’90s toys you were desperate to own that were actually super creepy in retrospect
Let me take you back to 1997, maybe the best year ever. When I wasn’t collecting Cabbage Patch figures from McDonald’s Happy Meals or rewatching Pocahontas or reading the Sabrina the Teenage Witch book series, I was glued to Nickelodeon, taking in all the classics. And I don’t just mean classic TV shows – the ‘90s produced so many incredibly cheesy (and very influential) toy commercials.
Zap! Bop! WOW! My kid senses were in overload, and I wanted every toy advertised between episodes of Hey Arnold. Only now, almost two decades later (insert ten grandma emojis here) do I realize how secretly creepy that some of these toys actually were. Give these playthings another look, and you’ll see it too – a lot of the toys we coveted were actually super weird.
Never-mind that they look like the cousins of Gremlins; Furbies were fuzzy experiments in artificial intelligence. They could learn new words, emotions, and they could tell you when they were hungry … for human flesh. Terrifying.
2. My Size Barbie
First, you and Barbie start sharing a wardrobe. The next thing you know, she will be walking around, going to school, and hanging out with your family without you. “My Size?” More like “my nightmare.”
3. Barbie Styling Head
Poor Barbie looks like she displeased the French government and got send to the guillotine. Her fixed smile makes it so much worse. Who thought this disembodied head wouldn’t freak out little kids?
4. Troll Dolls
Fun fact: Troll dolls were invented by a Danish woodcutter in 1959, and became popular after being marketed as “good luck.” Umm, is good luck really worth having to stare into those dead eyes?
5. Tickle Me Elmo
Sure, parents were practically killing each other to get a hold of these Sesame Street dolls back in the ‘90s, but, let’s face it, Tickle Me Elmo is a demonic, bossy plush toy who would have fit right into an Exorcist spin-off. “Tickle me, mortals!”
Did you ever notice how this ooey gooey sticky gucky Gak would suck up random objects, like hairs and coins and Cheerios? My theory is that, like “The Blob,” Gak wanted to ingest enough to start growing and eventually take over the world. Also, it felt like a wad of boogers. Doesn’t get creepier than that.
Childhood is not usually the best time to be playing god with a small robotic animal’s life and death in your hands, but Tamagatchi made it possible anyway. Come on, finding out your pixilated pet croaked and it was all your fault was pretty traumatizing!
8. “Don’t Wake Daddy” Board Game
The premise of this game is sneak around “Daddy” as he catches some z’s – if you mess up, a plastic, zombie-faced “Daddy” rises out of his plastic bed. What the game never explained is why you should be so nervous about waking “Daddy:” Is he just super grumpy without his beauty sleep or is he secretly a member of the undead?
9. Puppy Surprise
These stuffed animals were literally stuffed … with more stuffed animals. Allowing impressionable youngsters to play OB/GYN, each Puppy Surprise’s Velcro tummy opened and closed to allow access to an unrealistic uterus full of tiny puppies. Personally, my Puppy Surprise instilled some seriously messed up expectations for labor and childbirth. Woof!
10. Sky Dancers
Wow! These beautiful fairies actually fly – amazing! Until one of them strikes an aerial attack, whipping you with razor sharp wings right in the face. These things should have been military grade only.
11. Doodle Bear
This cuddle buddy seems totally harmless, but really think about Doodle Bear’s concept. Drawing all over an animal is like branding it – you can’t go through life branding all of your loved ones. The last time I tried to trick my boyfriend into getting a tattoo of my full name (including my Confirmation name, because why not?) it almost ended our relationship. I blame Doodle Bear!
12. Gooey Louie
Pull Louie’s boogers out of his nose because — like the aforementioned Barbie head — he doesn’t have hands. Watch out, though, pulling the wrong snot can eject Louie’s brain from his skull. I rest my case.
13. Marvin’s Magic Drawing Board
Tell me the truth: Do you think Marvin’s Magic Drawing Boards were a front for the mob? After falling prey to Marvin’s very persuasive infomercials, I begged for a Marvin’s Magic Drawing Board for Christmas. Imagine my horror when I found out these things are a scam. They don’t work at all. So, the Magic Drawing Board isn’t creepy, but my lasting trust issues most certainly is.
Did I miss any? What were the creepiest toys you coveted the ‘90s?