A long long time ago, if you wanted to listen to your fave music on the go, you had to put a CD (!) into a portable CD player, which was small enough for you to carry in the days before both of your hands were needed to text at any given moment. Sony's version was called a Discman™. It was kind of an unwieldy product, and if you walked too fast—God forbid you try to run—or if the thing was in a mood, it would skip. Just when you were ready to scream along to Avril Lavigne's "Complicated," you'd be thrown into the middle of a totally different song.
Compared to the technology it was sandwiched between—the walkman and the ipod—the Discman was pretty awful. But the one cool thing was when companies started deviating from the standard design, and putting out all kinds of crazy colors: red, lime green, blue, gold, pink, solid white, and more. In addition, there were novelty designs, most of which are pretty ugly. These are the best of the worst:
Sportsball Discman for sports
This one is for SPORTS???? Is it for listening to Sports? Is it for throwing like a sports ball? Is it supposed to skip less when you run? Because I DOUBT IT.
Too hot to handle
Isn't your brother so lame? Can you even believe how lame he is? Why would he embarass you by carrying around this magical flames CD player when you're over here trying so hard to make cool popular friends!?
Rocking out with Bratz
Bratz are like Barbie's strange cousins. Their heads are way too big and they are supposed to be a little edgy. But I didn't know anyone loved them enough to buy a Rock Angels Bratz CD player.
Pretty pretty princess music
There is no object that exists in the entire world that does not come with Disney Princesses on it because children love Disney Princesses, for better or worse. All of the princesses do sing, so I guess this makes sense.
Spongebob Round Disc
The entire premise of Spongebob is that he's a square sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea, which makes the VERY ROUND Spongebob CD player just feel wrong. Unlike the other CD players, this one has some commentary: In 2004, a lady named Laura Stegmann wrote an Amazon review about her experience with this product—she claimed that the device was flawed because you can't "set" the volume and "the child can make it as loud as he or she wants which could present longterm hearing issues," which, in my opinion, is a pretty damn good point. But let's move on. (Note: Amazon does not sell this product and I am not sure if it ever has).
A tire, but from the car from Cars
I found that the most common kind of novelty CD player were ones created for and marketed to children. Some make sense—girls might be infatuated with Bratz dolls, I guess, and kids did certainly love Spongebob in the early 2000s. But this one really stumped me. A CD player featuring Lightning McQueen of Disney's Cars (there is also a player just for Cars). Not only is this exceptionally ugly, but it's from 2006! Who was buying a CD player in 2006? Oh: probably parents who wanted to send a kid to his room to listen to Kidz Bop. Quiet time.
Did you have a novelty CD player or know of a super good one we missed? Email Kelsey.mckinney [at] fusion.net and I'll add it in.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.