Enough womd!
March 21, 2003 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Let's talk about childhood toys. A wander down memory lane, past care-bears and etch-a-sketches and barrel-o-monkeys. Warning: this site resulted in the bidding up of auctions for Weebles "Tree House" action sets. I'd forgotten how marvelously upright they remained until I whipped their little egg-like bodies out of a second-story window onto concrete. What was your favorite childhood toy? Do you still have it, or do you have the sudden need to re-acquire it?
posted by answergrape (47 comments total)
LEGO were my favourite toy, I played with them daily till about grade eight. I've even recently started playing with the LEGO MindStorm robotics kit.
posted by substrate at 8:56 AM on March 21, 2003

"whipped". ha!
posted by jpoulos at 9:00 AM on March 21, 2003

I must have seen this ad a thousand times as a kid. I so wanted a BB gun, but my mean old parents wouldn't let me shoot it indoors. Wah.
posted by yhbc at 9:03 AM on March 21, 2003

My absolutely favorite was a playdough skillet that made a sizzle sound when you put playdough on it. It rocked and boy could I cook up some bacon on that bitch!
posted by bmxGirl at 9:08 AM on March 21, 2003

Commish! Weren't you allowed outdoors?

I had the pump model, and spend many joyous days shooting at rabbits, squirrels and birds around my suburban neighborhood. Until I peered around a corner for a brilliant shot at some species or another preening on a picnic table. Seconds after the kill, my mom got a hysterical call from the neighbor who had been peacefully birdwatching out her back window, in all likelihood with a relaxing cup of joe, when the object of her gaze exploded in a cloud of feathers.

I got in big trouble for that one, yeah. Funny.
posted by luser at 9:09 AM on March 21, 2003

Actually strolling down the first page brought back my childhood longings after some of those very toys. I would have killed for an Etch a Sketch. I didn't get many new or gimmicky toys but I did have lots of basic old toys that had accumulated during the childhoods of my six older siblings.

I did however have a Holly Hobby doll. Mys sister had Holly Hobby's best friend, Heather. Holly's bonnet was glued in place and when I wrenched it off one day I found she's actually bald with just the braids in front. I think she's still in the toybox at my parents' place. She also has corduroy mittens stitched in place now. If I'd known she was going to be a collectible someday I wouldn't have chewed on her hands as a toddler.

I liked my arts and crafts materials, and my dolls the best - I especially liked making clothes and furniture for my dolls.
posted by orange swan at 9:09 AM on March 21, 2003

The Green Machine. Oh yeah.
posted by bradth27 at 9:11 AM on March 21, 2003

Big Wheel + Steep Driveway = Yeah, Buddy.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:15 AM on March 21, 2003

Weebles rock, but LEGO is never outgrown.
posted by Foosnark at 9:18 AM on March 21, 2003

Optimus Prime: Defending liberty in Iraq.
posted by o2b at 9:18 AM on March 21, 2003

Micronauts. It's all about the Micronauts.
posted by dyaseen at 9:23 AM on March 21, 2003

The best toy ever was the Fisher Price Printing Press. That thing rocked, I could make my own newspapers and everything. Sadly, my rotten kid sisters destroyed me lovely printing press. I troll around Ebay occassionally trying to find one but haven't had any luck yet.
posted by jodic at 9:25 AM on March 21, 2003

I so wanted a BB gun...

You'll shoot your eye out, kid.
posted by Shane at 9:26 AM on March 21, 2003

Retrocrush is fan flipping tastic, as is this post. But as a fan of potentially offensive TITLE tags, I'm compelled to point out the title tag on their homepage. Ten points to the first person who can tell me where that quote is from. Hint: it's in very bad taste.
posted by jonson at 9:29 AM on March 21, 2003

At age 33, I still have all my Legos.

I can find NO trace on-line of Earthquake Tower. It was a big plastic and cardboard skyscraper with little plastic people that would fall to their deaths when you pushed a button at the base. Great fun. It also came with a sound effects record.

I will give an open mouth kiss to anyone who can find me one, or even a picture of one.

And then there was this, which I broke about 50 seconds after opening the box on Christmas morning.
posted by bondcliff at 9:30 AM on March 21, 2003

D'oh! Munged hyperlink in my post above. Try this.
posted by jonson at 9:36 AM on March 21, 2003

Well, Gnip Gnop was good, but you can't beat a Hoppity Hop for pure fun and danger (try going down the stairs).
posted by Samsonov14 at 9:48 AM on March 21, 2003

I'm sentimental about my 1969 Talking Astronaut GI Joe (and those vintage Joe trappings) and some Marvel Megos and Aurora Dinosaur model kits, most of which I still have. Big-Little books (Major Matt Mason!) and comics, too. These are all classics...

But I really wish I still had my Spider Bike, with banana seat and monkey-handlebars. Man, I spent hours on that thing.
posted by Shane at 9:56 AM on March 21, 2003

try going down the stairs

Haha! I remember trying just that!
I think we called them Hippity Hops, not Hoppity Hops, though(?)
posted by Shane at 9:59 AM on March 21, 2003

Oh man, I used to ride my Sit 'N Spin for literally hours. I'd stop, be amazingly dizzy, then get back on and go the other direction, logically assuming that it would reverse my dizziness.
posted by o2b at 10:08 AM on March 21, 2003

Oh those f'ing LED sports games. Here's an "Emulator" for them.

I had forgotten about the Ghost Gun. Too cool.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:12 AM on March 21, 2003

I feel SO much better talking about toys. Better then a blue bunny blanket and matching bunny slippers! How about speak and spell! (yeah, big geek. Even as a kid)Try
the speak and spell emulator.

posted by answergrape at 10:24 AM on March 21, 2003

My all-time favorite toy(s) as a kid: Major Matt Mason, Mattel's Man in Space! I had it all. Unfortunately, I no longer have it, and if I did it'd go for trillions of dollars on eBay.

The Thingmaker was another old favorite, particularly when in addition to Plastigoop they added some kind of edible goop so you could eat your Creepy Crawlers.

I also loved Johnny Astro, in which you made "spaceships" out of balloons and little plastic landing gear you'd tape to the bottom, and make them "really fly!" by manipulating this radar dish-looking fan. Thing is, I was never really good at "flying" those things.

But perhaps my second-favorite was the Strange Change Time Machine, also from the fabulous Mattel. I had hours and hours of fun with that thing. Unfortunately, neither the Time Machine nor the Thingmaker would never be allowed today because they had a heating elements in them. Dangerous, shmangerous ... I survived!
posted by chuq at 10:31 AM on March 21, 2003

I collected Shogun Warriors as a kid.

I still have a few
posted by quibx at 10:55 AM on March 21, 2003

I think we called them Hippity Hops, not Hoppity Hops, though(?)

I could swear mine was a "Ride-a-Roo" and had pointy ears to use as handles, but I can only find meager confirmation of such an incarnation on the web.
posted by yhbc at 11:02 AM on March 21, 2003

My favorite childhood toy memory was scaring the crap outta my friend's kid brother with the "evil" microphone on Snake Mountain.

Even at 7 years old, I was like "Damn! Hasn't this kid seen the commercial?"
posted by wrench at 11:06 AM on March 21, 2003

ps. nice collection quibx. Where's the Gucci versions?
posted by wrench at 11:08 AM on March 21, 2003

quibx you ROCK! Your shrine to the transformer is truly magnificent.
If I tried that with Strawberry Shortcake dolls (warning, animation/sound), the smell would require a hazmat team to dissipate!
posted by answergrape at 11:10 AM on March 21, 2003

We build machines for children to spin around and around on until they make themselves sick. Adults can just drink tequila. I still have my Hoppity Hop. Maybe I'll drink some tequila and then tackle those stairs.
posted by rainbaby at 11:11 AM on March 21, 2003

Micronauts were way cool - especially the air-tube transport thing I had for them. But my lifelong love is Lego. I've still got a pretty large box of them, and I have dreams about what I'll build with them when I eventually have a larger apartment with room to get them out again.
posted by dnash at 11:26 AM on March 21, 2003

good link, answergrape --- nostalgic pix, though that guy is a porno obsessive, no?

anyway, my kidhood favorites fall into hi-tech and lo-tech categories. hi-tech includes the Fisher-Price Printing Press (nice one, jodic!), my Speak & Spell and Speak & Math units (i can still hear the warbling electronic music very clearly...), and the awesome PXL-2000, the kid's video camera that recorded grainy b/w images and sound on an audio tape! i craved this thing, and my friend had one...damn you, Santa!

on the lo-tech side, Lite-Brite is at the top of the heap -- simple, captivating, reusable, just plain cool. I also had these plastic"clomper stomper" things, basically a plastic version of walking around on tin cans with strings attached, oooh fun. and in winter, i had a nearly useless but still fun "igloo maker," a plastic mold for making snow bricks.
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:42 AM on March 21, 2003

One of the angriest I ever saw mom get was when I accidentally shot her in the face with my Tracer Gun. I never saw it again after that. (the gun) If I'd have thought of it then I could have said..."listen, tracer guns don't hurt moms...little boys..." yada yada. (btw, mom was a school teacher back in the days when paddling was still accepted, and she kept a paddle at home too...back-talk was a stupid thing to do in my house)

And bondcliff, I never heard of Earthquake Tower, but a tinkertoy skyscraper with old readers digests as the different floors worked pretty good.
posted by Cedric at 11:44 AM on March 21, 2003

How about NEW toys? I have to admit these [WARNING WILL ROBINSON: IMMINENT BROWSER RESIZE!] are intriguing, although a little expensive for their size. Then there's always toy soldiers, although the best are out of my price range (word is that Harlan Ellison has a huge toy soldier collection*).

I picked up this guy (with motion sensor activated sound effects WARNING WILL ROBINSON!) a while back. But the magic is never the same...

*From Ellison's site:
Fans, readers, and good-hearted souls keep sending Harlan little gifts, "tokens of their esteem". The thoughts are usually very nice and much appreciated, but usually it's nothing he can use, or has room for. HE thanks you, but says he'd rather you didn't. From time to time we (and Rick Wyatt on the website) ask for youse guys to look for something special HE needs; but otherwise, if you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT restrain yourself, here's a tip from the RABBIT HOLE editor: he loves historical miniatures. (What we laypersons call "toy soldiers")

posted by Shane at 12:01 PM on March 21, 2003

Big Wheel + Steep Driveway = Yeah, Buddy.

oh my freaking god, grabbingsand: that is a photo of the exact model of big wheel that i had. man those things kicked some ass. i would so kill for a adult-sized version -- ah, low to the ground, bombing hills, braking into skids. yeah.

that said, i mostly played with blocks (my dad wanted me to be an engineer). but i have fond memories of :

my "rainbow" atari 2600 (which i recently repurchased on ebay and have about 50-60 games for, including a shrinkwrapped Kangaroo)
commodore 64 (for which I had "Rampage", and "Spy Hunter", and all sorts of tawdry pixelated games.)
slot cars (i don't think our family ever owned a slot car track, but i had friends that did, and i'm still itching to buy a set -- especially now that they have a mini model. sweet..)
EXXXTREME POGOBALL (ok, i didn't have a pogoball, and thus, never got extreme, but my sister had two, and i couldn't resist the link -- and i've just been informed that that bastard StanChin is stealing my link, so you heard it here first, yo.)
wooden trains (they were some brand, actually, can't recall.)
friction cars with the plastic loop de loop track. man that kicked ass.
lastly, Super MarbleWorks which was this really cool set of inconnecting plastic funnels that you could run marbles through.

(oh, and let's not forget hungry hungry hippos. I recently looked into buying one of these, but I've heard the repros are crap.)

man, i should open a toy store. i know what's hot.

or a vintage toy store -- like the one i once found in the little town of Davis, California. Man that store rocked. They had a full-on Voltron (not the one piece -- the one that you could build if you had all the tigers) and I still regret not buying it.

man. i think i'm going to go buy some voltron dvds, actually.

curse you metafilter.
posted by fishfucker at 12:37 PM on March 21, 2003

Fishfucker:wooden trains (they were some brand, actually, can't recall.)

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:45 PM on March 21, 2003

Spud guns. Not the lethal potato cannons in vogue today. Spud guns were little handheld two-piece pistols that worked on a piston principle. You jammed the barrel into a potato to get a small plug wedged into the barrel. Pulling the trigger actually forced the two pieces of the pistol together and air pressure forced the plug of potato to fly out. When you got bored of shooting each other, you could eat your ammo supply
posted by joaquim at 2:55 PM on March 21, 2003

Three words: Stretch Armstrong, baby.
posted by tristeza at 4:12 PM on March 21, 2003

I loved my Sit 'N Spin. I'd play on that thing for hours. : )

I also liked Dolly Pops and had loads of Glamour Gals/Dazzle Dolls. (Those dolls were exactly the right size for my dollhouse.)
posted by SisterHavana at 5:32 PM on March 21, 2003

I still have my Merlin.

Also, I bought a re-released version of Mattel's Football II game at Target for about thirteen bucks two months ago.
posted by beth at 7:50 PM on March 21, 2003

Stretch and Dolph: Separated at birth?
posted by Shane at 8:46 PM on March 21, 2003

Warning: this site resulted in the bidding up of auctions for Weebles "Tree House" action sets. I'd forgotten how marvelously upright they remained until I whipped their little egg-like bodies out of a second-story window onto concrete.

I remember trying to "drown" some Weebles by shoving them underwater, but as soon as I removed my hand, the Weeble shot upward out of the water as if it were a bullet from a gun. Those things do not stay down!!
posted by jonp72 at 9:24 PM on March 21, 2003

i keep meaning to buy myself a (new) spirograph, i adored it when i was little, could play with it for hours. that and lite brite, altho' we were forever losing the coloured pegs.

there's an online version of lite brite, or you can go to lite brite camp
posted by t r a c y at 9:56 PM on March 21, 2003

I was able to successfully drown a weeble once they'd been thrown out the second story window :)
posted by answergrape at 10:05 PM on March 21, 2003

My least favorite toy that I was frightened of was a Teddy Ruxpin. My favorite toy when I was little though was definitely the Pound Puppy. I still have them at my parent's house :)
posted by gatorae at 12:36 AM on March 22, 2003

Ohhh, definately was my Jane West doll complete with buckboard and wagon! And who could forget Colorforms?
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 1:08 AM on March 22, 2003

Big Trak!!
posted by roboto at 8:52 AM on March 22, 2003

(I still have my childhood Barbie.) My folks would buy me outfits for her when I would babysit my younger brother and sister. She was the copper-colored "bubble top" Barbie (on the left, in this pic, she came with the red swim suit seen 2nd from right) and this was back when you could get a gold brocade gown and coat with fur-tipped sleeves and pillbox hat, green satin opera suit with white satin shell, also complete with pillbox hat, etc. I also had an aunt who sewed exquisite doll clothes and she made me ball gowns, a wool suite, even a fur coat! I never had any of the houses, etc., so I made stuff for Barbie, including a stove, refrigerator and kitchen counter out of shoeboxes, smaller boxes, bobby pins, etc. Later I scored a real store-bought Barbie vanity, that was cool! Also had one of the early cars, a salmon colored plastic thing vaguely resembling an Austin Healy that she could sit in, to which I added a large button for a usable steering wheel! You know, I never felt oppressed when I played with my Barbie....
posted by Lynsey at 12:59 PM on March 22, 2003

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