Category Archives: Toys from 1990s

Toys of the 1990’s or 90’s popular toys, technology and the evolution of films and newer technologies lead to massive grossing toy sales. CD sales were rocketing and Computers were growing in popularity and starting to appear in the home.

The Internet began to take off in the later years. Outstanding sales of Nintendos Gameboy Handheld console were recorded as a bestseller for two years running, and later models evolved into GameBoy Colour, and GameBoy slim and in recent times the DS and 3D DS versions.

Cyberbets like Tamagotchi were a massive seller and appealed to the masses of kids as the price point was under $15.

Buzz Lightyear A key character from the huge Toy Story movies made this a must have toy and huge Christmas sell out for a couple of years with a highly popular initial product and a popular follow up.

Tamagotchi Interactive Toy on a Chain 20th Anniversary

The Tamagotchi Keyring Pet Toy is one of the most popular interactive toys from the 1990’s and makes an appearance as its almost time for their 20th anniversary. If you remember the original maybe you have kids of your own now who hopefully will appreciate the lack of interactivity and non-online gaming, and instead keep the pet fed, clean and healthy. 

Your kids will feed, clean up, and take care of their little portable digital friend just like the original Tamagotchi game you did back in the day, let them earn and appreciate responsibility. continue reading>>

Scrabble Board Game

Scrabble is a word based board game where two to four players earn points by forming words from the letter tiles and combining them with previous letters on the game board. The Scrabble gameboard is 15×15 in size, words can be made across and down, similar in fashion to the popular crossword. All words must be real words and found in the dictionary, there is even a Scrabble Players dictionary if you really want to go down that route.

The name of Scrabble is a trademark of Hasbro in the USA and Canada and elsewhere we believe it is trademarked by Mattel. The game has been sold and translated in over 120 Countries and over 29 different language versions available. Over 150 million sets have been sold worldwide which makes it one of the classic board games and found in many households. continue reading>>

Connect 4 or Four in a row

Four in a Row, also more commonly known as Hasbro MB Games ‘Connect 4’ or Captain’s Mistress is a straightforward strategy game in which counters are dropped down vertical shoots with the objective of getting four counters in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

Origins and History

It is not exactly known when the first Four in a Row game appeared. There are claims and whispers of legend that it may have been a game which was around in Captain Cooks time and was carved or made by hand and played to pass time. This could just be a myth and the only slight link or claim is when a Washington company in 1987 copyrighted a version called Captains Mistress, and on the packaging, they claim on voyages this was played, but of course, no way to prove one way or another.

four in a row blue  connect 4 Hasbro

Milton Bradley MB Games (now Hasbro) started selling their massively successful version of the game called Connect 4 in February 1974 (1976 in UK).

But the game has certainly been around for much longer, In a book by Robbie Bell, there is a picture of a 4 in a row game that he references “Four Balls”. It is a wooden game made to exactly the same design. There is also higher quality example through being made from Mahogany with beach balls for pieces. Bell says that the date of the game is uncertain but it is estimated that it is Edwardian c. 1901 – 1910. On the bottom of the game in gold lettering is inscribed “Remy Martin Cognac”.

Copycat versions

Apart from Hasbro’s Connect 4, many modern games manufacturers make a version of Four in A Row from small cheap plastic travel versions to larger wooden versions.

Since the turn of the century a boom in the production of Giant versions of the game for parties and events in the UK company Garden Games market a version licenced by Hasbro called Giant Connect 4, in the USA it is called ‘Up for It’.

In Spanish a company Feber market it as ‘Mega 4 in a Line’ – another brightly coloured robust Giant version of Four in a Row that can be seen all over the place in garden centres and play areas etc. The old veteran games company Jaques make a Four in a Row game called ‘Score Four’ that they also make it a very large version.

giant four in a row whitegiant connect 4 wooden
Another corollary game derived from Four in a Row is a 3D version of the game. This was first sold by a company called Funtastic in 1968 under the name Score 4 and again clones of it abound to this day – including the inevitable Hasbro version. The classic version of the game, however, is made from wood and consists of a 4 x 4 grid of vertical poles sticking up from aboard. Players drop wooden beads down the poles.

Image of Original Spirograph Box

Spirograph

A Spirograph is a drawing toy that produces geometric mathematical curves and shapes. It was developed by British engineer Denys Fisher and first sold back in 1965.

“Spirograph” term has also been used to describe a variety of software applications that display similar curves. It has also been applied to the class of curves that can be produced with the drawing equipment, the name has been a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc., since they took over and bought the Denys Fisher company.

Contents of Spirograph Original Toy Image of Original Spirograph Box

So who exactly invented the weird and wonderful Spirograph? Well a mathematician Bruno Abakanowicz invented the spirograph between 1881 and 1900. It was used to for calculating an area delimited by curves. Drawing toys based on gears fixed to paper have been around since at least 1908, when The Marvelous Wondergraph was advertised in the Sears catalog. An article describing how to make a Wondergraph drawing machine appeared in the Boys Mechanic publication in 1913.

The Spirograph itself was developed by the British engineer Denys Fisher, who exhibited it at the 1965 Nuremberg International Toy Fair. It was subsequently produced by his company.  The US distribution rights were acquired by Kenner, Inc., which brought it to the United States market in 1966 and promoted it as a creative children’s drawing toy.

In 1968, Kenner expanded the range by introducing Spirotot, a more basic version of Spirograph, aimed at the preschool-age market who were too young for Spirograph.

The original US-released Spirograph consisted of two different-sized plastic rings, with gear teeth on both the inside and outside of their circumferences. They were pinned to a cardboard backing with pins, and any of several provided gearwheels, which had holes provided for a ballpoint pen so you can press it through and decide which color you like through the gears to make colourful designs appear easily on the paper.

A number of  geometric shapes were later released so the Super-Spirograph consisted of a set of plastic gears and other interlocking shape-segments such as rings, triangles, or longer bars bars. It has several different sizes of gears and shapes, all of the edges have teeth to engage with the other pieces. So you could easily place the smaller gears inside the larger rings but also do a couple of small rings around the larger ring edges, the result is many rotations and crazy designs of interlinked shape designs.

To use the low tech spirograph simply place a sheet of paper is placed on a heavy cardboard backing, and one of the plastic pieces, these are secured via pins or reusable adhesive to the paper and cardboard. Another plastic piece—called the rotor—is placed so that its teeth engage with those of the pinned piece.

The point of a pen is placed in one of the holes of the rotor. As the rotor is moved, the pen traces out a curve. The pen is used both to draw and to provide force; some practice is required before the Spirograph can be operated without disengaging the stator and rotor. More complex and unusual-shaped patterns may be made through the use of both hands, one to draw and one to guide the pieces.

Sales of the Spirograph were highest during the late 60’s and throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s several different versions and material based versions have also been released over time. I can remember them fondly as sometimes a bit fiddly to set-up with the pins but maybe I was too eager to get on and ‘design’ sometimes my movements of the pen or pencil caused a few pins to fly and the paper to need changing for a new un-torn sheet.

Buckaroo

Buckaroo is a children’s game where you take turns and use your skill to take turns in placing small items and hooking, securing, sitting them on a mule without the mule being knocked or vibrations which can make the mule kick/trigger the spring inside and the items will be thrown off and the player loses that round of the game.

Buckaroo was always a favourite game of mine, because it included chance, anticipation and small amount of skill in which items would you pick and see if you could balance them and outwit the other players. It was similar in respect of a trigger/spring system to the Pop-up Pirate toy which was also quite good and also very frustrating at the same time if you were on a losing streak.

Buckaroo was originally released in 1970 and made by Milton Bradley a Hasbro company. In the original versions the horse or mule was white in color in future versions this was changed to a brown version. What was the mules name I hear you ask? Why the mule was named Roo or Buck of course.

Front Box Cover of Buckaroo Game Modern day MB Buckaroo Mule

 

 

 

So the starting position is the mule is pushed down and is standing on all four feet and has a blanket attached. Players take turns choosing an item and deciding where to place it so that it remains connected or hanging from the mule. They must do this very gently so that the spring system is not knocked or triggered by too much vibration or movement.

If the mule is triggered the spring will cause it to buck on its front legs and the placed items will be thrown off and that player is out.

Some of the items which you can try and place on your Buckaroo mule after the saddle which includes a number of fixing places include:

  • a a stick of dynamite
  • a crate (rifle box)
  • a frying pan
  • a cowboy hat
  • a guitar
  • a holster (holster with gun)
  • a lantern (lamp)
  • a rope
  • a canteen (water bottle)
  • a shovel
  • a bedroll
  • continue reading>>

    KerPlunk

    KerPlunk is a popular children’s game which was first marketed by the Ideal Toy Company back in 1967. The game is made up of a plastic tube and a number of plastic straws or rods in various colors which numbered around 30 or 26 in total. 

    The base contained four separate numbered trays and the straws are pushed through the holes midway through the tube to form a web or criss cross lattice. Then some marbles are then placed in the top of the tube, but they are held up by the straw web.

    At the start of the game the whole tube is turned so that a hole of the base of the tube is in line with the tray each player is using. Players then take it in turns removing a straw one at a time… but they need to pick wisely with the aim of having the least amount of marbles falling through the web and landing into their tray.

    kerplunk-in-action-who-will-win Kerplunk Boxed Image

    Once a player has touched a straw, they can not change their mind, they must stay committed to remove it and hope that they are not unlucky to have one or more marbles fall at the crucial time. The end of the game is once all marbles have fallen and the winner is crowned the person who has the least marbles in their tray.

    The game is available today, manufactured and marketed by the Milton Bradley Company in the UK and by Mattel in the USA, the modern version uses a pink tube rather than the original purple-colored tube.

    Hand Buzzer or Joy Buzzer History

    Hand Buzzers or to some they are called Joy Buzzers, these toys or joke toys are favourites with pranksters or when playing a joke or practical trick on someone. Hand Buzzers have been giving a jolt to victims since 1928 when they were created by a Danish inventor called Soren Sorensen Adams who went on to form a company and a novelty producer. Sorensen also came up with Sneezing Power in 1906, and also the razzberry or Whoopie Cushion, the snakes in a can, and the exploding cigar novelty toys. – So a huge amount of practical and comical jokes all from one guy, very impressive.

    Hand buzzer in packaging

    The Hand Buzzer became patented in 1932 and the device does not shock or jolt the victim it merely makes a loud vibrating noise which instead gives the victim a shock. I cant help but respect him a lot for devising numerous toys which have been very popular for gag and jokes in over a hundred years. I used to find Whoopie Cushions very funny to use apart from the times I overfilled it and it popped and alongside his other products, stink bombs and small bangers were also used in small doses honest.

     

    Pogo Stick

    Razor Bogo Pogo StickPogo Sticks have been around since the 1950s and became a massive hit through the 1970s when a redesign took place. Pogo sticks are still a popular childrens toy and most children are still keen to try the humble Pogo stick and see how they fair.
    So a Pogo stick is a pole with a handle at the top and footrests near the bottom, at the bottom a spring is in cased inside the pole.
    You need to place a foot on the foot rests or hop onto it and balance whilst you jump up and down with a slight bending motion at the knees. This motion allows you to control by adding or removing energy which goes into the spring below. Or you can see how many full bounces you can do to pretend you are Tigger or to travel in larger but potentially more uncontrollable steps.Super Pogo StickMaster X-Pogo Stick

    The modern pogo stick was invented in Germany by Hans Pohlig and Ernst Gottschall, they filed a patent in 1920 for a device called spring end hoping stilt – catchy hey.  Over time different designs have been made mainly focusing on adding more movement and higher bounce but also trying to protect the user from chin or head injury’s did also feature in several designs.

    Extreme Pogo or Xpogo is a growing action sport featuring 10ft jumps in height and many modern materials this has led to number of athlete and exhibition teams have been formed, this is one to watch the stunts and flips which are possible is great to watch.

    Clackers

    Clackers are a toy made of two hard plastic balls on plastic arms or a string which when jerked up and down the balls hit together making a loud click-clacking noise. the idea was to keep them active and clacking for as long as possible – Yes ok this was another toy fad 🙂 but they have had a number comebacks. They were very popular in the late 1960s through to the early 1980s.
    Original version of ClackersSmall Neon 90s version of Clackers
    The Clacker was discontinued over safety concerns as the balls/ends could be a little wild. A newer version of the Clacker which added fixed arms to the balls so the motion and sound were easier to achieve.

    The size of the weights/balls varied between models but a diameter of two inches was typical, with the original version with practice you could make the balls hit together above the hand and not just below.

    As we many toys Clackers were also known as Ker-Bangers and Clatter Balls and many other names.