9 Retro Toys that made a Comeback (as Garbage)

By Loryn Stone and Carolyn Burke


“Back in my day, things used to work!” said every cranky shit person getting older with a fear of their inevitable death. “Toys used to be better, and god damn it, everything was higher quality!”

And well…that may be true to some extent.

As safety standards and methods of production evolve, certain toys just aren’t made like they’re used to. They can’t be, nor should they be. Toys run their course. And just because you had a favorite toy from your childhood, there’s no reason that same item should be available until the end of forever.

Purists out there remember: The original old-school Lite-Brite toy was a fire/electric shock hazard.

But hell, semantics, right?

Because that we’re in the thick of that dreaded beast called Nostalgia and we refuse to let anything fucking die, many toys from Yesteryear have in fact been resurrected in the form of total fucking shit that literally hardly functions, such as…

9. Snoopy ain’t Cool as Ice


I’m not exaggerating when I say that everyone in the world had this Snoopy Snow Cone Machine. Just having your mom or dad bust this thing out of storage was like a holiday. We gathered around the machine while mom stuffed it full of ice cubes. One of the kids, wholesomely laughing, would push down on the Snoopy-in-a-Devo-hat plunger, just like in the commercial.

No one would fight, everyone waited their turn, and within seconds, a mound of freshly shaved snow magically appeared for you to drizzle your Kool-Aid syrup on.

Everyone. Was. HAPPY.

Very, very, HAPPY!

So, back in 2011 when I saw this toy reissued, I knew I had to have it. I didn’t even have kids yet! I waited until I had children to crack this sucker open. This was my moment, the one all nostalgic fuckers are waiting for- the moment where my childhood RETURNED!

But no… this fucking thing doesn’t work. I know it worked when I was a kid. I ate the god damn snow-cones! But now…it’s just too cheaply made. It’s flimsy, it falls apart, the grating cylinder doesn’t work…and this is a top selling item. It’s available everywhere! But in my house? It’s literally just decoration.

Wait, that’s not completely true.

My daughter likes to hold the Snoopy while she poops.


8. The Easy Baking Oven Used To COOK, Man


Back in the day (1963) these babies got up to 350 degrees. The very first design was a bright teal color with an itty bitty stovetop.


It used an incandescent light bulb as a heating source that got up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and launched in November — just in time for Christmas shopping season. But forget cake or snacks, the Easy-Bake Real Meal Oven let kids make dinner — like pizza, pasta, and nachos — and replaced the previous light-bulb cooking method with a heating element.

Thus destroying the ability to actually BAKE.

They replaced the light bulb cooking method with a heating element in 2003. The new version supposedly gets up to 375 degrees, but lots of reviews (and my own experience) says nothing actually gets baked in this thing unless you leave it in way longer than you’re supposed to and then all you get are tiny burnt discs instead of actual cookies.

Are…are we going to the MOON?!

Let me walk you through what it’s like to use one of these today. Modern Easy Bake Oven: A True Story. My daughter got one of these Christmas a couple years ago. She was super and excited and honestly, so was I. Now, to paint a more vivid picture for you, I was a weird kid who hated Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, and Taco Bell cinnamon twists because most sweets are just gross, flavorless sugar bombs.

But I loved the crap out of anything that came out of my old school Easy Bake Oven.

We set this dumb thing up, baked everything according to the directions … and it was a soggy mess. So, we put it back in. And then put it in a third time. But, of course, by then, the cookies were hard as rocks. It’s basically a play it by ear kind of thing. You sit and wait and sniff the air constantly hoping to catch the cookies at the right moment between not soup but also not a granite Frisbee.

The updated version, the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven ($49.99), features a warming unit closer to a traditional oven that can climb to temperatures of about 375 degrees while the outside of oven “remains only warm to the touch,” according to the AP.

And well, the reviews speak for themselves:

EZ Bake Review 3EZ Bake Review 2EZ Bake Review 1


7. Simon Says: Challenges are for Jerks

Simon 1970

Simon was a memory game first introduced by Milton-Bradley in 1978. It goes to say without any exaggeration that it’s one of the best games that ever existed, true fact. The game was a test in brain function, visual retention, auditory recognition, and reflexes before Nintendo ever made you jump Mario over that pit.

The gameplay was simple, yet addicting- one of four colored arches lights up with a color. Along with that color is a corresponding sound. The lights and sounds play on repeat, adding a new one to the end of the sequence each time you complete it correctly. The longer your combo continues, the faster the game got, until it was a psycho-song reeling through your face and your hands flailed on autopilot. Eventually when you lost, the game gave you the buzz blare of death, letting you know you’re a fucking loser.

It was a great game.


When I was a kid in the 90s, I was got Simon for my 8th birthday. It was identical to the 1978 version. Over time, different incarnations of it appeared, ones that looked more and more extreme because that was the 90s- ski-jumping over a snowy cliff with a bottle of Frutopia in one hand and a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in the other.

But these were less like Simon and more like Bop-It, and it was a reality we accepted. The original disappeared into obscurity.


Until, that is in 2016 when this clone Simon son of a bitch appeared.

Simon 2016

It looked just like the classic game! It straight says “IT’S BACK!” It had all the original sounds, the original game play. The title as the 1993 Simon Champion was mine to reclaim!

Or so I thought.

This Simon is fucking terrible.

The buttons didn’t actually depress…like, press down. There was a sensor under the plastic that detected if you were there. And what happened once you kept the combo going and didn’t lose your way? Nothing. The sounds never sped up. What is the point of Simon if it doesn’t speed up? What is the point if you can’t actually push the buttons? This game was an official fuck heap and my childhood was buried in ash.


6. Operation Loses Its Buzz


Operation used to be the most nerve-wracking game in the history of childhood, but a makeover has made the pieces too easily grabbable and the slots too wide for those little metal edges to retain any of their original menace.

Here’s what the old ones used to look like, all smooth edges with no real pinchable areas. Huge flat surfaces or tiny slits. You always prayed for one of the bones because they were only ones that came out easy:

OG Operation.png

Here’s the new one:



Essentially, every piece but the clock has a built-in handle. There’s so many holes, curves, and sticks to grab onto. And those gummy pieces, it doesn’t matter how you go about picking those up. Squeeze hard enough and you’re good. They’re too malleable to pose a challenge.

Add to that the new pieces all being focused around gross out humor, and the new Operation is a big dud. The game now makes burping and fart noises matching the pieces you have to remove. You cannot turn these noises off. You can only turn them down a little bit. It is loud and obnoxious (from my parental point of view). People Magazine had the following thoughts about this reissue:

This new version takes the skill of the original game (like removing the funny bone, brain freeze and writer’s cramp) and puts a comical twist on it by having each body part represented by a (sometimes “gross,” according to my son) body sound. The sounds included Bird Brains with a tweeting sound, a Runny Nose with the requisite glop, Ringing in the Ear with a bell, Burp Bubbles, Bad Plumbing (with a flushing sound) and my kids’ favorite… Toxic Gas.  Word of warning: the body parts sounds seem to have appealed to the boys more than the girls.


Also, while researching this I had to Google “Operation fart snot.” I feel like that’s relevant.

Personally, I can’t even find the dumb gross out version my kids’ aunt bought them anymore (it’s apparently been discontinued, thank god). Other people shared my sentiment; here’s some reviews from the other update featuring headphones and junk.

Operation Review 2Operation Review 1


5. The Fisher Price Cassette Recorder Only Does One of Those Things (badly)

Fisher Price Cassette 1
Master! Master!

The first picture is the master.

Fisher Price Cassette 2

The one here is the 90s apprentice.

And this thing down below…is a pile of hot trash.

Fisher Price Cassette 3

The new reissued version of the Fisher Price Cassette Recorder is leaving many people on Amazon…confused, to say the least.

Fisher Price Cassette Q_A.png

This new toy is like a bait and switch! It prances around proudly, declaring itself a Cassette Recorder…only to not be able to use cassettes. And why would it? I mean, you can’t even find tapes at the 99 Cent store now. What would be the purpose of having one here? But how else am I supposed to play my Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Brother For Sale LP? 

So, in addition to not being able to record on real cassette, only the most awesome invention ever made, this toy’s microphone apparently doesn’t function correctly. The audio is reported as scratchy, bad quality, and there’s a sound that comes from the microphone, maybe feedback? I searched for how long of a recording the chip can hold, and I couldn’t find an answer.

The original Podcast maker

But if it’s anything like my kids’ other recording toys, like Judy Hopps’ carrot from Zootopia, it’s probably 30 seconds. 30 sad, rushed, pathetic seconds to sing your heart out into a shit-searing microphone.

Zootopia carrot

For many, it might be their only chance to be a star.

But remember- OG cassette tapes held 90 minutes. Do you know how many personalized Radio Shows or Captain’s Logs or whatever the fuck that is?



4. Transformers Removes the Mystery (And Effort)


Back in the day, Transformers were like freaking puzzles. If you wanted to turn your car into a robot and vice versa, you had to work for it. Now, our kids have thin, flimsy, one-step Transformers that pretty much just open up to reveal a fully formed, no-assembly-required robot inside. Kotaku’s sentiments sum it up. Take the Optimus Prime One-Step Changer, for example. For $9.99, you or your children can enjoy a truck with arms coming out of the cab. You know, like all modern trucks, except for the arms. At least the $9.99 Lockdown One-Step looks like a car. A loose, flimsy car with a robot underneath it.

New Transformer.jpg
He won’t come out. He’s in his dark place.

And really, the reviews for these things don’t paint a better picture. For a franchise that has spawned several TV shows, multitudes of toy lines, animated films, and huge live-action blockbusters, you’d think the toy creators would give the new action figure some more love.

Transformer car review

But maybe it’s better that these lazy, one-step monstrosities are the majority. The few multi-step Transformers left (like the ones my son has) are so shoddily made they don’t transform right. My husband literally had to shave plastic off one just to give the pieces room to rotate.

Transformers review 1


3. Marvel’s New Action Figures Are as Stiff as Old School Barbie Dolls


And that’s saying something.


The joints simply refuse to move. I’m not sure what it means that we’ve progressed to functional, realistic(ish) Barbies while the action-figures have regressed so far. New Barbie has fluid, flexible legs a freaking gazelle. New Barbie could kick the Marvel action figures asses and never even chip a nail.

I don’t anything about toy design, but you can clearly see in this photo of the Marvel Secret Wars toy line from the ‘80s that the shoulder joints sit on top of the torso:

Marvel Toys 80s.png

While the 2000’s Marvel Legends figures seem to have deep-set shoulder joints that are semi pushed into the torso:

Marvel Toys 2000.png

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that matters.

This is such an issue that it got tons of tutorials on YouTube showing you how to loosen up your action figures.


2. Playdoh Plus is like shit-smearing frosting


There are fewer toys more important to a kid’s early taste buds, I mean, senses as Play Doh. It’s bright, colorful, salty, and it has that familiar scent that truly perfumes your childhood. It’s an American staple that has origins from the 1930s, apparently as a wallpaper cleaner. Fortunately for all children, namely me and my garbage mouth, Play Doh is non-toxic and wheat based.


But more recently, a new Play Doh product touted as “Play-Doh Plus” has hit the scenes. The containers are tiny and half full. It’s more expensive than its regular counterpart. It also supposedly never dries.

And really, that’s not always a good thing.

Play Doh plus is a light and foamy product, perfect for the frosting on those Play Doh cakes your kid learns how to make by watching endless hours of weird toy reviews on YouTube. Now, while other parents might complain about Play Doh drying out, I think it’s the best part of it. When things dry out, you can vacuum them. And when they’re wet and sticky, they don’t. And with the foam shit sludge heap that is Play Doh Plus, its light airiness just smears onto the furniture because your kids think you’re a hack parent and won’t listen to you in spite of your protests and begging and bribing and constant buying of ice cream, and…


1. Kinetic Sand is the Worst Touchable-Toy that ever existed


And lastly, on the topic of Play Doh and touchable-molding-fun time-toys, let’s take a look at some other crafting toys that have graced the market. Back when I was a kid, I loved Nickelodeon Gak because it was like slime, had a firm bite (yes, I’m the worst, let’s move on), stunk like chemicals, and farted. Naturally, the farts were the best part.


Floam followed, a foamy slime substance, and Moonsand wasn’t long after. My parents would deliver the goods, send me outside, and my foamy-fart-gloppy-gross toys would have a great time together.

Hell, I saw this at the store 2 days ago and my childhood was resurrected

But my kids don’t listen to me. And then I found a product called Kinetic Sand. It was filled with fun-time promises that it would stick to itself and never dried out.

It lied.

Not only does this trash dribble all over the place, but it sticks to my kids’ HANDS. So, simply put, I have a mess on the table, it drips all over the floor, sticks to the chairs they were sitting on, and devours my floor with a hatred worse than a starved dog at a Sizzler Buffet.

No, but really…

I hate Kinetic Sand.


Loryn and Carolyn are on Twitter, and you did not see them playing with their dolls again, sir.

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  1. Great article. I too got the “new” Peanuts snow cone maker for my kids. The secret to this reboot is to put a little sugar in your ice cubes before you freeze them. That way they’re softer and shave easy. Still get ice/water all over and the crank is fitted too close. I shred the skin off my thumb knuckle every time.

    Most of the complaints I have about toys these days is due to a lack of one thing: Die-cast metal. Everything is plastic now. I’m sure it saves the toy industry billions and ensures the toys will break faster causing you to buy more of their junk.

    My kids love kinetic sand. They have their own dedicated table to play with it, and yes, we have to bust out the vacuum every single damn time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What an awesome comment! Thank you so much for reading it. I should probably send my kids outside with it or something, or get a little container or table. But man. It just sticks to everything. And thanks for the sugar water heads up! That’s super smart.


  2. What a gem of an article! The Fisher Price garbage is, indeed, a glorified mic/pen but at least the pen can write! Nothing works on this thing. The play back is terrible and the controls make no sense. Thanks for the scoop!

    Liked by 1 person

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