As the holiday season is often a time of reflection and gift-giving or -receiving, we’ve decided it’s the absolute best moment to discuss the truly unhinged toys of our youth that we once adored and probably terrorized our loved ones in order to get.
Who among us can forget begging for that toy you saw on TV, only to have a parent or guardian tell us, “absolutely not”? The devastation. The betrayal. The inability to see that the item in question was astronomically expensive and, most obviously, utter crap. While some of our loved ones did acquiesce to our oft-outrageous requests for brief happiness (thanks for that Furby I played with for one single week, mom and dad!!!), there were plenty of toys that got away, so to speak.
A few of our millennial staffers have weighed in to look back on that chaotic toy from the ‘80s or ‘90s that sent us into respective tailspins, whether we owned them or simply pined for them from afar:
There aren’t enough ways to describe the desperation with which I wanted the Cabbage Patch doll that had a mechanism in it to allow it to “eat” food. The doll, which looked like the typical bloated Cabbage Patch Kid on the outside, came with plastic food and had the ability to “chew.” By chew, I mean that the doll had an electronic component that made its mouth move up and down. The premise of it was that you could shove the plastic food into the mechanical mouth, it would “chew,” and the food would go into the doll and then reemerge in the doll’s backpack so you can continue to feed it until the end of time. How delightfully bizarre! I needed her!!!
And yet, my parents — specifically my dad — were adamant that I never get one. I suppose it ended up being a good thing that I was deprived of endlessly feeding a doll because Mattel Inc. ended up pulling the doll off the market after dozens of parents complained that the doll chomped on their children’s “hair and fingers.” Yikes. — Jenna Amatulli
While I had plenty of dolls and cute little electronic journals that were Very Cool in the late 90s and early 00s, I was never a huge toy kid. But I did watch a lot of television and watched countless commercials of kids playing with toys. One toy, in particular, has stood out in terms of its appeal and its accompanying jingle: Baby Born. I wanted a Baby Born so badly, and while I received something very close to one, I do not believe it was the true blue Baby Born that cried and pissed and such. Maybe it was the Baby Born Baby BORRRRRRN jingle that ultimately drew me in, but now I cannot believe I wanted a doll that was so... lifelike. To this day, I do not know how you get the water inside that thing, and I’m fine not knowing. Let it remain a childhood mystery. — Ashley Reese
There is a toy that still elicits tones of pure dread in my parents’ home: the Fisher Price Discovery Cottage. You can still find several vintage versions online. I think it was a precursor to the current Little People line (parents know exactly what I’m talking about and probably stepped on one of them this morning). I vividly remember this toy, despite the fact I must have been 2 or 3 during its heyday.
It had a slide and a doorway and a little bell that rang. It was maybe supposed to be a school? And apparently, it routinely frustrated me to the point of tearful meltdowns. Bring up the Discovery Cottage in the presence of my parents and they will simultaneously, instinctively recoil with remembered torture. “Oh God, not the Discovery Cottage,” they will both groan. I have no idea what even made me so mad! But apparently, it was my nemesis. — Kelly Faircloth
Of all the many things I wanted as a child and eventually received, my most prized possession was my Popple. For the children reading this with no memory of this toy, a Popple was a stuffed animal that also sort of served as a pouch; like those anoraks you can buy at the outdoor gear shop, you could stuff the Popple back into its pouch so that only its head was visible, transforming a child’s toy into a ball. If memory serves, I enjoyed the Popple in ball formation mostly, as it was the perfect object to throw at my younger sister, or to toss off the top bunk of the bunk bed. Surely my Popple, who was purple, had a name, but the sands of time have erased many of my childhood memories.
Unfortunately, I no longer have the Popple, as I do many of my other bedraggled childhood toys, because I believe I left it at either a dentist’s office or the Ground Round in Poughkeepsie, and never got it back. A tragic loss for me, but I hope whoever picked up my small friend is happy now. — Megan Reynolds