#5. Juden Raus! (Jew Out!)
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."
#4. Racism: The Board Game (AKA Blacks & Whites)
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.
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!"
#2. Earring Magic Ken
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.
#1. Nuclear Toys
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.
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