Weird Toys


According to many psychologists, toys can dramatically influence how a child plays and therefore his or her development. Child's play has a role in establishing identity, as well as socialisation - they help children learn cause and effect, explore relationships, acquire skills and engage in 'rehearsing' for the adult world.

The consumables we offer up to our children say much about what we are about in any given decade. Toys and products we may have happily given them yesterday, we might cringe at today and some products we sell to children today would have horrified parents of the past. What would they have made of Bratz dolls or slinky underwear for primary schoolers? Indeed, what, if anything, does that say about our present culture? It's interesting to take a look at some of the toys of past decades to get a glimpse of where we were at, and whether or not those toys were successful....


An assortment of Glooks. Image from the Glook Museum Website
An assortment of Glooks. Image from the Glook Museum Website

Glooks

Before there were Furbies, there were Glooks...non-mechanical, fuzzy clumps of fur with big eyes, little round noses and small, flat feet. Glooks didn't do much, they were just...Glooky. Yet in the late 1960s the strange little creatures were a huge craze.

The drawcard was the long fur, which little girls could comb, plait and gather into bows and top notches.

According to the Glook Museum (yes, there is such a thing) when the toys went on sale in Britain in 1966, over 78,000 Glooks were sold every week...a toy manufacturers dream.

Evidently Glooks were especially popular in Australia, where, as the museum website notes: Our records reveal that nearly every regional town and capital city in eastern Australian were Glook customers from 1967 to 1985. We loved our Glooks.


Gay Toy Cigarettes?

The incredibly politically incorrect Fags were edible cigarettes that were given to small children, presumably so they could get some practice in before they became real smokers.

A slender white candy stick, Fags had an authentic looking red tip on the end, to emulate a lit cigarette. The idea was to foster an oral fixation...the child would suck on the stick slowly until they reached the end, at which point the red tip would dissappear between the lips and a feeling of satiation would ensue.

Naturally such a heinous product couldn't survive much past the 1970s and at some point around that time, the red tip dissappeared and the product was renamed Fads. Eventually it was discontinued altogether - the long white stick was just too much like a cigarette, no matter how hard the manufacturers tried to disguise it.


Sweet Midge in the family way. Nothing wrong so far
Sweet Midge in the family way. Nothing wrong so far
Shades of Demi Moore's Vanity Fair cover
Shades of Demi Moore's Vanity Fair cover
Eek! Too much information?
Eek! Too much information?

Pregnant Midge

Sometime in the forward-thinking, openminded, 2000s someone at Mattel decided it would be a good idea to bring out a pregnant doll, complete with baby inside. Barbie's best friend was chosen as the candidate, which was all very respectable, as Midge was married to "Alan" and already had twins.

What were they thinking? Not surprisingly, Mattels pregnant Midge doll never really caught on, which is just as well when you consider what a disturbing item she was. It turns out most children didn't want to know the nuts and bolts of embryonic development and were turned off by her spooky magnetic stomach that pulled off to reveal a cramped, fully developed foetus.

On top of this, many parents complained, claiming the doll 'promoted teen pregnancy and sexual intercourse'. The whole thing was a little half-hearted anyway...the baby did not come down the birth canal but was designed ala Macbeth, to be "ripped from it's mothers womb". Yikes.

Note that a pregnant Barbie was never made - perhaps because Barbie is destined to be eternally single and must not be sullied by any suggestion of sex. For a gal of her dimensions she's remarkably asexual. Of course there is Ken, but he's really just a fashion acccessory and besides, everyone knows he's gay.


Baby laugh-alot

Depending on your perspective Remco's Baby-laugh-lot is a cute, cheerful doll that will have your kids in stitches or a Chucky-like monstrosity that would scare the pants of any thinking kid. The hysterically laughing doll was brought out briefly around 1970, only to dissappear not long after from the toy shelves.

Beware autonomophobes, the creepy commercial made to go with this baby is enough to have you hyperventilating.. What's with the rapid head turning? Must have been made pre-Exorcist. This doll needs a firm slap across the face to calm her down.


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Comments 37 comments

Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean

Fun hub! I remember, errr sucking on Fags. I thought they made me look cool. Never grew up to be a smoker though. I don't remember that doll though. I think the makers of Chucky and The Exorcist both got their inspiration from that commercial.


jrsearam profile image

jrsearam 5 years ago from San Juan, PR

Hola Jane,

Glooks seem to be related to Cousin It, from the Addams Family. I can understand why they were so popular. Who can resist cute and furry? Amusing and entertaining read Jane...JR


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 5 years ago from Cotswold Hills

I think one of the main problems with psychologists and other professions that have eyes in their butt they all tend to suffer from 20x20 Hindsight and try so desperately hard to retro fit things together attempting to make themselves appear smarter than the rest of us.

We on the other hand were far too bust just playing with the toys. When I was a kid I had a cowboy outfit complete with two six shooters and a Winchester rifle. I also had to have a bow and arrows plus a feathered head dress for when I was on the other side. But I never acquired a desire to go forth and murder the native North Americans.

I watched Tom and Jerry on the TV, yet so I have resisted the temptation to hit a cat full in the face with a frying pan or squeeze one though a drain pipe in the sure knowledge that it is unlike to recover its original shape.

In the school Tuck shop we not only had sweet cigarettes but chocolate cigars and liquorice pipes as well, they were considered cool because we were emulating our heroes on the big screen.

I think the point most psychologists and analysts miss is the one that says children today are expected to grow up way too fast, they are not allowed a childhood.

We played out our fantasies in the peace and quiet of total ignorance, no one bothered us with sex education in Primary school or bombarded us with must have clothes and fashion trends . I remember seeing a young female friend of mine at the swimming pool one day she had obviously pestered her mother into buying her a bikini, the fact that she had nothing to put in it was obvious as it sat around her chest about an inch below her nipples ! We all thought it was hilarious, both boys and girls..... You see nobody told us we were being Sexist or Politically Incorrect and what’s more I don’t recall that she needed counselling or therapy either; she just hit me and pushed me into the water....


Golfgal 5 years ago

I think my biggest concern about kids today is all the violent computer games that they play. Then going outside to play with friends and acting out the horror they just experienced. I do not recall that pregnant doll, that is traumatic i think for a child. Geez, what were people thinking? I agree, it encourages teen pregnancy. I barbie can have sex why can't I!!!


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

Fun hub. Makes you wonder what we were thnking. Remember pet rocks? Someone made lots of money on that one. I posted a hub in the last few days on Accidental Inventions - Amusements. Would it be OK if I linked this hub to it?


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I remember candy cigarettes but not that name.


Pierre Savoie profile image

Pierre Savoie 5 years ago from Canada

There's this hilarious guy on YouTube whose outfit is called JeepersMedia, who likes to collect odd or disturbing or just plain bad, "what were they thinking?" toys. He covers many many "bad" toys through the decades, such as the Skipper doll, where little girls could make Skipper's breasts grow in mere seconds:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvnmnygo2XE


Pierre Savoie profile image

Pierre Savoie 5 years ago from Canada

I am trying to remember what great, positive toys I had as a kid, and it's a little tough. I think my parents didn't listen to us anyway, and a good thing because they had the sense not to buy every faddish new toy blow-molded in the shape of a current fad and tossed away a few days after Christmas with very little use on it. Maybe I was on the "deprived" side but I had high-replay type toys like: toy microscope, real low-market telescope, a 75-in-one electronic kit with wires you moved around by clamping them inside tiny metal springs, a couple of standard boardgames like MONOPOLY or CAREERS. When I started to earn money of my own I went hog-wild with some hobbyist stuff like the Rubik's Cube, odd boardgames, and the galaxy of role-playing game rulebooks (I had over 80 RPGs) and polyhedral dice.

And violent computer games are indescribably fun. There was nothing like the game of TRIBES played out on a virtual terrain of several square miles, that night I refereed a friendly game between 20 Americans and 20 Malaysians online in the early 2000's. Everyone had a jetpack, and a rocket-launcher. Psychologists, eh, what do they know? Too often their interest was making a name for themselves rather than doing anything good to protect sensitive, impressionable little minds.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

You have featured some weird toys here, Jane. I don't remember seeing Glooks advertised in the U.S. They may only have been popular on your side of the pond. But they are kinda cute and I can see the attraction they might have with that long hair. Thanks for the education.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Pretty good Jane. When my nieces were growing up I tended not to give them dolls. A ball that lit up when it bounced was a big hit when they hadn't quite reached their teens. I got it from one of the Australian National Geographic shops. I remembered from childhood a money box coffin I had. You would put the coin in a slot on the top and a grizzly hand would reach up and take the money inside. I managed to find one of these money boxes in a shop in Chinatown, Sydney and it was also a big hit.

I think growing up that I would have liked a Star Trek Tribble rather than a Glook but I was a big Star Trek fan.

At one time I believe there were also chocolate cigarettes, not just the hard candy ones.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hi Randy,nice to see you. Haha..yes, I think you're right about the baby-laughs-alot commercial. Crazy!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

jsarm, I don't know why I didn't spot that earlier...definitely shades of cousin IT! Plus the toy came out at around the same time he TV show was on. The 60's were a hairy time. Thanks for popping in.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Merlin, thanks for insight into your childhood. I can just see you running around in your cowdy outfit, your six guns blazing.Cute! They (whoever they are) did go over the top with the sensitivity thing. I mean, banning, among other things, Noddy? They were reading things into the text that weren't necessarily there.

Yes, kids today do grow up fast. The thing that bothers me is they seem to spend a lot less time reading and playing outside - using their imaginations. There is some talk among neurologists(not psychologists!) that technology is 'reshaping' their brains and what's more, if we keep travelling along the same path, as a species we may end up less capable of the deeper thought processes.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Golfgal,well at least they're getting outside! Some of the games do seem, not just incredibly gory but anti-social and just....well *not nice* . I'm not sure what effect this has on kids.

With the pregnant Midge, I suspect kids aren't all that interested in anatomically correct stuff.(not that pregnant Midge was all that accurate, she was just weird)..they just want to have some fantasy fun with their dolls. They have imaginations. Thanks for reading!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Truckstop Sally, how good an idea were pet rocks? Wish I'd though of it! I'll check out your hub and of course I don't mind! Thanks.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

dahoglund, it's amazing to think there was ever such a thing as toy cigarettes. I bet the tobacco industry thought they were great. Thanks for stopping by.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Pierre, thanks for introducing me to Jeepersmedia, that's great! I've never heard of "Growing up Skipper"...jeeze she makes pregnant Midge seem lame. An adolescent tranformation before your very eyes..lol. Mattel must have been on a hormone roll for a while there.

No wonder you grew up bright wth all those *educational* toys. I remember once, for my birthday my parents gave me a maths game...I was so dissppointed, I wanted to cry.:)


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

drbj, yes I think Glooks were a British thing. I can see the attraction...it's the hair! I do think Furbies owe some of their style to the Glook -they're quite similar.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Rod, the money box coffin sounds good. You're right about the chocolate cigarettes.They were pretty flash; wrapped in white paper and done up in a realistic looking cigarette packet.

Y'know, funny you should mention it - I bought a light-up bouncy ball just recently...I thought it was nifty! Obviously I've never grown-up...


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 5 years ago from Cotswold Hills

Hi Jane,

Don't know what you mean... They had to ban Noddy, he shared a bed with Big Ears, and calling someone Big Ears... not only is that not politically correct it might scar the kid mentally for life....

Other books that should be banned by schools,

Goldielocks and the three Bears. Story of a girls who didn't care whose bed she slept in !

Snow White, tale of a young woman who ran away to live with seven deformed men in the woods.


Loveslove profile image

Loveslove 5 years ago from England

Dont forget the Puppet Andy Pandy who slept in a wicker hamper with Teddy and Looby loo !! Three in a bed ..even in the Puppet world ...Naughty naughty !!

I had all three of those puppets as a child but of course thought nothing of their antics ,its only now I actualy thought about it when reading tis Hub .


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

I think the Joker narrated that commercial - that was completely demonic. Aaaaah, the 70's, when everything was psychedelic. Thank God we live in the 11's when everyone is angry and suicidal and ga ga over Lady Ga Ga.

On a side note, I remember those chocolate cigarettes that disappeared when you sucked on them I think I only had 2 or 3 before they were gone, I was so pissed! In fact, the trauma of losing those fags makes me want to go smoke right now. See ya!

Great hub!


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Not much fun in growing up, Jane.


laddriggers profile image

laddriggers 5 years ago

I don't think we had Glooks here, but we've had plenty of other weird toys. Trolls were a bit like Glooks with bodies. Another fad-like toy I find odd looking back is the Tamagotchi.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Merlin,not to mention the goblins and golliwogs.Yeh, Snow White and Goldilocks (that dumb blonde)..what a pair of tarts!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Loveslove...Andy Pandy is totally gorgeous, but frankly I'm shocked to hear about that disturbing ménage à trois.

Weren't Bert and Ernie from Sesame St, in trouble at one stage too? And even the teletubbies...? It seems adults are too willing to tranfer there own peculiar interpretations and judgements on these things.


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Haha Alexander..the 70's were strange times indeed...but not as strange as now eh? i think I agree. Nice to see you by the way.

Rod, true!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

laddriggers, you're right about the Tamagotchi! I might have to bring out a Weird Toys 2..there's just too much strangeness out there in the toy world for one hub.

Thanks for visiting everyone.


Pierre Savoie profile image

Pierre Savoie 5 years ago from Canada

Related to tamagotchis are the Nintendogs programs, now on the Nintendo 3DS. Finally, you can walk around your dog's poop from all angles in 3D before scooping it up!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Now mommy laughs a lot:) up and all that!


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Pierre, that sounds like an exciting development! Thanks.

Thanks to you too RH


susiequeue profile image

susiequeue 5 years ago from Glasgow, UK

Toys are definitely an interesting way to gain insight into a particular culture at a particular time..! I remember something like the glooks as prizes at funfairs here in Scotland in the 1980s, they were referred to as "gonks" and were basically a bit of material with plastic eyes glued on..


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

susiequeue, where they made in China? They sound like a cheap imitation! Thanks for reading.


susiequeue profile image

susiequeue 5 years ago from Glasgow, UK

Hi Jane, to be honest they looked more like they were made in someone's shed.. Great hub by the way, I've always found dolls sinister in general but that Baby laugh-a-lot is genuinely terrifying, I think she would have joined the other dolls whose heads, arms and legs I had a tendency to pull off when I was a kid (it's probably too late for the psychiatric help I obviously needed..!)


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Hahaha..I used to quite like playing with dolls, working out little scenarios for them etc.,..it's my God complex, but yes, I understand the creepiness factor. They look so vacant. Old dolls with strange cryptic smiles are especially spooky.


waxi 5 years ago

Confession : I still like toys and I am not ashamed of it My German lady friend pampered me with toys she shopped in Frankfurt and I flew from Thailand to Dubai [ where we met ] to collect them . [She stared at me with wide open eyes ]

My dream is to rent out a suite in an expensive Hotel in Paris and play with lego and trains all day long

Jane you can bring your Dolls

Waqxi


Jane Bovary profile image

Jane Bovary 5 years ago from The Fatal Shore Author

Lol...that's some dream. Nothing wrong with liking toys!

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