Forgotten Fads - pressofAtlanticCity.com: Holiday Marketplace

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Forgotten Fads

Hugely popular in their day, some toys have faded into oblivion

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Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 9:38 am | Updated: 9:58 am, Wed Nov 23, 2011.

Remember the toys you just absolutely, positively just had to have for Christmas? Like the Daisy Red Ryder BB gun that young that Ralpie Parker yearned for in the 1981 movie A Christmas Story?

There are toys like that every Christmas, and there have been at least since the invention of mass marketing. Some of those toys, like the Slinky, Rubik's Cube, and the Etch a Sketch, withstood the test of time and are still popular decades after they were introduced.

The Red Ryder in fact is still being produced more than 70 years after its debut and specimens from the 1950s and ‘60s are highly collectible. But that's an exception. John Clark, an antiques dealer at Days of Olde Antiques Center in Galloway Township says most toys from the Baby Boom era have little value today.

"Most Baby Boomers are likely to be getting rid of things these days than collecting them," Clark say.

While some "must have" toys from yesteryear still exist today, most can only by found at flea markets, musty attics and childhood memories. Here's a sampling of some gone but not forgotten toys from the 1950s through 1990s.

1950s

Tiny Tears

Introduced in 1950, this doll was notable by her ability to shed tears from two tiny holes under her eyes when her stomach was pressed. Tiny Tears' "rock-a-bye" eyes slowly closed when she was laid horizontally and gently rocked. Tiny Tears accessories included a baby bottle and a small pipe that blew bubbles when filled with a soapy solution and inserted into the doll's open mouth.

Girder and Panel

These building sets created by Kenner Toys in the mid-1950s allowed kids to build plastic models of mid-twentieth century style buildings with interlocking plastic girders. When the frame was completed colored plastic panels were then snapped onto the frame to create walls and windows. Roof panels with translucent domes completed the buildings. Girder and Panel products are still produced by Bridge Street Toys.

1960s

Creepy Crawlers

Kids made these colorful rubbery bugs themselves out of a plastic goop that was poured into a "thingmaker" mold, heated and cooled. Introduced by Mattel in 1964.

Chatty Cathy

The first talking doll to hit it big, Chatty Cathy was produced by Mattel in the early 1960s. A pull string at the back of the doll triggered phrases such as "I love you," "Let's play School," and "Can I have a cookie?" The internal system consisted of a needle, small turntable and a record.

Mr. Machine

This robot-like mechanical man introduced in 1960 wore a top hat and was activated by a big windup key on his back. Turn the key and Mr. Machine would walk, swing his arms and ring a bell. A body made of clear plastic made it possible to see all his mechanical parts, which could be taken apart and reassembled.

1970s

Mood Rings

These rings changed colors in response to body heat to reflect your emotions. First marketed in 1975 they were actually a form of liquid crystal thermometer adorned with a glass gemstone. If the stone was blue, it meant the wearer was happy. If it turned black, the person was stressed or anxious.

Stretch Armstrong

This figure of a muscular man wearing a bathing suit could be stretched from its original size of about 15 inches to as much as four or five feet. Introduced in 1976, it was made of latex rubber filled with gelled corn syrup. It was reissued in the 1990s.

1980s

Wacky Wall Walkers

These sticky rubbery figures looked like a miniature octopi and when thrown against a wall would slowly crawl down to the floor. Immensely popular in the early 1980s, they came in various colors.

Pogoball

Also known as lolo ball, it featured an inflatable ball divided in the middle by a circular platform that kids stood on and hopped around. You could hop down small stairs, spin, flip the pogo ball and jump rope while on the pogo ball. Introduced by Hasbro in 1987 it is still produced today by other manufacturers.

Pound Puppies

These plush stuffed dog dolls were sold by Tomka in the 1980s. It later inspired an animated TV series and a feature film. Pound Puppies featured floppy ears and droopy eyes and came in a variety of colors and styles, each with a carrying case and adoption certificate.

1990s

Tickle Me Elmo

This doll version of the famous Muppet introduced in 1996 was a soft toy that would respond to squeezes and hugs with laughter and giggles. It would also vibrate when tickled. It was in such demand that there were widespread reports of consumers fighting each other in stores to obtain the dolls.

Tamagotchi

A tiny computerized pet that could live on a keychain or in a child's pocket. The toy featured a small LCD screen where its owners could play with and feed it. First introduced in Japan, it became a huge hit in the U.S. in the 1990s. A variety of Tamagotchis were available, each with different characteristics, looks and sensitivities.

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