There's a famous quote that says "magic's just science that we don't understand yet" and all of these toys are proof of that. As kids these things all seemed like they had to be powered by magic, even though it was mostly just science. Man, I wish life were still that simple.
Here are 18 toys that totally blew our minds back then.
1. Liquid Timer
It was basically just a fancy hourglass, but it was way more fun than just watching a sand one. Tell me that you wouldn't spend just hours watching this if you had the chance.
2. Plasma Ball
It was hard not to feel like some kind of sorcerer whenever you touched one of these.
3. Diving Sub
It started as a cereal box toy, but basically if you filled it with baking powder, it would make bubbles that would let it float up to the surface before sinking back down again. That's a way cooler bath toy than some rubber duck.
4. Pet Tornado
Basically if you shook it hard enough, a little tornado would form and you could imagine all the destruction your little tornado friend would cause. Or, if you were like me and had parents that didn't want to waste money on a toy that would just make water funnels, you had to make do with the DIY soda bottle version.
"Sea-Monkeys" is definitely a more exciting name than "brine shrimp." We'd always get bored of these pretty quickly, but the idea of "instant life" was pretty cool (even if it was totally inaccurate).
6. Astronaut Ice Cream
The only thing cooler than ice cream is space ice cream. Too bad this stuff is not only total B.S. (astronauts don't actually eat this stuff), but it also tastes like garbage. Unless you actually enjoy eating glorified chalk, then I guess you do you.
7. Balancing Bird
Something that literally just sat there probably shouldn't have been nearly as entertaining as this was, but here we are. We just had to try and balance it on every possible surface we could. You know, for science.
8. Soda Bottle Rocket
Whether you used the baking soda/vinegar method, the water/bike pump method, or some other version, there's no denying that finding ways to launch a plastic bottle as far as possible was as fun as it was awesome.
9. Star Projector
Because who wouldn't want to fall asleep staring up at the stars? I wanted one of these so bad as a kid, but I had to make do with those glow in the dark stars you could stick to your ceiling.
I'm still not convinced that this next toy isn't actually some kind of black magic sorcery...
10. Hand Boilers
Not only would holding one end of these send the liquid through what was basically a glass crazy-straw, but it would also make it bubble like it was boiling. If that's not sorcery, I don't know what is.
11. Ant Farms
Sure, having ants in the house probably wasn't the best idea, but you don't get too see all those cool tunnels when they're outside.
12. Magnetic Gyro Wheels
Forget fidget spinners, these were the best toys to mindlessly play with. I can still hear the sound it made while it was spinning around.
Don't even pretend like you didn't spend hours staring into one of these while twisting the end over and over. Sure, we were usually just staring at colorful beads, but how can you not be totally mesmerized looking at something like this?
14. Drinking Birds
Honestly, these are pretty useless, but at least they're fun to watch!
They weren't quite as exciting as the magnetic wheel version, but it was still so cool to watch them spin and basically defy gravity.
16. Newton's Cradle
As fun as it was to watch them just swing back and forth over and over, it was hard to resist the temptation to just slam them together as hard as you could.
17. Van de Graaff Generators
Ok so these aren't so much toys, really, but guaranteed you had at least one field trip or presentation where you got to try one out. Seeing someone's hair sticking out all over the place will never not be funny.
18. Pin Art Boards
Overall these were kind of pointless (pun totally intended), but there was something just so cool about seeing the shapes you could make on it. Plus, it was impossible not to love the feeling of just shoving your face into it.