Tales From A Hungry Life

December 4, 2013

14 Best Toys Ever

by Maria Schulz

Christmas is coming, and that makes me think of TOYS! Since I will be shopping for the only little guy left in my family, it got me to thinking about all of the awesome toys I enjoyed as a child.

That’s why I was so amused by this article about toys that made it into the Toy Hall of Fame this year:


I didn’t even know there was a Toy Hall of Fame! I was even more surprised to learn that the two inductees from 2013 were (drum roll please): the rubber duckie and the game of chess. Of course, I understand the importance of The Rubber Duckie because I am a huge Sesame Street fan. I can still sing the song along with Ernie (without cheating):


Rubber Duckie, you’re the one!

You make bath time lots of fun.

Rubber Duckie, I’m awfully fond of you.

You. You You You You.


I can even understand why the chess game made it onto the list. When we were young, my brother Chris and I used to play chess together. I didn’t really understand the game, so I took out lots of library books and learned tricks so I could beat him in a few plays.

That used to infuriate him, so I stopped doing that and started playing him like I was a Russian chess master. This way, the game went on endlessly until one of us backed the other one into a corner that we couldn’t get out of and the game finally came to its’ merciful end.

So as you can imagine, I’m totally for the Rubber Duckie and the Chess game’s placement into the Hall of Fame. I even got a kick out of the other 53 toys that were already inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. Check them out at: http://www.toyhalloffame.org/toys

Some of my favorite Hall of Famers are Mr. Potato Head, Barbie, GI Joe, roller skates, the Slinky, jump ropes, bicycles and Silly Putty. You pretty much have 2/3 of my childhood right there. However, there are some toys that aren’t on the list that I think definitely should be, so here are:

14 Toys that Should be in the Hall of Fame, and Possibly Under the Christmas Tree

  1. The Farmer See-n-Say Pull String Toy: the duck says: Quack! The cow says: Moo! What child in their right minds wouldn’t love this toy? I’m sure it looks a little different now then it did back in my heyday, but I’m guessing that the under 3 crowd would still get a HUGE kick out of this baby. Just don’t let their big brothers get their hands on this, since the pull string won’t last very long with them around. Oh, wait…that’s my big brothers you should keep away.Farmer See n Say
  2.  Pac Man: this was nominated in 2013, but didn’t make it to the final cut. Come on! I spent a boatload of quarters on this one at the bowling alley when I was a kid. It was addictive, and I can still hear the music as my little Pac Man tried to eat up all the coins before he was destroyed.Pac-man
  3.  Asteroids: here was another classic game that kept me busy (and mostly broke) every time I stepped foot into an arcade or bowling alley. I always hoped to knock off all the aliens before they landed, but I usually wasn’t successful. So how did I cope? I spent another quarter. And another…and another…
  4. Pong: the granddaddy of ‘em all when it comes to TV console games. My brothers brought this game home after they went “canvassing” for more newspaper customers and won it as a reward for signing up the most new subscribers. I used to love playing this against one of them—if and when they let me play.

    Want to play Pong?

    Want to play Pong?

  5. Slime: this utterly disgusting, slippery, slimy pile of green goo came in a green can and served no earthly purpose, except to get caught in the carpets and ruin the furniture. However, it felt really weird and was fun to use with your Barbies when you were putting them into some dangerous imaginary scenario.Slime
  6.  Cabbage Patch Kids: I remember when this toy was THE HOT TOY of the year, back a hundred years ago. Lucky for me, Chris worked at a store and was able to put one aside for me. Did it matter that I was really too old to get caught up in this whole ridiculous phenomena? Nah.
  7. Battleship: G-3. Miss. C-7. Miss. I-1. Hit! YOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIP! Now here was a game that kept my brothers and me busy for many, many hours. You couldn’t just play one game. No, it had to be a best of 3, or a best of 5, or sometimes, a best of 7. I like the old-school version, which are just two game boards that close up like two boxes, with red and white pegs, five different boats, and endless sound effects, supplied by you.

    It's a hit!

    It’s a hit!

  8.  The Barbie Dream House: There was an elevator! Endless square footage! Barbie, PJ, Skipper and Francine could have their own rooms! All right, so I never actually owned this toy, but I asked for it every year. My dolls never got to live in this dream house; they had to share “rooms” in the five-room railroad apartment that was my dresser. This one definitely should be in the Hall of Fame.
  9. Trivial Pursuit: when I wasn’t gazing lovingly into the eyes of my Cabbage Patch Doll, I was probably trying to impress my friends by getting as many wedges as possible in the game of Trivial Pursuit. You could say I’m a bit of an idiot savant, since my head is filled with more useless information than Rain Man’s. If only the Geography category had been “James Garner Movies.”trivial pursuit categories
  10. Mike Powers, Atomic Man: Technically, since GI Joe made it into the Hall of Fame, Mike Powers, Atomic Man is in too. However, I think he deserves his own special designation. My brother had this toy when he was a kid, and he loved it. Mike fit right in with the rest of the GI Joe crew, and his atomic arm and leg made him the obvious choice whenever there was an apocalyptic story line.
  11. The Bionic Woman: you could pull her skin up to reveal the chips in her arm, and when you twisted her head, it made a “click click click” sound that indicated her bionic sense of hearing. She also came with a stylish blue jumpsuit and a snazzy red shoulder bag that held all of her important accessories. What more do those people need to put this doll in the Toy Hall of Fame?bionic woman doll
  12. The Six Million Dollar Man: well, naturally you need to add him to this list, since he has to help The Bionic Woman save the world. Just don’t let him sing any weird songs about how much he loves her like he did in the TV show, and you’ll be all right.
  13. The Game of Life: really now—if Monopoly gets to be in the Toy Hall of Fame, so should The Game of Life. It was the perfect choice when you didn’t have a week to sit around buying up all the real estate on the Monopoly board, or you just felt like trying to shove as many peg people into your little car as it could possibly hold. Spin the wheel! Follow the path of Life! Become a millionaire or end up in debtor’s prison! How much fun is that?

    Important life lessons AND a plastic car filled with peg people

    Important life lessons AND a plastic car filled with peg people

  14. The Pogo Stick: is this toy dangerous? Yes. Is it likely you will fall while trying to learn how to do it? Yes. Should you do it anyway? YES! I thought this toy was a giant hoot. Again, I never had it myself, but that’s what friends are for.
    Don't fall

    Don’t fall

    I loved bopping around on a pogo stick, almost as much as I loved climbing to the top of the monkey bars when I was 5. That was back when there was no padding underneath the monkey bars (and there were monkey bars) and if you fell, you probably walked away with one or more limbs hanging at odd angles and a bloody head wound that made the Texas Chainsaw Massacre look tame by comparison. So what did my mother say before you climbed to the top of the monkey bars or got on the Pogo Stick? DON’T FALL! Wise words from a woman who had seen it all.


Pac Man Cake



In honor of one of my favorite toys of all time, here are some fun ideas to create your own Pac Man cakes, cookies, brownies and more


So, Hungry Lifers…which toys would you put in the Toy Hall of Fame? Are you on board with the Rubber Duckie and game of Chess induction this year? Do you know of a Mike Powers, Atomic Man cake recipe? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks.



  1. I guess for me Tiffany Taylor. She is the 70″s version of the American Girl Doll. Actually a sexy version. She wore (and still does in my closet) a gold sparkly bodysuit that should be a size bigger in the chest area. She has hair that can rotate at anytime and go from black to blonde. Come on, what a great concept for little girls! If she is dating a much smaller G.I. Joe or Ken and they prefer blondes, no problem just let me turn my scalp around. OOps, let me fix my bodysuit I think she even came with high leather boots but I must’ve put them on my fingers at some point and lost them. Okay maybe she shouldn’t be in the hall of fame. I did think of Operation while reading it. I hated that came but was obsessed with doing it right. I wish I thought about it at the time but Tiffany Taylor could’ve been my assistant nurse during that game when my Julia doll was on vacation.

    Comment by suzanne — December 4, 2013 @ 9:37 am | Reply

    • I didn’t have Tiffany Taylor and now I feel sad! I did have two Chrissy dolls, though. Their hair color didn’t change but they could go from Cher-length hair to Joey Heatherton pixie. Now if that’s not a great toy, I don’t know what is.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 4, 2013 @ 10:54 am | Reply

  2. Fun list, Maria! It brought back memories of successes and defeats. The Game Of Life was my favorite board game with the little peg people (I actually named). Those awesome coups took the board game to a new level. And it is on the hall of fame for toys list. Other favorites include Scrabble (after playing I would set up the racks in rows like a theater, the board like a screen and pretend the tiles were people viewing a movie, moving them in and out between the rows) and the Pogo Stick! Least favorite: Hula Hoop! Two things I could never master (master, hah, I couldn’t even start) was ice skate backwards and do the hula a hoop!

    Comment by Emmi — December 4, 2013 @ 10:49 am | Reply

    • You’re right, Emmi! It is there. Okay, I feel a terrible wrong has been made right. Thank you! I would replace it with Operation. I loved that one too!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 4, 2013 @ 11:01 am | Reply

  3. Chess is not a toy. It is a game of life and death. Unfortunately I could never master the game but despite what your brother Anthony has to say he could never beat me in a home made tournament. Not that I ever really paid attention to all that stuff!!!! The one toy I remember as being really special was a cardboard colored replica of an Airplane cockpit with the dials and seat I think, and steering wheel. I wanted to be a pilot until I realized that heights scared the hell out of me. There was one toy I saw in Macy’s that had a plane controlled by something like a magnetic stick, it is kind of vague since this was some 72 years ago, but I wanted it dearly. It was too expensive my Mom said. I thought “Where the hell is Santa Claus when you need him?”. This was when I first started doubting Santa Claus’ existence. The loss of innocence started then.

    Comment by Bglou — December 4, 2013 @ 12:25 pm | Reply

    • Sure, blame your mother. You probably had your doubts already. What toy did Santa Claus bring instead? Maybe you should’ve gone right to him!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 4, 2013 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

    • Was Macy’s around that long ago…lol (Cuz, it’s me Jae)

      Comment by nolesfan47 — December 4, 2013 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  4. I totally had the bionic woman doll. I just had a flashback remembering about peeling her skin back to reveal her computer chips!!!!

    Comment by Paula — December 4, 2013 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  5. Space invaders, I spent hours upon hours playing this.
    Also, how about the Jack in the Box? It still is around.
    And the view master…you got to see places and pics a child or adult was able to learn about or at least enjoy looking at. This also is still available.

    Comment by Jae Franko — December 4, 2013 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

  6. PacMan Cake! I’m all over that! Maria, any time you want to play Jamie Sommers “barbies” in the inflatable dome home, let me know! Great post!

    Comment by Francine LaSala's Clippings In The Shed — December 4, 2013 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

  7. What a great idea, and such a fun list! But so ’70s…. I’m going to have to teach you youngsters about toys: Thumbelina, Chatty Cathy, Lincoln Logs, trolls…. (I sound so old! No, I didn’t play with a corn cob doll!). The best toy ever in history, as far as I’m concerned is Lego. Genius. Gender-free, non-violent (tough to point one of those blocks at someone and shout, “Bang!”), endlessly inspiring.

    Comment by Beth Goehring — December 4, 2013 @ 8:27 pm | Reply

    • I loved Thumbelina! And I walked around with my trolls for years. Thanks for the great toy suggestions–Legos are the best (and, coincidentally, that was my family’s nickname: Lego).I’m not sure how inspiring we were though.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 4, 2013 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

  8. How about Rock’em Sock’em Robots…Stretch Cunningham…and all those Super hero Action Figures?

    Comment by Lloyd S. — December 4, 2013 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

    • I loved Rock’em Sock’em Robots! Thanks for reminding me about them, Lloyd, and for reading my blog. That Stretch doll was pretty cool too!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 4, 2013 @ 11:30 pm | Reply

  9. We’ve had many Barbie discussions through the years. Yes, I had the townhouse. It was actually nicer than the house I lived in. I also had the Barbie airplane, which was tons of fun. Donny and Marie dolls, Cher doll, plus a board game called Mystery Date?? And nothing was electronic! Thanks for sharing these fun remembrances of growing up in the 1970s. 🙂

    Comment by Lisa S. — December 4, 2013 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

    • Mystery Date! That one was so much fun. Hey…you had the townhouse AND the airplane? Lucky! I had none of that because we were busy being millionaires without the millions as my grandmother used to say. Thanks for playing along.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 4, 2013 @ 11:33 pm | Reply

  10. I didn’t read ALL of the posts, so I don’t know if anybody else here is going to remember this: But does anyone remember “The Outer Space Men?” They were toys that represented all of the nine planets (except for Earth), and where they came from. My brother Tony’s favorite was the Martian, who’s name escapes me. Chris’ favorite was the half man-half robot, from Pluto. Louie’s was, I BELIEVE the character’s name, was COLOSSUS REX, from, of course, Jupiter. He was the largest of the outer space men characters, and he carried a large spike-balled weapon (a mace). My favorite, unfortunately I can’t remember my favorite’s NAME, was the outer spaceman from Uranus (please, no crass jokes, this IS a family site, you know!) Maria, do you happen to remember any of these toys?? Maybe Chris can help with this as well.

    Comment by Paul — December 8, 2013 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

    • I guess I’m leaving a reply to myself, but…………. I just got an e-mail from my brother Tony………. he told me that HIS favorite was a character that I COMPLETELY forgot about……… Astro Nautilus….. he was a humanoid half man-half octopus……… Maria, Tony e-mailed me that info……. the martian, I believe, was probably someone else’s fav….. I actually went and found the OUTER SPACEMEN online. There’s apparently some guy who’s made a site dedicated to the toys of his youth….. that’s where I was able to get the name of Tony’s favorite. The martian’s name was Alpha 7, I believe that’s what I saw………. Maria, was he YOUR favorite? I mean, you were only 2 years old at the time these things came out, but I sort of seem to remember not wanting to leave you out of the loop, even though they WERE called the outer spaceMEN! Does any of this seem to rekindle memories to you?? I think Jude’s favorite was Capt. Comet, the man from Venus. He had a spaceman’s suit, was the most human looking, and had giant wings. Joe liked the man from Saturn, he was red and looked very sinister. I have to go back to this site and get the rest of the names.

      Comment by Paul — December 9, 2013 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

      • Those toys probably kept you guys busy for a long time. Did you each get one, or did one of you get a toy and the rest just wished for one??? Chris, do you remember the Outer Space Men?

        Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 10, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

    • Hi Paul! I didn’t remember the Outer Space Men until you started to talk about it. I don’t remember if I had one. That was probably something you guys really enjoyed while I kept dreaming about that Barbie Townhouse. I wonder if anyone else remembers the Outer Space Men?

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 10, 2013 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

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