Tales From A Hungry Life

December 7, 2015

15 Cool Retro Toys

by Maria Schulz

I wanna be a toys r us kid

I wanna be a toys r us kid

Yes, it’s that time of year again, folks: time to go out there and find the best toys around. Toys that will educate, prepare our children for a future in the science and math fields, and make them perfect little corporate drones.


My parents never focused on getting me a gift that would ensure an acceptance letter to the premier college of my choice. They chose things that sparked creativity, helped you learn about the world around you, and maybe even showed you what you were destined to be someday. That, of course, was clearly an accident. But still.

Let's go retro

Let’s go retro

Here are my favorite Christmas toys that are still DA BOMB after all these years. Ready? Let’s go…


The fun and wonderful toy

The fun and wonderful toy

  1. The Slinky: the fun and wonderful toy! Get it to walk down the stairs, wear it like a single earring, or use it as a temporary ladder for your Barbie doll or action figure. Use your imagination, kids! The applications are endless.etch a sketch
  1. Etch a Sketch: I dare you to make the Mona Lisa on this! Go on. See what kind of mad skills you possess when you aren’t using an iPad. I was thrilled when I could write my name in script on an Etch a Sketch. We all have different talents.
Call me maybe?

Do you need some answers?

  1. Magic 8 Ball: Oh Magic 8 Ball, will I get an A on my next math test? Try later. Here’s a toy that requires an imagination and a sense of humor! The laughs keep coming with this silly little ball that can tell you the future. Just keep shaking it if you don’t like the answers.
Knock his block off!

Knock his block off!

  1. Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots: Go ahead, knock his block off! This toy had the dual function of letting you work out your aggressions at the same time as you were laughing like crazy. I call the red one!



  1. Simon: come on…can you remember the sequence? Press the button and show off your eidetic memory. Or, press the buttons and show off your early memory loss. Either way, it’s a fun game that challenges you to think, respond, compete, and repeat.
I can lift comics with this

I can lift comics with this

  1. Silly Putty: mold, stretch, bounce, put it on comics and pick up the picture. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have with a tiny bit of money and loads of imagination. It’s in the Toy Hall of Fame for a reason!
I can be a designer

I can be a designer

  1. Spirograph: get ready to design your heart out. This set of gears and wheels help you create distinctive designs that you can use to create all sorts of pictures. Color them in and create your own coloring book while you’re at it.
Making things with Lite Brite

Making things with Lite Brite

  1. Lite Brite: go ahead, make things with Lite Brite! I can’t draw, but I could always push pegs into a board that lit up, so I could design amazing scenes. This is perfect for hours of entertaining fun.

    I need to take this call

    I need to take this call

  1. Fisher Price Chatter Phone: what little kid won’t still enjoy playing on this phone? It looks retro (they won’t care about that, but you will), it can be dragged around because it has wheels, and they can make believe they’re having a very important conversation with anyone they please. It’s a great imagination-starter that will still thrill your little ones.

monkeys in a barrel

  1. Barrel of Monkeys: how many monkeys can you link arm in arm? This was one of our favorite games when I was little. You’d start hanging them off the sides of our big orange counter top (it was the 60s, after all) and then keep going until they all fell off. Then you’d start over. Or you’d use the monkeys to play with some of your other animal toys. Perfect for the bath (they float and dry easily). When you’re done, just throw them all back in the barrel (or risk losing your monkeys).
You had me at hello

You had me at hello

  1. Mr. Potato Head: Or for those of you so inclined, Mrs. Potato Head. Mr. Potato Head, I love you! You can change Mr. Potato Head to fit any mood or character. Does he have a mustache? Big eyes? Is he smiling? Maybe, maybe not. You decide.
My old pal

My old pal

  1. Bozo Punching Bag: this was supposed to be for me, but I can still remember my brothers punching the living daylights out of Bozo. You get a pretty good workout and you laugh a lot. I think I could use one even now to blow off some steam.

Crissy doll orange dress

  1. Chrissy Doll: she didn’t talk, walk, or crawl, but she was only limited by what you imagined she could do. She came in a groovy orange lace dress. You could brush her hair, give her a back-story, and spend hours with her.

    Malibu Barbies!

    Malibu Barbie, Francine, & Skipper

  2. (and #15 too) Traditional Barbie Doll/ Traditional GI Joes: Full-size, please (but not life size. Duh). You could create whole families with these toys. Everyone had a story and an agenda. It was like reality TV, except much more realistic and compelling. Think the Kardashians with people you actually cared about and liked.
GI Joe, the great love of Skipper's life

The great love of Skipper’s life


So good

So good

Gingerbread Cookies

Here are some fun cookie ideas to make your holidays bright. Don’t have time to bake from scratch? Use the slice and bake kind from your grocer’s freezer. I won’t tell.

So…what’s the best toy gift you ever received?  Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!



  1. You did it again – made me think of my childhood! I remember just about every item you referenced. Silly putty was awesome until you forgot to put the storage lid on tight and it became a mini rock. I really liked a life-size Barbie head/bust that I got one year. I applied her make-up, brushed her hair. Some of my least favorite things to do now!

    Comment by lisasafran — December 7, 2015 @ 11:44 am | Reply

  2. I barely remember GI Joe. But Here’s a couple of things that really required imagination. My Brother’s Charlie McCarthy doll, My Mortimer Snerd’s doll. Both required a knowledge of ventriloquism. I went to the library to learn. Never could get it through my thick head it was like magic, illusion. The voice wan’t really thrown. One time I got a sturdy cardboard cut out of a cockpit. I wanted to be a pilot until I learned that required one to fly very high and I was afraid of heights. One toy I never got was one I saw after I sat on Santa’s lap at Macy’s. You could fly a plane by the use of a pole (hey I was very young and that’s what I remember) but my mom said it was very expensive so forget that. She wouldn’t let me revisit Santa to add that to my requests. Ah Christmas! I heard this from a very respected source that Jesus looks at it like a big birthday party that after the Magi he never gets any presents so he enjoys the celebration of Hanukkah. Not sure of this but it sounds good. .

    Comment by bglou — December 7, 2015 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

  3. I’d like a Bozo punching bag now! LOL! Great fun, Maria! Hope you get all the toys you want this Christmas! 🙂

    Comment by wordimprovisor177 — December 7, 2015 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

  4. I had that Bozo the Clown punching bag!

    Comment by John Wagner — December 8, 2015 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

  5. Maria, Those toys brought back memories. My favorite Christmas present was a Herman Munster puppet that spoke when you pulled his string. Unfortunately my baby brother Joe thought biting on the string was fun and broke the toy. I once received a Charley McCarthy ventriloquist manikin and four hours later my older brother Jude threw it down the basement stairs and shattered his head to pieces. Merry Christmas.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — December 13, 2015 @ 3:55 pm | Reply

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