Out Of A Hundred

This list of 100 Best Toys comes from the U.K., so I’m not surprised that I don’t recognize all of them. I was surprised by the low ratings they gave to some great toys, and the high ratings given to some shoddy ones, and outright stunned that Lego bricks (c) don’t make the list at all. The real fun comes from the authors’ descriptions of the toys and games.

Tonka trucks have to come in higher than 69 (behind “Stretch Armstrong” at 58? Get serious). It turns out that Parker Brothers marketed “Clue” in the U.K. as “Cluedo” (#37) (why?), in which game Mr. Green turns out to have been a vicar, Rev. Green. As for Strawberry Shortcake (# 75) and My Little Pony (#13) (no Care Bears at all), well, I’m with Pippa.

The essential point, though, is: what about the Mattel Thingmaker, that multi-vector health and safety hazard that I (and many other children, I’m sure, he said hopefully) spent hours and hours experimenting with? I don’t remember any single toy from my childhood that possessed my attention span more than baking those plastics in the dangerously hot oven, inhaling fumes that probably account for my acute short-term memory loss, and burning myself on the element. Those were the days! Creepy Crawlers, Fright Factory, Fun Flowers — oh, mercy.

7 thoughts on “Out Of A Hundred

  1. Neither Legos nor Care Bears make the list? Clearly, these folks don’t know what they’re talking about – though I did enjoy many hours playing with My Little Ponies….

  2. I’d completely forgotten about the Thingmaker. Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever talking to anyone who remembered having one. Nothing like toxic fumes to wipe a delightfully dangerous toy out of the collective memory.

    Luckily, as we move to completely uninspected toys made from our recycled toxics by companies in desperately poor parts of the world with no tomorrow to worry about, those great days should be coming back. Just this afternoon, I ran across some plastic Halloween skeletons that smelled exactly, and rather strongly, like skunk with just a slight overtone of Thingmaker and burnt oil. At first, I couldn’t believe that anyone would think they could sell such a poisonous and putrid thing, but then I realized, hey!, they’re only 19 cents apiece!

    Err, how did I get off on this rant? The Thingmaker was ultra-cool, but maybe I did lose more than just fine sensation on the tip of my right index finger.

  3. I had the Thingmaker that came with flower molds, green wire stems, and a styrofoam block (the garden). Boy, that goop smelled real bad! I remember making tons of flowers and sticking them all over my mirror.

    Another toy I loved was a game called Green Ghost that was supposed to be played in the dark. The glow-in-the-dark board was on stilts; there were pits that your game pieces could fall into (one had feathers, another had rubber bands to simulate snakes; I forgot what the third one had – bones??).

  4. Oh man, thanks for prodding my memory about the Thingmaker! I had so much fun with that at around age 7 or 8. Really wish they were still avail, so I could share them with my son now (who turns 9 tomorrow – Happy Birthday, Spencer! 🙂

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