Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adorable Animal Toys of the 80s and 90s

vintage lps kitties

In any decade, cute cuddly animals are a surefire win with young children. Their inherent appeal is in their big expressive eyes, their huggable nature, and their covetousness-inducing inflated sticker price. Toy manufacturers know that these cuddly critters will inevitably send young children into the throes of toy store-aisle ear-plugging, breath-holding temper tantrums, the embarrassment of which would surely motivate our parents into purchasing the overpriced fuzzball.

These toys were no exception, with their manufacturers incessantly and successfully peddling these big-eyed plush animals at us with every commercial break on Nickelodeon or during Saturday morning cartoons. Many became bona fide fad phenomena, impelling us to race to our nearest Toys ‘R Us to become the first on our block or classroom to own one of these little guys. Though they varied in cuteness from brand to brand, ownership of any of these animal fluffies was sure to garner you some playground credibility.

Glo Worms

Is it a nightlight or is it a stuffed animal? Our clever friends at Hasbro showed us in 1982 that these two kid-friendly items were not necessarily mutually exclusive. Glo Worms served handily as both, with their plush bodies and enormous hard plastic light-up faces. They were cute, they were comforting, they were a little creepy.

Pound Puppies

Pound Puppies were such a phenomenon in the 80s and 90s that the original toy spawned an entertainment franchise, boasting an animated television show and feature-length film. Pound puppies had, unsurprisingly, a hangdog look to them--after all, they had presumably been languishing in the pound, hoping to be adopted. In the show, however, the puppies were far from helpless--they worked as a team to solve complex problems at the Puppy Pound. You know, just like in real life.

Puppy Surprise

Even after so many years, this toy still strikes many of us as a bit disturbing. The concept is cute--your mother dog comes with an indeterminate number of puppies, so it’s an actual surprise when you slit ‘er open. On the practical side, though, it gave many young children a premature and medically inaccurate perception of childbirth. For a year or so, I thought that we simply reinserted babies back into their mother’s bellies for convenient storage at clean-up time.

Littlest Pet Shop

As the name implies, the Littlest Pet Shop toy line chronicles the daily lives and activities of the littlest pets in their very own shop. The original 90s versions came with all sorts of fun features, translating into numerous small parts for us to swallow or lose throughout the course of play. Some of the more novel versions came with fun features like rubber stamp pawprint functions or head bobbling abilities. As with most reimagined toy lines, the 2000s version released by Hasbro are decidedly more freakish-looking.

My Little Pony

My Little Pony was a veritable phenomenon in the 80s and 90s, with young girls everywhere scrambling to own one of these sparkly-haired plastic horses. They appealed to little girls’ sensibilities in all the basic ways: pastel colors, glitter, brushable hair, and horses. If you’ve ever met a little girl, it’s pretty clear Hasbro cooked up a fail-proof concept.


Who knew a parachute loaded with poly-fill could be so cuddly and lovable? The ad touts Puffalumps as “like marshmallow pillows, you can never squeeze too tight...You can’t hug a Puffalump wrong!” Well, that’s a relief. I constantly worry I’m showering my stuffed animals with affection in all the wrong ways. Whew.


I’m not sure if these can technically be classified as animals, but they are stuffed, so they’re going on the list. I had endless Popple paraphernalia in my youth, including some straight-to-VHS videos and a pop up tent. These ambiguous teddy bear-esque stuffies came in all varieties, including rock star and sports lover. A little something for everyone, you might say.

Care Bears

Care Bears were originally created as card characters by American Greetings, but their popularity led to their release as a toy line and later as popular animated characters. Each Care Bear boasted a tummy symbol, indicating exactly what it was that put the “care” in their status as official Care Bear.


Picture the characters from Littlest Pet Shop. Now stuff those adorable little critters into a too-small tank or cage. Smooshies may not have taught humane treatment, but I imagine our parents liked the compactness and easy storability.

Beanie Babies

Beanie Baby's 3

Of course, no list of 90s stuffed animals could be complete without at least a cursory mention of the market-cornering fad-maker itself, TY’s Beanie Baby line. They served no function and weren’t even all that cuddly, but somehow TY convinced us these pellet-filled creatures had inherent value. They didn’t, of course, and the investment-minded among us 90s children are undoubtedly kicking ourselves over the poor market growth of our collections in recent years.


Samantha Muse said...

Hahaha great post! My 400+ Beanie Babies are still chilling at my parents house so I don't have to worry about what to do with them. I have seen people empty them of the pellets and insert squeakies to make dog toys. Really expensive (depending on which one) dog toys.

Melanie's Randomness said...

Ohh I was a Pound Puppy & Beanie Baby girl. The glo-worm thingies still freak me out a lil bit. My little ponies too ruled my childhood! =)

Caitlin said...

I remember going to the store with my sister to get a puppy surprise. I spent a good 15 minutes surveying each box, trying to figure out which one looked the fattest. I only got three babies. However, I found a baby bunny (from a bunny surprise, not an actual rabbit) and went ahead and stuffed that sucker in my momma dog.

Also, I had a pet hedgehog I named Popple because those things totes look like hedgehogs.

Lauren said...

Oh my word, you will NEVER know how much I loved Care Bears!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I’m not ashamed to say I was an avid Beanie Babie collector. And may or may not have gone to a Beanie Babiie convention, haha!!!!!

Bibliotender said...

My brothers and I loved Popples but not because they were cute. Because they could be rolled into a ball and launched around the room as a fury projectile. When we broke something, which happened often, the Popple would be quickly transformed in to an 'animal' and we could claim that wern't throwing balls in the house...The excuse never worked even though we tried often.

Lil' Woman said...

I had the Gloworms, Carebears, and Pound Puppies!! :)

Sadako said...

I loved me some Littlest Pets! Wish I still had mine.

Beth said...

Remember how some stores had a limit on how many Beanie Babies each person could buy? I remember hearing about adults who put on disguises just to go back in and get more.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, the only toy you listed that I didn't own were the Popples. I ended up with over 100 Beanie Babies, and I had sooo many Littlest Pet Shops (which look kind of scary nowadays, IMO).
Oh and I had the pink Puppy Surprise! She only had 3 puppies though, I remember being pretty disappointed...
I also remember Puffalumps, Pound Puppies, My Little Pony, and Care Bears (basically EVERYTHING you mentioned, haha), but I only had like one of each; I didn't collect them.
Awesome post!!

beanditch said...

My two favorite toys as a kid were my Popple and my Nosey Bear. You pushed her on stomach and her balloon nose inflated. Please tell me that I'm not the only person who had, or remembers, Nosey Bears!

Anonymous said...

You are such an annoying little cunt. Why don't you get a real job and quit spending all your time reminiscing about the 1990s? It was shitty decade, and from what I can tell, you're a shitty person. You're typical of people from your generation. You make me fucking sick.

miss jille said...

Smooshies! I still have some of those

beanditch: I totally had a Nosey Bear, it ruled

Lauralee said...

Whoa lots of comments. Love this post. So far, my fave. Awesome! I loved the little tiny toys and pound puppy and my little pony. Never had a puffalump or popple though.

Molly said...

I totally owned most of the toys listed here. I still have a bunch of beanie babies (I still like them dammit) and am collecting vintage LPS toys. I hate the new ones...the bobblehead look is so creepy.

Iris said...

Love this post!!! Brings back memories.

These are the toys I had from this post: Glo Worm, Puppy Surprise, Littlest Pet Shop (more than one), My Little Pony (at least 2), Popples (2), Care Bear, and Beanie Babies.

Remember when McDonald's had the tiny Beanie Babies as Happy Meal toys?

The 90s had the BEST toys ever!!

Bec said...

Pound Puppies (and Kitties!) forever! Also My Little Pony, which I love despite not really caring about horses...Bring on the brushable hair!

Anonymous said...

My parents bought me a puppy surprise, hoping I'd get five puppies - I didn't, it only came with three. My dad was like "I bet none of them have five puppies", until one of my little friends got one with five puppies!

Nikki said...

My Dad just decided it was time to clean out his attic. He pulled out everything and wants us to go through it all. My Sister and I found all our pound puppies, carebears, my oopsy daisy doll. It was crazy how many dolls we had. I can't belive my Dad kept it all. Even our pretty pony castle!

Anonymous said...

I never got into My little pony. My bff bought it and it was so boring. I couldn't role play with it like I could with barbies.
"this hay is really delicious."
"you're right Gallop."


lissa said...

I remember care bears and my little pony - it seems like so long ago but they're still so darn cute

The World of Lurlene Mcdaniel said...

i was wondering if you can do a blog post on sailor moon? it was a very popular anime in the 90s way before pokemon and is still popular to this day?

Anonymous said...

I concur with the recommendation on daying a post on Sailor Moon. I remember watching that every single morning before going off to school in the mid-90s when I was about 9 years old. Another favorite before-school cartoon was Bobby's World and Sonic the Hedgehog.

for the love of pictures said...

I loved Pound Puppies, Popples and Care Bears so much - both the toys and the cartoons :)

Dani said...

Care bears and My Little pony- best toys ever! Besides for the Kid sister of course.

I can't get the puppy surprise song out of my head...

Anonymous said...

My friend had one of those freaky Glo Worms and I had blocked it from my memory... until now. :(

Meanwhile, I'm 25 and I'd still throw a tantrum in Wal-Mart and totally embarrass my mom and get sent to my room for the rest of the day for some My Little Ponies.

Company said...

A blast from the past, that's what your post has done, it really got me thinking about the good old days when we were content with action figures and stuff toys costing a few dollars, it was just us and our imaginations to run wild and free to provide entertainment to no end and kid's today... get them a $500 console and they still want more....

Company Formation

danarchy said...

I loved my kitty surprise but hadn't thought of it in years.

Also, I loved my my little pony. She was dark purple, sparkly, and a Pegasus. Super awesome.

I still have my Share Bear too. But she's really more grey than purple.

Ryan said...

I love all the 90s blogs. keep it up. I followed

Anonymous said...

I've been reading for a long time. My first time at the site, I thoroughly exhausted the archives in my constant search for nostalgia. When I was done and there was no more 90's to take in, I quietly went my own way for a few months. You may remember me posting under the moniker "Daily Anonymous" because my it was my intent to reply daily. However, my phone had other ideas, and decided to stop being able to post. Anyways, I said it before, and I'll say it again: do an article on Reboot! It had such incredible satire, and it was pretty much the first CGI cartoon to be succussful.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, I still have a plush Lionheart from Care Bears at my mom's house.

Sarah P said...

SMOOSHIES! I had a smooshie dog and I LOVED it, but I forgot all about it until just now!

I also had a lot of littlest pet shop toys, and was so sad the first time I saw the newly issued kind.

I also always wanted a Puppy Surprise toy, but didn't want to get stuck with one of the three-puppy ones. I wanted the ones with huge litters!

Elizabeth said...


I actually had that Littlest Pet Shop cat with kittens, too. The kittens mouths and mother's tummy had magnets, so they would "nurse" automatically.

I don't think that would stimulate many children these days.

You know, unless they ate it and blogged about the experience.

John said...

No more updates on this blog for almost 2 months... ?

Sad that it's gone :-( It was my favourite reading material in the morning before I got off to work.

If this is indeed the end, would you mind putting a decent goodbye to all your loyal readers? Thanks for all those great posts!

Lora said...

hey you. it's been a long time since you posted. I hope you're okay.

thinking of you.

tracy said...

Such a great blog. I hope you decide to continue with it. So many good blogs of late have been abandoned. Please let us readers know either way. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

OMGosh! I had the kitty surprise! i loved it!!! awww. this is too funny!



Robin said...

wow I just found your blog. and I'm totally diggin' it! loved the glow worm and beanie babies - hmmm worthless or soon to be collectors item?....

from 20sb 'WeLoveComments' Group

sample said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
petite hermine said...

Ah, the 90s. I used to watch Care Bears all the time! I must have seen every episode. Btw, found you through the 'WeLoveComments' Group. :)

Katerina said...

What a fun blog! So many memories

Katerina from

Fashion said...

i like your all post very interesting and nice working
shoes uk

Fourra said...

nostalgia nostalgia, thx for the share man

Ariel said...

Good God, I feel old! haha
~Ariel at http://adreamersdaze.blogspot.com

Amber Blue Bird said...

oh my goodness i heart your blog, so many memories!

Sofie said...

check out my blog if you want :)


Dr. Krystal said...

Aaaw, I remember all of this stuff! I miss being a kid in the 90's!!!!

Kevin said...

I really liked your blog. This was interesting. Keep it up.

Megan Angela said...

Love this post! I had at least one of all of these! The only ones I still have now are my Glo Worm and a huge, plush Care Bear. Seeing all these again makes me so nostalgic.

Does anyone remember the Crimp n Curl My Little Ponies? I loved mine!

Also, glad to see you are back and picking up the blog again! Can't wait to see what is next!

Jennifer M. said...

Ooohh Glo Worm! Pound Puppies! Care Bears! My Little Ponies! I miss the 80's sometimes. ;) Toys/cartoons were so much better back then. Sometimes I feel sorry for kids today, not having the cool things we had as kids.

Claudia said...

This is Perfect Children Toy. Thanks For Sharing . :)

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Artisan Em said...

Does anyone remember a toy that was a plush bear with a short-knap, velvety coat – I think it was a solid pastel color, maybe pink or purple or yellow or something – that, when immersed in either cold or hot water, it changed colors? May have become a mixed set of pastel colors... or I think it changed into another solid color depending on the water temperature, and you could make it mixed yourself by putting different parts of it in different temperatures... Anyway, I had one, I loved it, and I have no idea what the heck it was. I haven't been able to find them online! If anyone knows, they can email me at e_micetro(at)yahoo. Much appreciated!

JenniferBelanger said...

I wanted puppy suprise so bad

iheartkatamari said...

Oh, I just LOVE the Pound Puppies! That commercial is so sweet. :)

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