Toys are a risky business, it’s never easy to gauge what a child will find interesting or fun. Kids play with boxes, dirt and their own boogers. That’s a tough market to crack. Worse, some toys can clearly be super fun but too damn dangerous (according to adults) while other toys are clearly just lazy attempts to try to make money with no thought behind them whatsoever, just a lot of skillful marketing. With that in mind, here’s 11 toys from the 80s and 90s no sane person would try to sell you in 2014.
The entire Masters of the Universe toy line merits its own article for poor decisions and ghastly design/name issues, but if we want to pick just one amongst the many to be the jewel in He-Man’s turd crown it has to be Stinkor, and the metaphor is exceptionally accurate as Stinkor’s gimmick was literal stink.
If you’re a He-Man aficionado you will have noticed Stinkor is a hardcore jobber. He’s a repainted Mer-Man figure wearing the armor of the truly idiotic character Mekaneck, who was a human periscope. He sucked so bad he didn’t even get into the cartoon. His defining characteristic was that Mattel embedded the plastic with patchouli. So basically Stinkor is a dirty hippie in hand-me-down clothes. To this day if you have a Stinkor figure, it still stinks.
The Power Glove
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The only reason any child ever purchased this clunky monstrosity is because of Fred Savage. That man owes a generation of kids $60 or so. The Power Glove was Nintendo’s answer to a question no one ever asked – “is there a way to make playing Nintendo harder and less fulfilling?” Of course there was. It was a dirty glove.
Thanks to the movie The Wizard we all believed the Power Glove would make us gods of Super Mario 3 and getting to California was as easy as letting Rain Man and a redhead lead the way. We would gesture like some kind of 8-bit Merlin and Mario would swoop, dive and jump. We would be the ultimate puppet master and video game interactivity would achieve bold new heights of awesome.
Unfortunately the Power Glove did mostly nothing for nearly every game on Nintendo. They marketed barely any Power Glove specific games, and those they did market sucked like a Dyson. This left it as a regular controller that you had to use on your forearm, something only kids who snacked on lead paint had been asking for.
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Is any toy more loathsome in the world of knock offs than the Go Bots? Ironically, the Go Bots came out commercially several months before the Transformers, it’s just that they were inferior in every way so people naturally assumed they were knock offs. If you need proof they were inferior look no further than the character named Scooter. You see, he transformed into a scooter. The Transformers have Soundwave, and Starscream, and Megatron, and Grimlock and Slag. Go Bots have Scooter and Mr. Moto. Nothing could save the Go Bots from their own lameness, not their names, not their terrible transformations, nothing.
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Toys for girls have always been a bit of an issue for toy makers because, for a solid 1000 years or so, girls toy have been dolls. Then later they had toy vacuums and an Easy Bake Oven. But always dolls. Barbie and Midge and Skipper and Brunhilda and so on. But boys have robots and dinosaurs and soldiers and Garbage Pail Kids and guns and knives and cowboys and cops and trucks and a million other things. How do we bridge the gap? Easy! We make He-Man for girls. Call it She-Ra because that sounds lame.
No girl ever really wanted to play with He-Man, he was a ‘roided out Village Person sex fantasy. His half-assed sister got her own TV series and toy line that was a carbon copy of He-Man if the carbon got smudged with turd. All of the characters are basically second rate versions of the He-Man ones, and that’s especially sad when you consider how many of He-Man’s characters, like Fisto and Ram Man, are already second rate. No boy wanted to play with She-Ra because she was the lady version of He-Man. It was cancelled after 2 seasons and the character was never heard from again.
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In a stunningly insulting dig into the wallets of parents everywhere, Pogs were literally cardboard discs. You threw a heavier plastic disc at piles of them and then you and all your friends tried to stave off terrible boredom and the urge to drink drain cleaner as a meansto attain sweet, slightly more entertaining release.
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The Space Hopper was scientifically designed by NASA engineers to ensure the highest ration of bounce to face plants possible. No other toy in the world was guaranteed to make you kiss dirt faster or more often.
Off Brand Crayons
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From Redditor Katiedidit
Woe be to the child who ever took their Crayola crayons for granted. You never knew how great a Crayola was until the day your parents gave you crayons from the dollar store and you tried to color anything at all. Unlike the smooth, colorful Crayola, off brand crayons seemed to have been made from melted down candles with chunks of sorrow embedded in them. They’d make uneven pale lines on any sort of paper with random bits of darker color scattered here and there and infuriate any child until they gave up on coloring altogether and settled on alife of running the streets and eating that sweet, sweet heroin.
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To many, lawn darts or jarts, if you will, was an awesome toy. But its awesomeness sis precisely why no one makes them anymore – they were siege weapon to hurled across a yard at your friends. Kids were injured by these things all the time, and literally killed. How many of your childhood toys ever killed someone? Why would you give a child a toy that can kill them?
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The Pogo Stick was invented more or less in 1920 in Germany. Since that time its sole purpose has been to maim children and adults alike, anyone foolish enough to grab hold and presume they could defy gravity by leaping towards the heavens and towards a god who was all too happy to thwart them back to the cold, uncaring Earth. Once mankind agreed the Pogo Stick was too dangerous it was banished to the far corners of the world where only the most negligent or drunken parents would allow their kids to use it. It was then replaced with the Pogo Ball, which was the exact same idea only without a stick to help stabilize and balance you.
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There was an intangible awesomeness about the idea of Sea Monkeys, these mysterious beasts of the deep that would soon be your pets in an undersea kingdom of your own design. Then the reality was you had a bowl of brine shrimp and the directions that came with them said they could do tricks just by shaking their aquarium but really you were just smashing them all to death for your amusement. That’s some grim shit.