Login or Register

Sign in with Facebook

Remember that toy that you just had to have because it was based on something wildly popular? And then it turned out to really, really suck? (We're looking at you, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Pizza Power Game.) It turns out that's been happening as long as companies have been mass-producing toys.

Swing Wing


The Era:

Once called "The Decade of Bad Ideas," by this website, just now, the period between 1960 and 1969 is one of the only periods in American history that can be successfully used as an excuse for seemingly inexcusable behavior. Someone can talk about all of the drugs they abused, all of the dangerous, anonymous sex they had, all of the crimes they committed, all of the time they wasted protesting about how they'd rather be higher, and just as you're about to condemn them, they say, "Well, ya know ... it was the '60s," and suddenly the situation is defused. Being alive during the '60s is your "Get Out of Dumb Shit Free" card.

"Don't blame us. We didn't even know we were there."

Unless you design toys.

The Ridiculous Toy:

In 1965, a toy designer at Transogram Games looked at the success of Hula Hoops, with their elegantly simple design and relative safety, and thought, "Hey, yeah, that. But for your head!"

"Or your tits! We aren't judging."

The Swing Wing was a blue plastic beanie with red, white and blue plastic streamers coming out of the top, and a chinstrap. The idea was that the wearer moved his head and neck in rapid circles to make the streamers fly around, and ... well, that was pretty much it.

All the fun of propeller hats with 10 times the effort!

Even a TV commercial with a catchy jingle and a clapping chimpanzee couldn't make the Swing Wing look like fun. Check out the :14 mark, where a boy attempts to walk while Swing Winging, making him look like he's suffering from some kind of neurological disorder:

It's not mentioned in the commercial, but this toy is also really good at making sure no one wants to sit with you at lunch, or ever again for the rest of your life. Loneliness has never been this fun!

Earthquake Tower Playset


The Era:

Going to the movies in the 1970s left you afraid to leave your house. Cruise ships flipped upside down (The Poseidon Adventure, 1972), small planes hit bigger ones (Airport 1975, 1974), the Goodyear blimp crashed into a Super Bowl stadium (Black Sunday, 1977) and skyscrapers exploded into flames (The Towering Inferno, 1974). No one was safe.

Not even Charlton Heston.

The Ridiculous Toy:

In 1976, Remco realized that kids don't want to play with toys that help them escape reality; they want toys that remind them how terrible reality is. Featuring over 5 feet of cardboard skyscraper goodness, the Earthquake Tower Playset also came with three cars, a fire truck, a rescue vehicle and a helicopter, along with 24 firemen, policemen, assorted rescue personnel and innocent civilians about to meet an untimely death.

"Your home could collapse at any minute! Enjoy your play time."

To play, the unsuspecting apartment dwellers were placed on either side of the tower, and then the kid got to play God: With the push of a button, the tower rocked back and forth, flinging helpless men and women to their doom. If he were feeling benevolent, the kid could use the moveable elevators to rescue some of them. The print ad instructs, "Save as many people as you can," not "Save all the people," because it's important to remind children that you can't save everyone, and people die all the time, because life is arbitrary and ultimately meaningless.

"Hahaha! Man, look at those poor bastards die!"

As a special bonus, the set came with a record of dramatic music and explosions, sirens and helicopter sound effects, just to make it all seem that much more real (listen here). As the catalog description says, "Turn a real disaster into hours of imaginative, exciting play!" "You won't be able to process how disturbing this is for years and years," it neglected to add.

Continue Reading Below

Disco Playset/Live Action Ken on Stage


The Era:

In 1975, people with no rhythm flocked to 10,000 clubs across the U.S. to do what passed for dancing in those days, get laid and do a variety of drugs.

They called it disco.

It was mostly pointing at things with your lips puckered.

The Ridiculous Toy:


Cocaine not included. But there is a dealer's number written on the box.

With the Disco Playset, Barbie could hang out with a guy who positively embodied "male '70s pornography enthusiast" and then hit the dance floor (featuring colored, blinking lights!). The set also came with a built-in AM radio so Barbie could groove to whatever was at the top of the charts. Which, in 1976, was, according to our research, "Some Shrieking Piece of Shit," by ABBA probably.

But that's not all! If a girl had kept a certain Ken doll from 1970, she could have live entertainment at the disco play set!

Notice Ken turning his head in shame.

Live Action Ken on Stage featured Ken in his disco finery. The stage was motorized, so Ken could "dance" as he sang, and it came with a record. One side was an instrumental, and the other featured Ken singing "A Little Bit of That Sky" (listen here!), which would've made Barbie throw her panties at him, had she been wearing any, the tramp.

"This one goes out to all you whores in the audience."

Sunshine Family/Hippie Dolls

The Era:

Of course, the 1970s weren't all about satin hot pants. If you weren't at the disco, you might've been wearing flowers in your long, unwashed hair and protesting the Vietnam War. What toys were you supposed to play with?

The Ridiculous Toy:

How about nightmares!

Stephie, Steve and Baby Sweets. We're not making that up.

AAAAHHHH! Look at that guy! Look at his turtleneck, look at his fucking eyes! See the way that his baby hovers freely, powered by your thoughts. Do not look away.

If you're the kind of person who isn't already terrified by these dolls, you'll be happy to know that there are a lot of different play sets and accessories available, you lunatic. Check out this super fun craft store play set that came with a pottery wheel. A pottery wheel!

The spinning wheel really spins! And the parents really smoke weed in the back room!

And forget the Barbie convertible -- the Sunshine Family cruised around in a pickup truck with a piggyback shack. Because, you know, little girls are all about playing with a doll in a peasant dress selling hand-thrown pots by the side of the road.

"If no one buys our pots, how will we feed our psychic night-baby?"

Another hippie-inspired doll was Lil' Winking Herby Hippy. According to the box, Herby is real cool, and if you squeeze his tummy, he winks, so we guess the coolness checks out.

"Fully jointed"? He is a hippie!

Finally, there were the Happy Hippie Dolls. These 2 1/2-inch dolls had freakishly large heads and tiny, tiny bodies, just like real hippies. If you were lucky, you'd get one that was made with Charles Manson's actual pubic hair, like, we imagine, this one.

"Touch me on my face, please. I SAID FUCKING TOUCH IT!"

Continue Reading Below

CB McHaul


The Era:

To complete the 1970s insanity, long-distance trucking became a thing. "Convoy," a song about a devil-may-care trucker, became a hit. Smokey and the Bandit and BJ and the Bear, two TV shows about truckers, roared into popularity, and all of America was buying CB radios and learning trucker slang.

"Mommy, what does 'lot lizard' mean?"

The Ridiculous Toy:

In 1977, toymaker Mego produced a line of trucking toys called CB McHaul. The line came with two big rigs (the CB McHaul Big Rig and the Bear Masher), a police car, policemen figures and "good" or "bad" truckers. There was also a truck stop play set.

The inventory is an even split between pep pills and crack pipes.

Let's take a closer look at some of these truckers: Here are "Good trucker" Jim Oakes, aka "The Texas Truck Puncher," which implies a back story we would absolutely KILL to hear, and CB McHaul, aka "The Daringest Dude on the Highway," which he demonstrated by going shirtless under a leather vest.

You don't want to know what he wears when he's behind the wheel.

On the "bad truckers" side, we have Joe Marconi and Bad Leroy, two bald, post-apocalyptic mutants, apparently, and Professor Braine, the "Mad Mastermind," although if he were a professor, you'd think he'd be teaching, or working in a lab, or just not trucking. And if he's such a "Mastermind," shouldn't he be able to find a hat that fits his head?

"I'm Bad Leroy!" "And I'M constantly masturbating."

Oh, right. All the figures were packaged to look like they were masturbating:

If you look closely at the print, you'll see that Bad Leroy's nickname is "The One Eyed Wonder."

Juden Raus! (Jew Out!)


The Era:

1930s Germany. If you need some context as to what the "vibe" of 1930s Germany was, please stop reading this site and go pick up a history book. Skip to the part about the Nazis. That's where we are.

The Ridiculous Toy:

Enter the most notorious of the board games, Juden Raus! (Jew Out!).

Ironically, this is how we picture Klan members when they take off their hoods.

The game was published by a German company named Gunther & Company, Dresden, probably in an attempt to please Hitler and absolutely no one else. The rules are pretty simple. The players roll the dice and move the Jews out of their homes and to Palestine, because this is a very bad board game.

There is no html tag to stress that sentence enough.

A Jew figure is awarded to every player who reaches a Jewish storefront, and the first player to collect and subsequently get six Jews off the board is the winner! If you want to purchase a copy of the game because you want a wacky conversation starter to put on your coffee table, because you're horrible, tough luck: Only two known copies of the game still exist today, one in the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and one in the Institute of Contemporary History and Wiener Library in London.

This is the Internet. So we'd guess two weeks at most before someone builds a replica.

If your game ends up in a museum as a testament to how terrible a certain time period was, that's a pretty bad sign. You might as well have called it "Racism: The Board Game."

Continue Reading Below

Racism: The Board Game (AKA Blacks & Whites)



The Era:

The 1970s was a time when the civil rights movement was still going on. Black Americans were trying to gain equality in society with their white counterparts (but so was every minority). A lot of people were pushing for social equality, tolerance and understanding of their fellow man, so ...

The Ridiculous Toy:

Psychology Today released this board game to spread tolerance, and so the dominant white race could understand what it was like to be black. Sounds fun and not racist in any way to us!

Alternate name: Afros and Comb-Overs.

Just look at the cover to the game itself. The white man is dressed in fine clothes and is clearly upper-class, whereas the black man looks like he can't even afford a shirt. The game was pretty much Monopoly, but way more racist. Let's check out the rules:

"Whites started out with $1 million, blacks with $10,000 and each race had different opportunity decks. While whites could buy property in any part of the board, blacks were limited to certain areas until they had accumulated at least $100,000 and were outright banned from property in the 'suburban zone.'"

And they had five times as many "Go Directly to Jail" cards.

The game was intended to show how unfair life was for the minority races living in America at the time by letting the players experience it without having to actually live it. The irony is that everyone probably still hated each other after the game because, at the end of the day, everyone always hates everyone else by the time a game of Monopoly is done.

The game was probably well meaning, but "well meaning" and "successful at getting the point across without being totally racist" are very, very, very different things.

Yin-yang imagery be damned.


The Era:

In the 1960s, sex became a much less taboo subject. Everyone was having sex with everyone in new and exciting ways, which is why today scholars refer to the 1960s as "The Decade of Really Awesome Ideas."

The Ridiculous Toy:

Enter Adultery the board game, a game that completely epitomizes everything about the term "free love."

Now that's the look of a man who's about to put a clock in his ass.

The object of Adultery (the game) was to earn tokens worth two, three or five minutes. When everybody has three time tokens, players are paired up at random to go "use their time tokens" in some other part of the house. For example, you might be assigned three minutes, in the kitchen, with your sexually experimental neighbor, which sounds like an awful time, or like a game of Clue that went really off the rails. The game ends when everybody's had a chance to have sex with two different players.

We're all for the un-taboo-ification of sex (really anything that increases the likelihood that people will be more open to having sex with us), but this game may be taking it too far.

And by "may be" we mean "is without question."

It strangely combines all of the fun of swinging and sexual promiscuity with the public shame of having to go to a store and physically purchase this game in front of people, so they'll all know exactly what you're up to. One of the best things about an orgy is that you don't have to go to Target and announce via your purchases "Yes, I am about to go home and have sex with between three and six of my personal friends."

"We all smell like Edward's balls. We win!"

Continue Reading Below

Earring Magic Ken


The Era:

The '90s were so naive. It was one of the first truly self-conscious decades, a 10-year span that was all about looking at the past (the tacky, horrible '80s) and coolly laughing while distancing themselves from their predecessors wherever they could. "The '80s were so embarrassing," the '90s said. "We'll never be that lame. We're cool. We're new. We're updated."

The Ridiculous Toy:

Speaking of updates, let's meet the brand new Ken (of "Barbie" fame).

Warning: There's magic in there.

According to the makers of Barbie, Ken "mirrors what was 'in' at the moment," from "MTV to hip activism." Little girls apparently "wanted Ken to look a 'little cooler.'" And we get that, we just don't understand why the toy designers made him look like the horrible baby of Jersey Shore and Twilight.

"Come on, guys, kids don't want Ken to be a guy they can marry; they want someone they can rave with, I think, though I've never personally met a child before." We like to imagine someone said this at one point in the meeting that resulted in Ken getting earrings, a purple mesh shirt and a hoop necklace.

Just out for a night on the town with a ... "special friend."

Earring Ken actually sold quite well, but probably not for the reason that the makers of the doll originally intended. According to ManBehindTheDoll.com, "By Christmas time in 1993 most stores were completely sold out of Kens, largely due to the gay community's interest."

Huh. We don't see it.

Nuclear Toys


The Era:

The '50s and '60s were a big time for nuclear power. America had dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan, and the Russians soon got a hold of it as well. It was the future of all technology everywhere!

The Ridiculous Toy:

Toy manufacturers evidently thought kids really wanted to play with mini atomic power plants -- three different companies made them. They looked ... well, we don't want to say fun, exactly ...

"Merry Christmas. Here's a bunch of metal shit."

They looked like work. Or a school project of some kind. It's the kind of toy you play with if you hate your imagination.

Oh, wait, steam comes out of it? Well, why didn't you say so?

They also sold nuclear engines, because no nuclear power play set is complete without holy shit these toys are boring.

We guess they can double as a dehumidifier?

They even made nuclear cars!

That ... sure is ... nuclear? We guess?

Enough! How many freaking nuclear toys do we have to sift through before we find an atom bomb, literally the only nuclear thing a child might actually want?

The package doesn't even address the most important question: Can we ride it?

Oh, fucking finally ... wait ... "Safe, harmless giant atomic bomb?" You don't really get nuclear power, do you, toy companies?

For more of T.D. Woodward, check him out at lordnasebyblog.blogspot.com.

For more mind-blowing images of toys and advertisements, check out the all new Images You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped Gallery.

And stop by LinkSTORM to see which columnist has the best Skip-It score.

And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get sexy, sexy jokes sent straight to your news feed.

Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infograpic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!

To turn on reply notifications, click here


Load Comments