15 weird toys from the 70s and 80s that Generation X kids had to play with

Weird Toys Generation X Kids Had to Play With

Like every other Gen X kid who grew up in the 70s and 80s, we didn’t have Playstations or computers. Our toys were simple and extremely dangerous.  And we had to find creative ways to play with them. Who else remembers these 15 weird toys Generation X kids had to play with?

15 weird toys from the 70s and 80s that Generation X kids had to play with

In the 70s and 80s, kids didn't have electronics. Our toys were basic and dangerous. Who else remembers these weird toys Generation X kids had to play with? Click To Tweet
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Holly Hobby everything

When I was a kid, Holly Hobby was as popular as Barbie.

In the late 70s, Holly Hobby was as popular as Barbie. They had dolls, books, play tea sets, and even furniture

In the late 70s, Holly Hobby was as popular as Barbie. Now, this doll is considered a collectible!

 

They had Holly Hobby dolls, books, tea sets, and even furniture.

I remember having a Holly Hobby desk with a magnetic chalkboard.

I guess my mom wanted me to have something to coordinate with the 1970s farmhouse wallpaper we had in our kitchen.


Lite Brite

I grew up Jewish, so we didn’t celebrate Christmas in my house.  Maybe this is why I wanted a Lite Brite so badly!

Lite Brite reminded me of Christmas lights that you could enjoy all year round.

Lite Brite was a magical little toy except when you would lose the pegs.

Lite Brite reminded me of the Christmas lights I never got to have growing up in a Jewish household.

 

But this toy actually caused me a lot of frustration.

For one, it wasn’t all that fun. I could never seem to get the vision in my head to show up right on the screen.

And two, those pegs were always getting lost.

They would always end up in random places and you would ultimately find them only when stepping on them.

Ouch!


Plastic Dress Up Shoes

Before Frozen and Beauty and the Beast, there was Saturday Night Fever.

And since Disco was all the rage, my parents thought I would enjoy dressing up to have an all-nighter at Studio 54.

To be honest, they weren’t wrong. 

So for Hannukah one year, they bought me some amazing plastic silver glitter disco dress up shoes.

They were kind of like these.

Back in my day, we didn't have Disney Princesses on our dress up shoes. I had silver glitter disco dress up shoes.

Back in my day, we didn’t have Disney Princesses on our dress up shoes. We had Disco shoes!

 

But since this was the 70’s, there were no Disney princesses on them.

They were Disco. And painful.  And I hated them. Because feet. (I hate feet)

 


Clackers

Gen X toys from the 70s and 80s were basic. We could just entertain ourselves with things that made noise.

Who remembers playing with these obnoxious heavy balls tied to string?

Click Clacks provided minutes of entertainment until you hit yourself in the eye with them.

Is it a toy or a dangerous weapon to throw at your sibling?

 

Clackers (or click clacks) provided minutes of entertainment until you end up bonking yourself in the head.

I can only imagine the joy this must have brought to siblings!

Yet, I remember that they were oddly satisfying too.


Colorforms

Colorforms were these little sticky thingies that you could place on a shiny cardboard background and use over and over again to create your own stories.

The pieces were re-stickable but not actually stickers.  They just kind of stuck there by magic.

Who remembers Colorforms? They still make them. In fact, you can get this same exact Snoopy Colorforms Set we had as a kids on Amazon right now.

Who remembers Colorforms? They still make them. In fact, you can get this same exact Snoopy Colorforms Set we had as kids on Amazon right now.

 

I actually had the exact same Snoopy set shown in the picture above.

But it used to really bother me that Shroeder’s piano was blue and not yellow to match him.

In fact, it still bothers me to this day.


The Spirograph

This little gizmo allowed you to make spiral patterns with a pen and paper using interlocking plastic gears.

For fun, Gen X kids used to make an infinite number of circles using a Spirograph.

For fun, Gen X kids used to make an infinite number of circles using a Spirograph.

 

Who would have thought that drawing circles over and over would be fun?

Except the X shape gear would always get stuck and ruin everything.

I wasted so much time and paper with this toy.


Shrinky Dinks

Shrinky Dinks are black line drawings on clear plastic sheets that kids would cut out and color in.

Once you were done coloring them, you would bake them in the oven and they would actually shrink and get hard.

Shrinky Dinks were fun to make - until they were actually made.

Shrinky Dinks were fun to make – until they were actually made.

 

But we’re talking super tiny.  And what is more disappointing than a super tiny hard thing that you can’t even play with?

I used to just give them to my parents to use on their keychains. They really appreciated that.

 


Fashion Plates

Fashion Plates by Tomy were one of my favorite toys as a child.

They were mix and match plastic plates with different outfits.

You would place your sketch paper on the plates, pass the rubbing tool over it and transfer your design onto the paper.

Tomy Fashion plates made every kid feel like a fashion designer. You can find a more modern version on Amazon.

Tomy Fashion plates made every kid feel like a fashion designer. Click the photo to see the current version of this toy on Amazon.

 

When you were done, you would just color in your drawings and paste them all over the house.

It made every kid feel like a fashion designer.

And I know my mom LOVED having those pictures plastered on the refrigerator.


Rubiks Cube

What Gen X kid didn’t own one Rubiks Cube?

The object of this puzzle was to jumble up all the colors and try to put them back in order in a series of twists and turns.

Every kid had a rubiks cube in the 80s

Remember this little cube of frustration?

 

No matter how hard I tried, I was never able to get more than 1 or 2 sides back in order.

Eventually I would give up and just move the stickers and they would always end up skewed.

But I thought I had everyone fooled and my parents thought I was a genius.

Come on, you know you did this too!


Fisher Price Roller Skates

In the 70s and 80s, roller skating was huge. After watching Xanadu, I became obsessed.

I wanted to be a singing roller skating queen. Hell, I just wanted to be Olivia Newton John, but we’ll leave that for another topic.

But anyway, my first pair of skates were similar to these…

Fisher Price strap on skates were my first rollerskates

Such quality. Such beauty. These strap-on skates were a feat of engineering.

 

The Fisher Price skates were plastic roller skates that you could simply strap onto your shoes.

They were a lot of fun, until you hit a loose piece of gravel and face plant into the driveway.

Fortunately, it wasn’t much long after that I just got a pair of real roller skates.

They were blue with gold stripes and they were fabulous. And I felt fabulous in them…until I face planted in the driveway.


Gyro Wheel

When I was a kid, we moved into a new house and the previous occupants had left this strange contraption in a closet.

I had no clue what it was but when I figured out how to use it, I was fascinated.

This contraption is called a Gyro Wheel. It’s basically a magnetic wheel that spins on a metal rod over and over but never falls off.

The Gyro Wheel is this hypnotizing contraption that provides minutes of staring fun.

The Gyro Wheel is this weird contraption that provides minutes of staring fun.

 

With a flick of the wrist, you just watch it spin back and forth, over and over. I found it quite hypnotizing.

Plus you could also use it as a makeshift antenna when the TV went out.

Remember this was before cable, people.

 


Water Ring Toss

Before Nintendo Game Boy, this was one of the first handheld weird Generation X toys kids had to play with.

It’s called a Water Ring Toss and it was not fun.

The object of the game is to get these tiny plastic rings hooked on to a tiny plastic stick.

Want to permanently scar your child? Get them this water ring toss toy.

Want to permanently scar your child? Get them this water ring toss toy.

 

To do this, you would push buttons which created a burst of air in the water and hope that they make it.

This toy brought me nothing but frustration.

I think that was the most fun I had with this this game was draining the water and watching the rings sink to the bottom before throwing it away.

Seriously, f**k this toy!


Etch A Sketch

Before hand held video games, the only screen Gen X kids had besides the TV, was the infamous Etch A Sketch.

The Etch A Sketch was this screen where you could create pictures with magnetic dust that you directed using two knobs.

One knob was for up and down and the other was for left and right. Then to erase, you just shake the screen.

The only screen Gen X kids had besides the TV, was the Etch A Sketch.

The only screen Gen X kids had besides the TV, was the Etch A Sketch.

 

But this was problematic for a few reasons.

First off you could only make squares.

There was no option to make circles or even diagonals.

Second, all the lines had to touch, so everything you drew was connected.

Third, if you screw up, you had to start all over.

Parents must have all thought we would love it, since everyone I knew had one. But I don’t know of any kid who ever did.


Viewmaster Viewer

Before virtual reality, Generation X kids had the Viewmaster Viewer, which was basically a personal 3D slide show.

The Viewmaster Viewer was like a pair of plastic binoculars in which you insert a disc of pictures that appeared in 3D when you looked into it.

Before Virtual Reality, there was the View Master Viewer. I wanted to live in mine forever.

Before Virtual Reality, there was the View Master Viewer. I wanted to live in mine forever.

 

This was one of my most cherished toys as a kid.

It allowed me a way to escape the everyday and enter a magical virtual world where Snoopy fought the Red Baron right in front of my very eyes.

I just wanted to live inside my Viewmaster Viewer permanently.

 


Pac-Man

If you were a Gen X kid, you were around to see the rise of the video game boom.

There was nothing like the thrill of stepping into an arcade.

The lights, the sounds, and even the smell of the carpet was pure heaven.

We were the first generation who discovered the joy of controlling little electronic pixels that you could shoot or eat for the mere cost of a quarter.

So when I got my very own hand held Pac-Man game, I knew that I had truly made it.

Owning a Mini-Pac-Man meant that you made it in life. It was a piece of heaven in your hands.

Owning a Mini-Pac-Man meant that you made it in life. It was a piece of heaven in your hands.

 

Pac-Man was basically this little circle that you had to maneuver around a maze and eat dots while avoiding ghosts on your tale.

When you eat a big dot, the ghosts would all turn blue and you would chase and eat them too.

And even though I had a Pac-Man game of my very own, I still loved the arcades.

Because that was the best place to meet cute boys, of course!


In Conclusion…

Compared to today, Generation X games could be considered boring.

Today, most kids won’t get to enjoy inhaling the flammable, toxic fumes from blowing Super Elastic Plastic Bubbles through a straw.

These highly flammable and toxic elastic plastic balloons are still sold today. Relive the memories with your own children!

Bloonies elastic plastic bubbles can allow you to relive the exhilaration of inhaling flammable fumes with your own kids. Create new memories today!

 

But while parents today don’t really have to worry about their kids choking from a Yo-Ball string, the weird toys Generation X kids had to play with forced allowed us to use our imaginations.


Look, obviously this is not an all-inclusive list. I’m old and can barely remember what I had for breakfast. These are just some of the toys I can still remember – and a few I would like to forget.


Do you think your kids would enjoy these weird toys Generation X kids had to play with today? What were your favorite toys growing up? Leave me a comment and let me know!

13 Comments

  • Joe January 20, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Very Cool Loved looking at old toys Joe

    Reply
  • Neha January 20, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Such an amazing collection you have got here dear! I loved colorforms so much, didn’t know they are still available at Amazon!

    Reply
    • Melanie Frost January 21, 2019 at 6:21 pm

      I’m shocked at how many of these are still sold today too. It’s crazy!

      Reply
  • crisshex88 January 21, 2019 at 2:17 am

    How many balls did I create with the B’loonies? My mother, who you remember was very funny! Water Ring Toss I think it was one of my favorite games, looking at it today seems stupid and not fun, I remember that it drove me crazy and I still would! Fisher Price Roller Skates I learned to go with the skates that I have never learned well, but at least I had the satisfaction of having them! xD Rubiks Cube I bought it as an adult and I still did not finish it once! Fashion Plates had a friend of mine and when I went to her house I did not play anything else! Clackers I discovered them as adults and I still have them at home, I break my wrists every time xD

    Reply
    • Melanie Frost January 21, 2019 at 6:21 pm

      You still have your clackers?! That’s awesome!

      Reply
  • Alexandra @ It's Not Complicated Recipes January 21, 2019 at 4:58 am

    Oh this post brings back such wonderful memories – I was a child of the 80’s, so I loved my Etch a Sketch!! ?

    Reply
    • Melanie Frost January 21, 2019 at 6:20 pm

      You did? Well, we didn’t have alot of options back then so we didn’t know any better. That toy always frustrated me because the lines all had to connect. Lol!

      Reply
  • Kristen Frolich January 21, 2019 at 5:15 am

    I loved the Spirograph. My in-laws actually just got one for my 4 year old and he is now in love with it. He thinks its the best thing in the world. Gotta love it!

    Reply
    • Melanie Frost January 21, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      That’s awesome that your son enjoys it as much as we did back in the day.

      Reply
  • Johnny Rourke January 21, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Why wouldn’t the Charlie Brown be on the YELLOW colorform….the Linus be on the RED, and Lucy on the BLUE???
    WTF?!?!?!

    Reply
    • Melanie Frost January 21, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      Haha! I know. And their accessories don’t even match. I never understood that.

      Reply
  • blair villanueva January 21, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Rubiks Cube is legendary and still alive! I love it and until now, I can’t perfect it.

    Reply
  • playinspiredmum January 22, 2019 at 7:18 am

    Oh you have just bought back so many fond childhood memories! I was very lucky to have had a lot of those toys growing up! They were awesome! They just don’t make toys like they used too!

    Reply

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