5 toys from the past the never lived up to the hype

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Saturday morning cartoons in your PJ's. After school TV with graham crackers. Speed Racer, Land of the Lost, Yogi Bear and the whole Hanna Barbera universe, Scooby Doo, The Flinstones1 and the commercials.

The commercials that enticed young minds and convinced them that they must have that toy, game, cereal or candy. That their life wouldn't be complete without it. The advertisers knew their audience2 and their audience wanted to buy what they were selling.

The commercials always made the product look like the coolest and most fun thing ever! Sadly, the reality very seldom lived up to the hype. While not always true, but more often then not it was, especially when it came to toys. Either they didn't work as advertised or they were only fun once and then were destined for the bottom of the toy box.

I am sure we all have that toy that thoroughly disappointed us. These are mine.

 The Top Five Toys That Failed to Live Up To The Hype

1.)  The Slinky

Is there any toy that defines BORING as much as a Slinky? The only reason this toy continues to sell is the Boomer/Gen X memories of the jingle that is indelibly etched into our consciousness. Also, the plastic Slinky that came out in the eighties? That thing was even worse. The Slinky Dog? While he is a cool character in the Toy Story films, that toy is just as boring as a regular Slinky. Maybe more so since it doesn't go down stairs like a real Slinky.

2.)  Stretch Armstrong

You know the Tootsie Pop commercial, 'How many licks does it take...'? This could also apply to Stretch Armstrong. How long until you cut the arms off Stretch Armstrong to see whats inside? My guess? Usually one day.

Like the Slinky, Stretch Armstrong had a very limited play value. Really, is stretching a doll playing or is it just preparing a child for a future career in S & M. Perhaps the Spanish Inquisition will make a return. Having Stretch Armstrong come with a rack might actually be a good idea.

3.) The Easy Bake Oven

The Easy Bake Oven. Ostensibly a "girl toy", but we all wanted one. The idea of being able to make your cakes whenever you wanted was irresistible. Marketed as a "kid-safe" toy never stopped a million burned fingers by touching a hot pan or a very hot 60 watt bulb.

By the way, did anyone get a fully cooked cake or brownie out of a Easy Bake Oven? Cooking by light bulb is slow, so childhood impatience frequently got in the way of common sense. I had one friend who just mixed up the cake ingredients and ate them uncooked. Maybe she had the right idea.

4.)  Shrinky Dinks

Besides a having a hysterical double entendre as a name, is there any more goofy toy in the world? What's fun about cutting out shapes of plastic and shrinking them in the oven? Did anyone ever have fun with this toy? Maybe it has remained on the market so long because it's fun to say "Mom? I want to play with my Shrinky Dinks!"

5.) Mousetrap

The lovely closeups of the Rube Goldbergian Mousetrap game made it look like the COOLEST THING EVER, but really, was there ever a more pointless game ever made? Half the time the damn thing didn't even work.

I don't ever recall actually playing the game. By the time you got it all set up you were ready to play something else. Most the time there were pieces missing. So you put the mouse under the trap, let the stainless steel ball go and watched it, hopefully, catch the mouse.

Do you have any memories of childhood toys that didn't live up to your expectations? Feel free to share them with us.
1 - And so many many more. I still love watching the Pink Panther toons, the Ant and The Aardvark in particular.
2 - Madison Avenue is still on top of it's game. I was watching SpongeBob with one of my nieces the other day and every toy commercial elicited a plaintive whine of "Can you get that for me?"
This is blog post 127 for 2010. Only 14 more to go to meet last years output.


  1. Diane6:06 PM

    Disappointing toys from my childhood:

    1. Dream Date. Whose idea was this? And how was it that those of us with "good personalities" never did get the Troy Donohue look-alike as our dream date? And if anyone reading this remembers who Troy Donohue is...well, that is surprising!

    2. Operation. I know this was on Madpoet's short list of worst toys so I'm cheating..but how fun is it to either gloat and punch your friend for getting the darn funny bone out, or getting punched because you didn't? Do you think they could make a toy today that was a candidate for electric shock?

    3. Baby wets a lot. I know, I'm a girl, but what chauvinist made up a toy based on training us to change a diaper? Bastards!

  2. 4) Shrinky Dinks were fun, especially when you also had a Shrink Machine Pic

    This was before printers could print really small.

    5) Mousetrap is way fun. I'll bring it over next week


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