The 8 Worst Toys Of The '90s Will Definitely Make You Cringe
Ask any '90s kid and they'll tell you the same — growing up in the '90s was da bomb. And while part of that had to do with the wealth of wonderful toys we had during our childhood, we can't deny that the decade suffered some serious miscalculations in the playtime department. The worst toys of the '90s ranged from inappropriate to downright dangerous because, c'mon, what else would you expect from such an overachieving time? It wasn't enough to just fizzle; the '90s went above and beyond when it came to playtime fails.
Looking back at my childhood now, I'm often struck by how amazing it is my siblings and I even made it through the decade with all of our parts, pieces, and faculties in tact. From dolls that brought up incredibly questionable conversations about self-image to trading pieces that doubled as projectile missiles, many toys in the '90s may have been fun, but should probably have skipped the conveyor belt headed for mass consumerism. Let's take a look at eight of these terrible '90s toys and give thanks we were too young at the time to realize our childhood was a grab bag of weirdness.
1. Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid
Don't get me wrong; Cabbage Patch Kids are adorable! You know, usually. But this particularly edition involved feeding plastic food into the doll's mechanized head, which was also prone to catching hair and pulling unassuming and understandably terrified children in the direction of its faux-french-fry-grinding mouth. Roughly a year later, Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid was officially recalled and parents were issued a $40 refund.
2. Plastic Balloons
Although plastic balloons (aka Super Elastic Bubble Plastic) originated in the '70s, the product piqued in popularity in the '90s when it was the go-to favor into birthday party grab boxes. You know the deal: you used a thin straw to blow semi-solid bubbles out of viscous polyvinyl acetate dissolved in acetone, with ethyl acetate plastic fortifiers added in for good measure. 'Cause that sounds like a fun activity for kids, right?
3. Jibba Jabber
The entire appeal of Jibba Jabber dolls was the oddly delightful and distinct sound they made as you held them by their necks and shook them... which, unfortunately, also resembled choking or strangulation. Later on, the manufacturer, Ertl, began including inserts in the doll's packaging discouraging Shaken Baby Syndrome. The toy was also recommended for adults as a stress reliever.
4. My Bundle Baby
Introduced in 1992, My Bundle Baby allowed little girls to pretend they were pregnant by strapping on the forward-facing backpack (a frontpack?) equivalent of a uterus. A button on this bizarre bundle would simulate kicks and an audible heartbeat from the baby inside. An opening at the top of the "tummy" would allow the baby to be magically birthed without contractions or any bodily fluids — which, admittedly, is an idea I'm not opposed to IRL. It does, however, send some confusing messages to kids about pregnancy and childbirth.
5. Splash Off Water Rockets
Sure, launching a rocket in your backyard was an appealing prospect. What kid didn't dream of being an astronaut at some point in their formative years? Of course, that dream didn't include severe lacerations to the hand and face — at least 37 cases of which were documented due to this '90s toy exploding from too much water pressure and sending projectiles flying in all directions. The toy was recalled as a result.
6. Spin Fighters
These dazzling little die-cast metal tops were only available for around six years in the '90s — and for good reason. The decal adorned tops themselves were relatively safe. But what good were the tops without a launcher? Enter, trouble: With the the push of a switch, the launcher would send the top hurtling into the arena. Only, if you wound your top too tight, it would pop out of the launcher like a frickin' bullet, ready to ricochet off anything in its path — and if you happened to miss the arena? Well, you do the math.
7. Magic Potty Baby
While I concede that playing with a doll that would "go" on the potty could be useful for the potty training set, this doll was really marketed more for girls in the 6 to 9 demographic who'd long since achieved potty mastery. To be honest, Magic Potty Baby would gross me out no matter who was the target of its marketing, but maybe I missed the whole "urinating is magical" memo. I am still marginally curious over what comprised that perpetually sunny fluid that filled the tank before being flushed, though.
8. Shape Shifter Punisher
Well, this was awkward. While transformer toys were indubitably cool back in the day, manufacturer Toy Biz managed to create one which looked less like a superhero and more like a Morning Wood Ken doll (which I definitely just made up, but, I mean, seriously). While the doll would morph into a handgun, the, ahem, big issue occurred mid-transformation due to the seriously unfortunate placement of Punisher's, erm, power pistol. Excuse me while I blush.
Images: Mike Mozart/Flickr