even with these remarkable advances in media-connecting information technology, it's tough to remember to backtrack and revisit all of the questions we'd previously had before the inception of IMDB. Our brains can only store so much information, so after awhile we lose sight of the immense importance of placing each actor or actress that previously thwarted us with their multiple roles. As always, Children of the 90s is here to help: to dig up those lost and forgotten celebrity frustrations and enlighten you on some of the stranger star connections about which you may not have known. While these are a few of my personal favorites, feel free to use the comments section to rave about your own enlightening pre-IMDB celebrity realizations.

Voice of Older Kevin on Wonder Years=Robber from Home Alone

So many children of the 80s and 90s grew up with both The Wonder Years and Home Alone without ever making the connection that Joe Pesci's robber sidekick's voice sounded suspiciously similar to a voiceover recording deliberating over a first kiss with Winnie.

Michael Carrington from Grease 2=Rex Manning from Empire Records

If you've ever seen the horrifically corny Grease 2, it's pretty clear it can't live up to the original. You also know, however, that star Maxwell Caulfield is dreamy by all objective standards. Whether as a nerdy Brit who's vaguely related to Frenchie or as a Cool Rider, he's got it all. Even ten odd years later, he's still fairly dreamy as washed-up Brit pop star Rex Manning in quintessential 90s movie Empire Records. He even looks good as a cardboard cutout.

Charlene Sinclair and Fran Sinclair of Dinosaurs=Sally Struthers of "Get Your Degree at Home" fame and Lucille Bluth of Arrested Development

I admit I'm probably not being completely fair to Sally Struthers with this one. She's had a career that fan outspans her college-at-home hawking gig, but as children of the 90s that's the Struthers we're most likely to remember. I also saw her in a Broadway version of Grease, and truthfully I would have been far more pumped about her performance if I'd known I was watching Charlene from Dinosaurs.

Perhaps more interesting is that Dinosaurs matriarch Fran Sinclair is voiced by the matriarch of the Arrested Development Bluth clan. That's some serious range, to be able to flit seamlessly from a young prehistoric mother to a spoiled raging alcoholic plotting against Liza Minnelli.

Darryl from Adventures in Babysitting=Mark from Rent

If you were never into pinnacle 90s' musical RENT, this information may not be particularly intriguing, but if you saw the original Broadway show lightbulbs should be appearing at all angles above your head right now. Anthony Rapp who played Brad's friend Darryl in Babysitting went on to achieve astounding musical fame as Mark Cohen in RENT. What's stranger still is that Chris Columbus directed Rapp in both Adventures in Babysitting and RENT. Columbus is clearly not much of a niche artist, or at least not based on this strange work sample.

Janie from Girls Just Want to Have Fun=Carrie from Sex and the City

I know, I know, I also could have cited Parker for her early roles in Square Pegs and Footloose, but this film was such a major part of my childhood I couldn't resist making it my example. As a kid I was absolutely certain Girls Just Want to Have Fun was the most realistic and credible depiction of high school, so imagine my surprise upon watching it a few weeks ago to find that it is possibly the cheesiest movie ever made. Regardless, it does offer some nice foreshadowing when the DTV director commends Janie for her Catholic School uniform "fashion risk"--clearly an omen of Carrie craziness to come.

That Girl from RAD=Aunt Becky from Full House

This one might be a long shot because its interestingness hinges on the notion that you've seen RAD, which in itself is incredibly unlikely. In case you have not, I highly recommend you check it out. Not because it's good by any stretch of the imagination, but because it's so horrible it warrants a good mocking with friends. Plus, Aunt Becky is in it! What's not to like? Besides the movie, of course.

King Koopa from Super Mario Bros=Villain from Speed

Yes, Dennis Hopper was in Super Mario Bros. Who knew? He definitely rocked the villainous roles, but he probably was not especially proud of this entry on his long resume.

The Manager of The Golden Palace=The Manager of Hotel Rwanda

Talk about a promotion. In just a few years, you too can go from managing the underrated but unnecessary Golden Girls spinoff hotel establishment to managing a heart wrenchingly heroic hotel for genocide refugees.

The Kids from Freaks and Geeks=The Stars of Judd Apatow Films

This one is sort of a no-brainer considering Apatow was the driving force behind Freaks and Geeks, but it seems worth mentioning on the basis that the show suffered from incredibly low ratings. Considering Apatow's recent box office success, it's odd to consider he once was hawking one of the greatest unwatched shows of the late 90s. At this point, though, I'm sure Freaks and Geeks' more recent cult status and undoubtedly astronomical DVD sales haven't hurt his already bulging bank account. It sounds like a win-win. Well, if you're Apatow. Us original Freaks fans can't cash in on our early adopter comedy status in anything other than smug self-satisfaction.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

80s and 90s Kids’ Arts and Crafts, Part III

Welcome to the final installment of 80s and 90s Kids’ Arts and Crafts. For parts I and II, check here and here. Thanks again to everyone for your understanding on the intermittent posting over the next few weeks or so during my much-dreaded moving time. A psychology class once taught me that intermittent reinforcement is the most effective variety, so maybe my readership will consequently explode. All this time, I’ve been ringing my little Pavlovian nostalgia bell and bringing you to salivate for post reinforcement daily, when apparently you could have been twice as drooly had I only fed you memories a few times a week. Who knew?

This batch of crafts was especially contingent on reader suggestions, so thank you to everyone who contributed their misty water-and/or-crayon-colored memories of complicated kits and toys our parents used to shut us up for an hour or two. We may not have been creating great masterpieces, but they were at least enough to inspire temporary pride for minimal effort--the preferred combination for children with creative energy but little hopes of a professional future in the fine arts.

Lite Brite

I hadn’t previously considered this to be much of a craft, but after so many write-ins, it was clear it fits the bill. After all, if Magnadoodle and Etch-a-Sketch made the cut, there’s no reason to exclude the Lite-Brite on account of its transient nature. They weren’t lasting works of art, but they were sparkly ones.

The television commercials always showed children just like us creating elaborate patterns with the tiny bulbs, leading us to believe they held great artistic potential. When we got our very own Lite-Brite, however, it became clear most of them were working from the pre-made pattern punch-out sheets.

In case you haven’t yet gotten over the thrill of tediously placing tiny bulbs in pre-cut sockets, Hasbro online has a Lite Brite Simulator. Amazing, right? It’s just as painstakingly laborious as I remember, only in this version you have the option to print your works of virtual art. If you’ll please excuse me, I’m off to spend three hours clicking faux-lit dots into simulated slots.

Fantastic Flowers

As someone who owned this toy, allow me to attest to the fact it was exactly as fun as the commercial suggests. Using little-to-no artistic effort, you could punch out perfectly formed flowers, affix them to premade stems, and voila! Art. The paper it came with was scented, so your result were flowers that smelled like, well, scented paper. Pretty impressive nonetheless.

Craft Loops

In retrospect, these seem like a suspiciously-motivated ploy by parents to set up little potholder sweatshop operations in their very own homes. “Oh, here you go, Susie. Just take these loops and this little loom and weave Mommy some pot-holders. Unless you want to burn your fragile little hands on the tuna casserole dish next time. I know how you hated the blistering. So, you know, it’s pretty important you craft an 8 by 10 square from these little circles."


If this was still available through a simple TV offer in three easy payments of $9.99, you can bet I’d be dialing that 800-number and reciting my check or money order information. That commercial is incredibly convincing. Blouses! Belts! Boots! Denim jackets! If only I could find that denim baseball cap I bedazzled in my youth, my life could be complete. And sparkly!

This device was relatively simple to use, meaning that in the hands of the wrong person it could lead to some very dangerous non-industry regulated rhinestoning. While a mass-producing manufacturer of clothing realizes that 200 rhinestones on a single collar is a bit much, a bedazzler-crazed regular Josephina may think it’s a grand idea. Heavy, but grand. And, you know. Sparkly.

Shrinky Dinks

You cut ‘em, you bake ‘em, they shrink. Exciting, no?


Any of us who ever went to summer camp are more than familiar with lanyard craftsmanship. Literally the poor man’s friendship bracelet, these useless neon-colored heaps of flexible plastic served as keychains and nametag necklace holders.

We would take great pride in crafting a lanyard for a family member and then wonder why their grateful reaction seemed so strained. As adults, it’s clear to us now that it was because they knew that had to wear around this ugly piece of junk for at least a few weeks until we forgot we’d woven the eyesore.

Stained Glass/Suncatcher Kits

These things always seemed much cooler while still in their original packaging. The sample shown on the package was impeccable: a beautiful, uniformly sun-catching colored glass with excellent use of color. Our own work, however, was usually not quite so dazzling. It may have caught the sun, sure, but it blinded us with streaky, watered-down colored patches overflowing and bleeding into other areas on the suncatcher.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

80s and 90s Kids' Arts and Crafts Part II

Welcome back to another edition of 80s and 90s’ kids’ arts and crafts. For those of you in the States, I hope you had a nice long holiday weekend. To my international readers, I’m sorry you have to continually endure the assumptions that you care about the United States’ independence. My condolences.

Before we get to the good stuff, a quick note: You may notice the posts here at Children of the 90s becoming a bit more intermittent over the next couple of weeks. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. Well, actually the previous statement is completely false: I am going somewhere, though the move will take place in the real physical world instead of the virtual one. I’m in the midst of a housing to move to parts as of yet unknown and am thus fully consumed by the arduous task of hauling furniture and packing up boxes.

I’ve never been much for manual labor, so the inevitable strain on my delicate self is taking up valuable blogging time. For the next few weeks, I appreciate your understanding of our temporary on-again, off-again relationship. Believe you, it’s not you, it’s me. And my incredibly overstuffed apartment.

For now, though, let’s resume our stroll down memory lane into the world of 80s and 90s arts and crafts. Believe me, I would rather be doing any of these things--no matter how ultimately tedious--than packing up a few years worth of accumulated stuff. If I had a velvet poster to color in or a spin-art wheel to operate, you’d bet my progress would be slowed significantly. Not to mention my belongings would be far more paint-splattered, though be fair it would be in an artfully random pattern.

Based on your much-appreciated write-in suggestions, here are a few more of the vaguely arts and crafts-related activities that held our attention as children. There’s still a part 3 likely coming your way, so feel free to add additional suggestions to the comments section or by email at

Scratch Art

For those of us lucky enough to have parents willing to spring $4.99 or so for a packet of pre-made scratch sheets, we enjoyed the hassle free scraping of surprisingly colorful designs from a black background. Others among us didn’t fare quite as well, opting to create our own scratch boards from, well, scratch.

Doing so involved the arduous task of filling a full page with random colored patches and using an entire black Crayola crayon to do you color-cover bidding. Your hand and arm would be incredibly exhausted from the whole ordeal, but at least you were able to reap the reward of some sweet vibrant etching.

Velvet Coloring Posters

I passed one of these at CVS the other day and found myself fighting the urge to purchase it and customize my very own velvet portrait of a unicorn galloping whimsically across a full arch rainbow. Despite my knowledge as a grownup that these posters are extremely tacky, there’s something so tempting about embarking on an endless and time-consuming velvet poster coloring project. Plus they’re velvet. Velvet! That stuff comes across as pretty classy to a seven-year old.

Ironable Perler Beads

We spent many, many hours in my house tediously placing plastic beads a millimeter in diameter each onto flat bumpy molds. Whoever thought these up was either a genius or incredibly sadistic, depending on your views on occupying a child with a mindless task for multiple hours at a time.

The molds came in different shapes and could produce different designs using the multicolored beads. Simply cover, iron, and ta-da! A piece of useless junk. But hey, it was your piece of useless junk. There’s a difference.

Spin Art

Just in case you were looking for a way to make painting messier and more airborne, you’re in luck: someone else has already come up with it and mass-marketed it. There actually used to be a professional Spin-Art center at our local mall, but I’m guessing the availability of allegedly easy-to-use at-home kits put them out of business.

The process was simple but undeniably attractive to mess-hungry children. You put a piece of paper on the spinner, activated the motion, and squirted various paint colors in its general vicinity as it spun. It was like a maxed-out version of the Spirograph: no skill required, guaranteed to create interesting artful symmetry.

Friendship Bracelets
I recently caught an episode of How It’s Made featuring the hammock-making process that led me to believe I could someday take on a lucrative career as a hammock craftswoman. The reason? The countless hours I spent weaving embroidery floss into masterfully crafted bracelets and anklets. How else can we children of the 90s put to use our skill at creating patterns like tornado, chevron, and candy stripe?

If you have a solution, feel free to let me know--I’m actually in the market for a new career. I don’t have Friendship Bracelet Making as its own category on my resume, but I’m willing to work it in for the right professional macrame post. Really, let me know.

Friday, July 2, 2010

80s and 90s Kids’ Arts and Crafts Part 1

Upon further examination, it seems like I should have titled this feature “Craft Aids for the Talent-Impaired Child Artist.” Parents of young children in the 80s and 90s were coming around to the self-esteem movement--meaning they had to pretend everything we did was pure gold in in an effort to not damage our allegedly fragile child egos. It’s the reason we all think we’re so good at everything. Gen Xers may have been better off with their cynicism--by the time Gen Y rolled around, our every breath was an action worthy of praise.

Whatever the reason, an overwhelming number of art-themed items from our 80s and 90s childhoods required relatively little skill or talent of any kind. Whether through creativity-eliminating drawing guides or mistake-erasable drawing tablets, these crafts held very low expectations for our artistic ability. That’s either very kind or very depressing, depending on how you look at it.

There’s no chance I could sum up all of the nostalgic arts and crafts items I’ve come up with--I just spent about forty minutes oohing and aahing over memory-jogging Google images. This is destined to be a multi-part series, so feel free to reminisce about your own favorites in the comments section. If your memories are convincing enough, who knows? They might just end up in Part II. You can only hope.

Fashion Plates/Light-Up Tracing Desk

Here is the ultimate in talent-free artistic expression: simply rub over or, as technology improves, trace some mix-and-match designs onto your very own piece of paper. You could switch out the different plates to change outfits, faces, and shoes. Inspired by the plates used by actual fashion designers, these more primitive versions were marketed to children. I had the later update light-up desk, which yielded a similar result with the added bonus of some technology: a little lightbulb.


Introduced in the mid-60s, the Spirograph has long been a favorite of geometrically-minded children. Using some mysterious principle described by lengthy equations and assorted Greek letters in the Spirograph Wikipedia entry, the circular gears produce various patterns and symmetrical shapes when poked with a pen or pencil. Growing up, our local science museum had a giant Spirograph that held some half-hearted intention to teach us some math, but unsurprisingly most child patrons were only interested in taking home their personal tear-sheet drawing.

Etch-a-Sketch/Magnadoodle/Magic Memo Pad

These devices seem lumpable into a single category on the basis of their underlying theme of immediately disposable, mess-free art. It’s clear why these toys appealed to our parents--no muss, no fuss, no ugly pictures they felt obligated to display on the fridge with forced pride. Simply swipe, shake, or peel, and start again--endless renewable art fun.

Kid Pix

For the tech-savvy among us, the computer became a veritable playground of virtual painting. I was not actually lucky enough to own Kid Pix, but I did occasionally have the chance to observe its awesomeness with its stamping and sound effects at a friend’s house. On my own, I was relegated to playing with the gradient function on our ClarisWorks, but I spent most of my allotted computer time fuming about my lack of Kid Pix.

Paint by Numbers/Paint With Water

Paint-by-number sets were a popular and highly tedious exercise in futility. It took great resolve and concentration--attributes children do not generally possess--to get through one of these pictures. Once you get all the way up to matching all of the tiny little 14 spots to the number 14 color, several hours have elapsed. Bummer.

The Paint With Water Sets were far simpler, though they held a much greater novelty factor. Simply wet the colored part of the paper and it becomes drippy and messy and allegedly paintable. I actually had a several minutes-long discussion with my boyfriend regarding whether these mysterious sets actually existed or if I pulled the notion from the far expanses of my overactive imagination. Grueling Google searches conclude that they do in fact exist and thus I did not dream up a Muppet Babies-themed wonder featuring built in paper paint. Score one, me.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

90s Teen Pop Princesses: Then and Now

Current celebrity critics may be up in arms over the racy and overnight de-Disnified Miley Cyrus, but her path as a child-to-rebellious-teen pop star is pretty well-worn territory. Child stars have been reinventing themselves as alleged adults for years. In the 1990s, a wave of self-proclaimed virginal and innocent adolescent teenage pop stars paved the way for the downslide into inevitable controversy. These girls proved there’s only so long managers and publicists can capitalize on and profit from your jailbait allure--at some point, their public personas needed to grow up.

As some of these starlets have shown, the transition from bubbly teen to legitimate grown-up artist is not an easy one. While some may manage to endure the change relatively unscathed, most lose some marketability with each passing year and are forced to continually reinvent themselves. So next time you hear Miley tell you she can’t be tamed, you should probably just take her word for it. Looking at her predecessors, it seems like a likely outcome.

Britney Spears

We First Knew Her as: Mickey Mouse Club Member on the 90s revival of the children’s variety show, child contestant on Star Search, very brief stint as member of girl group Innosense

Achieved Major Stardom as:
Vaguely inappropriate but supposedly innocent school girl uniform-clad singer of “Hit Me Baby One More Time”

Foray into Film:
Starred in box office bomb and general cheeseball embarrassment Crossroadss

And Then:
Reinvented self as newly edgy Slave 4 us; dances with python

And Then:
Marries perpetually wifebeater-clad backup dancer Kevin Federline, procreates; divorces

The Downslide:
Endured a slew of personal struggles, shaved head, stint in rehab, embarrassing VMA performance in spangly bra--still managed to release popular CD

Number of Fragrances Released in the Meantime:
Seven, including one subtly called “In Control”

Under tight conservatorship by her father, released MTV documentary re:sanity and embarked on high-grossing Circus world tour

Christina Aguilera

We first Knew Her as: Spears’ fellow Mouseketeer on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” Star Search contestant, singer of “Reflection” from Disney's Mulan

Achieved Major Stardom as: A Genie In a Bottle, baby

And Then: Released a Spanish-language album. You know, because her dad is from Ecuador. Strangely did not release Irish music CD to celebrate mother’s heritage.

And Then: Got “Dirrrty” and “Stripped,” dyed hair black, wore questionably revealing outfits, shed teen bubble gum pop image

Followed by: Vaguely Marilyn Monroe-esque re-reinvention, more mature musical style, fewer morally reprehensible music videos

Now: Canceled pending 2010 tour in midst of underwhelming ticket sales

Jessica Simpson

We first knew her as: Small-town Texan Christian singer with unreleased album (her minor Gospel label went under)

Achieved Major Stardom: Sweet Kisses album with top-charting singles “I Want to Love You Forever” and “I Think I’m In Love With You”

Plus: Dated second-tier Boy Band 98 Degrees front man Nick Lachey

And Then: Married Lachey; the two costarred as newlyweds in the cleverly named reality series Newlyweds. Gained reputation as dumb blonde for inability to distinguish between chicken and tuna

Maintained Fame With: Much-publicized and scantily-clad role in the film adaptation of The Dukes of Hazzard

Downslide: Divorce, dwindling record sales, straight-to-DVD movie roles, rocky romances with John Mayer and Tony Romo. Overly publicized weight gain exacerbated by sadistic stylist with an inexplicable penchant for skintight Daisy Dukes

Now: Return to reality TV with VH1’s The Price of Beauty, serves as general muse for hairstylist Ken Paves

Mandy Moore

Achieved Major Stardom as: Opening act for boy band Backstreet Boys; released top single “Candy” featuring a music video in which the then-15 year old Moore drives a green Volkswagon Beetle

And Then: Released lightweight album I Wanna Be With You; title single featured in teen ballet movie Center Stage

And Then: Appeared in numerous films including The Princess Diaries, A Walk to Remember, Chasing Liberty, and Saved; far exceeded cinematic success of teen pop princess peers

Also: Dated Wilmer Valderamma, Andy Roddick, Zack Braff, DJ AM; settled down and married singer Ryan Adams in 2009

Should be Noted: Moore deserves some form of 90s Pop Princess prize for maintaining her down-to-earth reputation through her journey from teen star to adult celebrity, though I call for a slight point deduction for her preoccupation with and persistent attendance at Ultimate Fighting Championship events

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