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One of the few remaining Tamagotchi clubs in the world is in Toronto

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A '90s phenomenon is having a comeback in Toronto as nostalgic millennials dust off their Tamagotchis.

“I remember thinking to myself, 'I can’t be the last person in the city of Toronto playing Tamagotchi,'” Twoey Gray told CTV News Toronto.

Tamagotchi club members at an in-person meet up in Toronto (Supplied).

The 27-year-old has had a palm-sized pixelated pet since she was 10 years old. Back in elementary school, she joined forces with other kids and organized play dates for their virtual companions.

As that memory recently resurfaced, she wanted to manifest it once again. So Gray created a poster in December reading,“My Tamagotchi has no friends,” and distributed it around town and online, inviting others to relish in nineties nostalgia with her at the Allan Gardens greenhouse.

To her delight, almost a dozen people attended, forming one of the world’s last in-person Tamagotchi clubs. William Maneja was one of them.

“I remember seeing Tamagotchis for the first time at summer camp, they were everywhere, around 2004,” he said.

Twoey Gray and her Tamagotchi in Toronto (Supplied). He was cleaning his room during a pandemic-era lockdown when he came across his Tamagotchi, which also dated back to when he was 10 years old. “It was lonely,” he said. “I reignited my love for Tamagotchi.”

The 27-year-old launched an Instagram account dedicated to Tamagotchi-related posts, which has gained nearly 600 followers, including Gray who invited him to join the Toronto Tamagotchi Club.

“For me, the Tamagotchi has been helpful with my mental health. Last year I had a very distressing event and in the middle of that event, the thing that allowed me to return to myself was the Tamagotchi,” Gray said.

“I think Tamagotchis are a virtual pet, but it feels like a very analogue connection,” she added.

William Maneaka's Tamagotchi in Toronto (Supplied).

While Gray and Maneja resurrected their prized possessions from childhood, Tamagotchis are still sold on eBay and Amazon for anywhere between $4 to $300, depending on the rarity.

Tamagotchi even launched a new model earlier this month, aimed at tapping into the “worldwide virtual frenzy in the '90s,” with an update that can connect to the “Tamaverse,” the metaverse of the Tamagotchi world.

Jane Eva Baxter, an associate professor and chair of anthropology at DePaul University, said toymakers actually count on adults’ longing to return to their carefree associations tied to childhood objects.

She pointed to solving a Rubik’s cube or logging into FarmVille as comparable to reaching back to the time these audiences grew up, alongside the rise of these games.

“It’s a form of escapism,” Baxter said.

“Objects don't exist in isolation,” she said. “They are associated with time and space.”

Recently, Gray hosted a second Tamagotchi meetup in Kensington Market, and already has another one on deck for this summer.

“Being able to nerd out with people who share your experiences … is something a lot of people have been craving for a long time,” she said.  

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