- No matter what year it is, there’s always some toy kids are obsessed with.
- But the world has changed a lot in the past 60 years or so – some of our favourite toys are no longer available for kids to play with now.
- Some of this might be for the better, like discontinuing Clackers, but others toys are still sorely missed, like Pound Puppies.
As long as there have been kids, there have been toys: in fact,kites and yo-yos have been around since 1000 BCE.
But not all toys have stood the test of time in that way.
From favourite toys that have undergone significant changes rendering them almost unrecognizable, like Skip-Its and Erector Sets, to toys that were actually found to be unsafe, like Sky Dancers and Clackers, keep scrolling to find out which ones we still miss dearly.
HitClips had a short life, but they remain in the hearts of every ’90s kid.
HitClips were mini stereos that came with little memory-card like cartridges that played 60-second clips of your favourite songs.
From 1999 until 2004, HitClips were the ultimate status symbol – the more of those little cartridges you had clipped to your key-chain, the cooler you were. But all good things come to an end. When iPods and other mp3 players hit the scene, HitClips were suddenly obsolete.
But who knows? Everyone thought vinyl was done forever too, and now record players are on sale at Urban Outfitters.
But HitClips weren’t the first personal stereo. ’80s kids preferred Pocket Rockers.
While HitClips were digital, Pocket Rockers were like carrying miniature 8-Tracks in your pocket. But, unlike HitClips, tapes contained two full songs, not just a 60-second snippet.
Clackers — while fun — would occasionally explode and led to them getting banned by the US government in 1976.
Clackers still exist, but not in their original (read: more dangerous) form. Clackers were popular in the ’60s and ’70s and were very simple: just two acrylic balls attached to each end of a string, meant to be smacked together loudly. The only problem was that sometimes the balls would smack together so forcefully that they’d explode.
Widespread fear of exploding Clackers led to the amazingly named 1976 case, “United States v. An Article of Hazardous Substance Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls,” which led to the ban of acrylic Clackers.
It was fun while it lasted.
Skip-Its were huge in the ’80s and ’90s, because they were one of a few toys that encouraged kids to get up and move.
Playing with a Skip-It was easy enough. You’d slide the loop onto one ankle, and have it swing around your feet in circles, hopping over it every time it passed your other leg – or else you’d trip and fall, or whack yourself with it. Later iterations even had a counter, so you could monitor your progress.
Skip-Its were released in the ’80s, and received a makeover as well as Nickelodeon commercials in the ’90s, which turned them into one of the hottest toys of the time. They got kids moving, and inspired fierce competition.
Now, Skip-Its are hard to come by in their original form, if not impossible. There are plenty of imitators, but the only original Skip-Its out now have been turned into the “Twister Rave Skip It Game.” Too many bells and whistles have changed why this simple toy was so popular to begin with.
The Talkboy was a fake toy used by Kevin in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” but fans of the film demanded it — so a toy company made a real version.
In “Home Alone 2,” Kevin uses his Talkboy to record his voice and distort it to make him sound like an adult – seems like a useful toy, right? Unfortunately, it was just a prop that director John Hughes dreamt up to help Kevin’s scheme.
This recording technology would become outdated by the next decade, and was set aside for more portable toys without cassette tapes. You can find Talkboys on eBay for as low as $US10. Even though you can do pretty much everything a Talkboy could do on your smartphone, you won’t look as cool as Kevin McCallister and his gadgets.
There are many imitators, but the original Erector Sets were discontinued in the ’80s.
Erector Sets were super simple, but super popular. Created in 1913, they were just sets of metal beams of various sizes, nuts, and bolts that kids could build whatever they wanted with. The possibilities were elatingly endless.
However, Erector Sets became more and more complicated, end began including power plants, trains, and even a fully functioning Ferris Wheel.
Plastic toys eventually overtook the metal Erector Sets, which were discontinued in the ’80s. However, their legacy lives on: they were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998.
Meccano, one of the original competitors of Erector, bought the company in the 2000s and currently sells its own version, but it’s just not the same.
Until Beanie Babies came along, Pound Puppies were everyone’s favourite stuffed animals.
Pound Puppies were created by Mike Bowling in 1984, and were sold by popular toy truck brand Tonka. Their popularity could be attributed to their emotional manipulation – their hangdog eyes and sad face hanging out of a cardboard doghouse were impossible for kids to ignore on the shelf.
By 1988, the popularity of Pound Puppies was declining and they eventually disappeared from shelves. Their popularity was revived by a 2010 animated TV show, also called “Pound Puppies,” but the show ended in 2013 – and with that, sadly, the merchandise disappeared as well.
If you thought Barbie was promoting an unrealistic body image, you might be forgetting about Leggy dolls.
Leggys were 10 inches long, with legs that consisted of at least 75% of that. Their names were all appropriately ’70s: Jill, Nan, Kate, and Sue. Maybe that’s why they haven’t stood the test of time: Leggys were only around from 1972 and 1973.
Poo-Chis were one of the first robo-pets to steal our hearts in the new millennium.
Poo-Chis were the dream gift for any kid whose parents wouldn’t let them have a living and breathing pet. It could recognise your voice, perform tricks, and even talk to other Poo-Chis. It needed to be “fed,” and would have a different personality depending on how often you trained it.
For the new millennium, this was a huge deal. But Poo-Chis were discontinued in 2002 after the advent of FurReal Friends, which did all of the above and were soft and huggable. Still, we wouldn’t mind seeing Poo-Chis make a comeback. There’s something cute and retro about their bubblebum pink ears and digital eyes.
Game Boys, in all their shapes and sizes, were the hottest toys of the ’90s and 2000s.
The first Game Boy was released in Japan in April 1989, and the world of gaming was forever changed. You could finally take your favourite video games with you on the go. Game Boy mania hit a fever pitch when it was released a few months later in the US.
All of Nintendo’s heavy hitters appeared in Game Boy games, and a few even made their debut there, like Pokémon and Kirby. Throughout the next two decades many advancements were made, such as the Game Boy Colour, released in ’98, and the Game Boy Advance in 2001.
According to The Guardian, the earlier iterations of the Game Boy were discontinued in the early 2000s, and the Advance followed in 2007. While the Nintendo DS was released in 2004, nothing beats the retro look and feel of the 8-bit Game Boy graphics.
The Speak & Spell was developed by iconic calculator brand Texas Instruments to help kids learn to spell.
First developed in 1978, the Speak & Spell was a must-have for any kid learning how to spell. Essentially, it would say words out loud, and kids would have to figure out how to spell said words, using memorization and the pronunciation. It was so popular it even made an appearance in films like “Toy Story” and “E.T.”
Speak & Spells stopped being produced in the ’90s, and now there are hundreds of apps that kids can use that do the same thing – but without the weirdly endearing robot voice.
Little Miss Echo dolls were able to repeat words back to you.
The name says it all: Little Miss Echo dolls would echo anything you said using a tape recorder hidden inside of them. Echo dolls were larger than most dolls, coming in at 13 inches. In comparison, Barbies are 11.5 inches.
According to Vintage Doll Repair, Echo dolls were only produced from 1962 to 1963, and were only sold until 1965. While modern dolls put these to shame, they retain a sense of nostalgia we can’t quite shake.
Micronauts were popular in the ’70s and ’80s — and they might be making a comeback in 2020.
Micronauts were Transformers-esque action figures with their own interesting backstory. Micronauts, as established by a Marvel comics storyline, are too small for the naked eye to see and are constantly raging war against the evil Acroyears. The super popular toy was manufactured by Mego from 1976 until 1980 before the company sadly went bankrupt, taking Micronauts with them.
But Micronauts fans can rejoice. In December 2017, Den of Geek wrote that a Micronauts movie is coming in 2020 produced by Hasbro and Paramount. Who knows, maybe the film will inspire a new version of the toy.
Sky Dancers were very popular for six years… until they were recalled for being hazardous.
Sky Dancers, introduced in 1994, were dolls attached to a plastic base. Kids were directed to pull a string on said base, causing the Sky Dancer dolls to spin and fly.
However, these dolls were not all fun and games. The company that manufactured them, Galoob, received 170 complaints before recalling them. According to CNN Money, injuries included “eye injuries, scratched corneas, and incidents of temporary blindness, broken teeth, a mild concussion, a broken rib, and facial lacerations that required stitches.”
They were off the market by 2000 – but let’s be honest, all the best toys have a little edge to them, and watching the Sky Dancers fly was super fun.
The expression “chatty Cathy” comes straight from the popular ’60s doll of the same name.
Chatty Cathy really earned her name – if you pulled a string on her back, she’d say one of 11 pre programmed phrases. For 1959, this was groundbreaking technology.
In hindsight, Chatty Cathy might have been a bit creepy. A “Twilight Zone” episode called “Living Doll,” was essentially based on Cathy, except that this doll was named Talky Tina – and Tina was even voiced by the original Chatty Cathy, June Foray.
Perhaps this creepiness led to Cathy’s discontinuation in 1966. Even though Cathy could be considered unnerving today, she was downright innovative in 1959, and there are plenty of kids who grew up in the ’60s that love and miss their Chatty Cathy dolls.
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