As a baby of the 80′s, there were some pretty bad ass toys that always seemed to get banned from school after it had been totally cool for us to bring them in our Jansport backpacks for a while. It’s like school administrators didn’t want us to be imaginative and slap the shit out of each other with stainless steel bistable spring bands. Suits, man. Suits.
I have to say that not only were these toys brilliantly simple ploys to zap our parents’ bank accounts, but the advertising was on a level all its own. As a musically-defined human, I have to admit that the one thing I miss most about advertising these days is The Jingle. Whatever happened to some wiry dude in his late 40′s, hunched over a 37-key Casio, smoking Marlboro Reds like a chimney, and powering out a reel-to-reel on their Sony TC-630 to send IN THE SNAIL MAIL to ad execs? What happened to those days? Nowadays, the most we get is a sing-song telling of the company’s name or tagline at the end of the commercial. Snore.
Let us reminisce on the glory of Toys Popular In The 1990s That Would Get You Sent To The Principal’s Office, shall we:
Because every child who can barely do the rope climb and gets eerily excited for “parachute day” in phys ed should have at least two of these suckers on the playground. Why not have the youth of this glorious decade swing a weighted counter around by a hoop of hard plastic, strangled around the ankle of the other leg? It will teach them counting. Not to mention it taught us the tender mercy of caring for self-inflicted flesh wounds, both from skillfully succeeding at the activity as well as the eating of shit (which happened far more often than the former). Fret not at the idea of this being a secluded activity, dear parents. Go on kid, flirt with danger by having your friend try not to screw you up by skipping over the thing, too. That’ll end well. But, seriously, I’ll be damned if that commercial wasn’t catchy as fuck:
Ah, the one toy that made every little girl feel whimsical, elegant, graceful…uncoordinated. Here is a wand (or a stick depending on the brand of present asshole) with a few strands of ribbon tacked to the end of it. You should definitely run wildly around, shaking the thing vigorously above your head, inducing early on-set carpal tunnel and not ‘fwap!’ your siblings in the facial region with the nine-hundred foot ribbon trailing behind you. Even better? Throw some high kicks into the mix because nothing screams safety like a child throwing their knobby leg into the air next to something it will absolutely get entangled in, undoubtedly resulting in blood shed, tears, and a bruised ego twenty years down the road. Ahem.
And again, that genius commercial advertising really brings it home:
Another fabulous contraption to break your ass enjoying! Any toy that comes with explicit instruction on how to start using the product without causing bodily injury should maybe be a warning sign that, no, it’s fair to assume you are not ever going to be a “Pogo Ball Master”. Especially not if you are so horrible at executing the balance AND bounce thing, that you convince your parents to buy you the Pogo Ball with a handle. Sac up and take the broken tailbone, kid. Way more street cred.
Advertising win: GIANT MONSTER HAND WANTING IN ON THE ACTION! (Why are these children in a castle?!)
Now these examples, while totally prime, weren’t the only killer toys you found yourself jeopardizing your spotless delinquency record to enjoy. There were also Pogs (SLAMMER! SLAMMER! SLAMMER!), slap bracelets, ALL THE LISA FRANK SHIT and Caboodles. You had to be smart about it, though. You couldn’t go off mixing your contraband. Friends don’t let friends go slapping a bracelet on someone who is ribbon dancing on a Pogo Ball whilst battling for ultimate Pog victory.
What playground contraband were you willing to have stamped on your permanent record?