Life | Toys | Fads

The 20 Biggest Toy Fads From Our Childhoods

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No matter when you were a kid, there were certain toys that everyone was obsessed with having. Sometimes these fads lasted just a few months, but sometimes their popularity endured. How many of these toys were you obsessed with growing up?

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1) Slinky

While they first exploded in popularity in the '50s, they never went away. These were way more fun than a coil of metal or plastic had any business being. While it worked the best if you made it go down stairs, the possibilities were pretty much endless. Tables, book shelves, your own hands, pretty much anything could be used as a surface to send a slinky rocketing to the floor. But the worst thing was when it would get all tangled up. You'd spend forever trying to fix it, but even if you untangled it, it would never really work the same again.

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2) Sea-Monkeys

Another weird product of the 1950s, sea-monkeys are basically very tiny shrimp. They largely became popular thanks to the ads for their kits appearing in comic books throughout the '60s and '70s. If you were an irresponsible kid that your parents couldn't trust to look after a real pet, Sea-Monkeys were the perfect alternative. They had a short life span (around 3-6 months) and are very low maintenance. While they're certainly not as popular as they were 40 years ago, Sea-Monkey kits are still easy to find in most toy stores.

3) Trolls

While they first became popular in the 1960s, Troll dolls seem to have a return to popularity at least briefly in just about every decade. The look of the Troll toys was largely unchanged up until last year when Dreamworks gave them a (honestly unnecessary) reboot complete with a movie. Guaranteed most of us at one point or another decided to play hair stylist and gave ridiculous hair cuts to our trolls.

4) Ouija Boards

While the idea of spirit or talking boards have been around for centuries, but in the '60s the board game company Parker Brothers bought the rights to the "Ouija" board from the Ouija Novelty Company. Their popularity really took off for a time in the '70s, thanks to a little movie called The Exorcist.

5) Pet Rocks

It's definitely no surprise that the Pet Rock started as a joke. It's "inventor" Gary Dahl came up with the idea after hearing his friends complain about how much work it was to own their pets, which led him to think that a rock would make the perfect pet since it needed no care or maintenance. What is surprising was how big it blew up for 6 months in 1975, though its popularity faded along with the end of the Christmas shopping season. The Pet Rock came with a jokey "care manual" and a cardboard carrying case complete with air holes. Needless to say, the '70s were a weird time.

6) Mood Rings

Mood rings first became popular in the 1970s, but as with a lot of '70s trends they ended up making a comeback in the 1990s. While they supposedly told you what your mood was based on it's color, what it was actually telling you was the temperature of your finger. No matter what I tried my mood rings just always stayed blue, which according to the chart below isn't necessarily a bad thing, I guess.

7) Rubik's Cube

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For a few years in the early '80s, Rubik's Cubes were the toys that everyone had to have. What kicked off its popularity was a string of best toy and game of the year awards in the US, France, Germany, and the UK. The craze died down by 1983, but there was a revival in the early 2000s, and they've stuck around ever since. Thanks to the patent expiring, there have been all sorts of crazy versions coming out over the last decade, and the popularity of "speed cubing" has also grown.

8)Teddy Ruxpin

Teddy Ruxpin was all the rage starting in the mid '80s. Teddy was an animatronic bear that would "read" stories off a cassette that you would load into a deck on its back. But of course we wouldn't actually use the story cassettes, instead we would make Teddy sing along to Ozzy Osbourne and Def Leppard, because why wouldn't we. They recently rebooted Teddy Ruxpin, only this time around he's legitimately a little terrifying.

9) Cabbage Patch Kids

If there was one toy fad that defined the 1980s, it was definitely Cabbage Patch Kids. Over the Christmas seasons, parents desperately trying to get the dolls for their kids' Christmas presents were getting into legit brawls over what little stock remained. While they aren't absolute must-haves like they were in the '80s, they're still easily available though they seem to be more geared towards adult collectors than kids.

10) Garbage Pail Kids

What started out as a simple parody of the insanely popular Cabbage Patch Kids quickly took on a life of its own, spawning not only the card series, but also a movie and a TV series. Topps, the trading card company, started releasing the collectible cards in 1985, and they were basically memes for the '80s generation.  Considering how weird and gross a lot of these cards were, it's a little surprising that our parents even let us collect them in the first place. Then again, it was a different time, and it's sort of a miracle any of us even survived our childhoods.

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