Showing posts with label Toys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toys. Show all posts

Monday, June 13, 2011

Seriously Strange 90s Children’s Games

As kids, most of us accepted children’s games at the face value at which their producers marketed them to us. It was rare that we would question the validity or normalcy of the games we saw advertised on TV. The catchy jingles encouraged us to beg our parents to buy them for us, and that was that.

Adult hindsight, however, tells a different story. More careful inspection of some of our most coveted highly-advertised games leads us to question the sanity of the people who produced them. There are more than enough crazy toys to mine several posts worth of material, so in this case, I’m just going to focus on the inane board games that by some miracle of bad judgment were green-lighted by R&D into full-scale production:

Grape Escape

I blame my adult love affair with wine with the subliminal messages garnered from endless hours of playing “Grape Escape” All that grape crushing was bound to latently inspire me somehow.The idea of Grape Escape involved constructing play-doh grapes and navigating them around a dangerous game board full of grape-splatting dangers and obstacles. The worst part was our little grapes had faces, so as soon as we’d grown attached to the anthropomorphic little fruit morsels, we had to bear the guilt and responsibility of smushing them with a steam roller.

Gooey Louie

Who exactly was buying this game for their children? When faced with a shelf full of wholesome and sometimes educational game, what kind of adult thinks, “Hey, we should get the nose-picking one!” I’m going to pin the purchases of this game on the so-called “fun uncles.” I can’t imagine many parents being incredibly enthusiastic to shell out $14.99 for their child to pull fake boogers out of a giant face.

Crocodile Dentist

Perhaps a regular game of human dentistry wasn’t quite exciting enough to warrant its own game (let’s face it, it’s no “Operation.”) Someone must have been pitching their dental work game pretty hard when someone around the brainstorm table said, “Hey, let’s make it a crocodile!” I can only imagine everyone else voiced their assent that crocodile dentistry was indeed more interesting than a regular cleaning and checkup and called it a day.

Mr. Bucket

If nothing else, this one deserves a spot on the list for its questionably PG-13 rated commercials. Did no one at Milton Bradley think it may be a potentially bad idea for Mr. Bucket to introduce himself and immediately bring up the balls that come out of his mouth? Seriously, Mr. Bucket, at least buy us a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal or something.

Potentially lewd commercial aside, this game is clearly a ploy by adults to exhaust children using tedious, repetitive tasks. You put balls in the bucket, the bucket pops out the balls, you put the balls back in the bucket...well, you get the idea.


Has no one ever heard of calling an exterminator? At the very least investing in one of those 25 cent traps from Home Depot. This whole setup seems like a needlessly complicated means of going after a single mouse in the house. When I see a mouse, I never think, “Hey, I should take everything in my house that’s not bolted down, create an elaborate marble maze involving plastic cheese, bathtubs, and falling baskets, and spend several hours waiting for the moon to be in the seventh house and for Jupiter to align to with Mars so the conditions will be auspicious for mouse trapping.” Well, now I might think of it, now that it’s all written out like that. But I’m still not going to do it.

Don’t Wake Daddy

In theory this one makes more sense than several of the other games on this list. The object of the game is to not awaken the snoring plastic father while trying to sneak to the kitchen to fix yourself a midnight snack. I can’t say for sure, but was this perhaps one of those extreme anti-obesity households where they secure the cupboards with padlocks at night?

Whatever the reason for the stealthy snack operation, the means of trying not to wake Daddy are certainly questionable. If you land on a space that indicates you must make a noise, you have to pound Daddy’s alarm clock repeatedly. Now I’m not a sleep expert, but I have to imagine that setting and continually re-setting an alarm clock is not the best way to ensure someone stays asleep.

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.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sticker Collections

Note: Sorry for the sporadic posts as of late, I've been in the process of moving and have had limited time for reminiscing. Fresh material is on the way, it might just pop up a little more slowly. Check back often for new posts!

In the 80s and 90s, no single possession could rocket a child to the top of the elementary school social stratosphere quite like a thoughtful, well-balanced sticker collection. Whether kept on their original backings or stuck carefully within the pages of an attractive sticker book, these collections were some of the most coveted items one could own during our grade school years. A new sticker afforded its owner not only the thrill of a new belonging but also recess bragging rights to the latest in sticker trends and technology. An image of two kittens playfully wrapped up in a high top sneaker or a three dimensional googly eyed dinosaur was usually more than enough to earn you a spot at the cool table in the cafeteria.

If ever there was anything to which to trace the overabundance of perfectionism and type A behavior amongst children of the 90s, sticker collections have got to be one of the major culprits. Like other forms of collecting, forming sticker collections required patience, self-restraint, and the ability to enjoy something that both serves no use.

In order to maintain the pristine condition of our most prized stickers, it was critical to not touch or handle your collection too roughly; in short, it was necessary to treat them llike a signed first edition being brought to appraisal on Antiques Roadshow. Doing anything to compromise the alleged inherent value of the following items was the equivalent of social sticker suicide.

Lisa Frank

Lisa Frank were among the most coveted designs in school supplies during the 80s and 90s, so it’s no surprise her stickers were considered fairly high-end in the classroom trading market. The bright colors, whimsical designs, and schmaltzy characters turned Lisa Frank stickers into virtual currency for elementary school girls. Innumerable hours were lost to swooning over the cuteness of a panda wielding a paint-laden brush or unicorn leaping majestically across a rainbow. For the record, the current Lisa Frank designs are generally considered to be subpar and inferior to our colorful cuddly originals.

Scratch n' Sniff

I’ve been told technology yields progress, and I can imagine no greater example than the leap from ordinary, smell-free stickers to the odoriferous sensory explosion of a scented sticker. The patented technology gave us a simple two-step process to nasal bliss, executed as follows:
1. Scratch
2. Sniff
It was that simple. You saw a strawberry, you scratched a strawberry, you smelled a strawberry. Sticker technology at its most useful.


Textured stickers were also a popular addition to any collection, though their fuzziness often made it difficult to keep them in their original condition. Repeated rubbing wore down the fuzz, leaving us with bald puppies and hairless kittens. Tough break.

Puffy/Googly Eyes

Also a major contender in the textured category were the puffy and/or googly eyed stickers, giving us a decidedly creepy three dimensional experience that would not stop staring. I don’t care how functional it may seem to infuse a triceratops image with its very own googling eyeballs--no one wants that much shaky eye contact with a prehistoric sticker.

It’s a scientifically proven fact that children love shiny things and the existence of multiple dimensions, so it’s a no-brainer that we all went crazy over a shimmery combination of the two. These mysteriously three-dimensional holographic stickers sold in science museum stores and other such vaguely educational shops, ensuring that each trip there with our parents would inevitably end with an ear-plugging, breath holding, foot-stomping tantrum over these stickers.

Mrs. Grossman's

Andrea Grossman’s infinite wisdom and business savvy saw fit to sell her rolls of stickers by the yard, hence exponentially expanding their welcome additions to any child’s sticker collection in a single shopping trip. Featuring designs like cleverly posed animals and background scenery elements, Mrs. Grossman’s stickers could be arranged into scenes complete with storylines and characters. Posable stickers made for exciting Storybook Weaver-esque sticker book pages, shaping turtles, picnic baskets, and other assorted items into a coherent scene.


Fuzzy koala bears and sparkly rainbow fish? Where do I sign up? Glitter or texture made Sandylion an attractive addition to any well-rounded collection. With the right combination of shimmery dolphins and fuzzy ghosts, you could easily corner the market of your local underground sticker trade.

Sticker Books/Boxes

Of course, the most important element in any worthwhile sticker collection was a specially created (re: unnecessarily expensive) book or receptacle by which to transport it. After all, what good is a sticker collection if you can’t carry it around and show it off? You could choose to stick yours in a book with special non-stick pages or cut each sticker individually with its backing to ensure easy trading.

That said, actual sticking of the stickers onto surfaces such as notebooks and Trapper Keepers was generally frowned upon. Such behavior was the equivalent of supergluing a dollar bill to the front of your Yikes pencil case. Stickers were veritable elementary school currency, so improper usage was akin to destruction of of US-minted money--it may not have been illegal, but it certainly wasn’t acceptable usage.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gym Class Parachute Day

Ah, parachute day. Whether you were a budding star elementary athlete or one of the designated indoor kids, the parachute was a universally appealing gym class apparatus. Something about those glorious primary colors had the power to put children under some sort of enchanted parachute spell, mesmerizing them with its rhythmic movement and waves of red, blue, and yellow. Throw in the fact that we each had our very own handle and this was a participatory physical education dream. The responsibility was great, sure, but the excitement of playing a role in the billowing of the giant parachute was infinitely greater.

It just goes to show that it doesn’t take flashy or expensive equipment to delight a child and pique his curiosity. These parachutes were extremely simple in design and use, yet they rarely failed to entertain us during a vigorous physical education hour. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to label it as actual exercise, but maybe all that arm flapping gave us some sort of low-level workout. As long as it tired us out enough for naptime, our caregivers were more than satisfied.

Just in case you haven’t brushed up on your gym class parachute activities in a few years, here is a handy guide to some of the many magical games offered by this overhyped nylon bedsheet with handles.

Making Waves

Even the youngest Gymboreers can take part in this one, assuming they have the ability to grasp the handle and wave their arms maniacally. To create waves, all the children in class simply have to pick up a handle and shake vigorously. The parachute billows back and forth, the kids ooh and aah in amazement, and the teacher sneaks out back for a smoke.


I actually believe we may have called this maneuver “Mushroom Cloud,” but that’s probably just a tad too morbid to fathom for five-year old children. “Hey kids! Isn’t this just like an atomic explosion?”

In this exercise, all children have to obediently pull their handle up and over themselves to retain a bubble of air in the center. It’s like a little fort, only much more colorful and slightly awesomer. Plus all your friends are there. I kind of want to stage a Jellyfish right now, it sounds 100% preferable to a day at the office.

Variation: Washing Machine

Make a Jellyfish/Mushroom configuration, but allow the kids to shake crazily while inside. If it’s not realistic enough, feel free to put them in an actual washing machine.


Insert sports ball in center of parachute. Grab handles, shake like maniacs. Commence in delight at rubber balls popping in air. Repeat ad nauseum. Seriously, children never tire of this. You could do it forever.

Shark Attack

The details on this one varied from school to school, but the game universally included screams of bloodcurdling terror. Two children are selected as sharks, the equivalent of “It” in a game of tag. All the other children place their legs under the parachute as the sharks attempt to pull them under in Jaws-like attack mode. Good news is, once you were eaten, you magically became a shark who got to eat swimmers, too. You know, just like in real life.

Merry Go Round

This activity leads me to believe our teachers were fairly sadistic and all had a good laugh in the breakroom at making us dance like obedient trained monkeys. Everyone grabs the handles and the teacher calls out a movement, like “Skip!” or “Run!” The kids run wildly in a circle until they collapse in a pile of heavy-breathing exhaustion.

All Change/All Switch

Here’s a good way to check if your students know their birthdays or which letter of the alphabet begins their name. Make them all hold the chute tightly above them, then call out a command like “Everyone with June birthdays, switch!” The idea was to allow everyone to switch before the parachute fell, but there was always some kid without a June birthday who’d tackle the parachute to the ground before they had a chance to try. Jerk.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fisher Price Toy Kits

When you’re one of the big names in kid and infant toys, it’s pretty much up to you to make whatever products you please. A parking garage? A hospital? Sure! Why not? Kids will love it. What kind of kid didn’t grow up wanting to be a parking attendant or graveyard shift night nurse? It’s up to you as the idea people to make these dreams a playtime reality.

Fisher Price is the name behind countless well-known products such as Power Wheels and ViewMaster, but perhaps none as generically memorable as their innumerable well-populated toy sets. Whether through simulating annual medical checkups or churning out make-believe grocery store transactions on our semi-functional cash registers, Fisher Price made the mundane possible. While before we’d have to make do pretending our dollhouses were full service airports, with the endless options from Fisher Price we had the power to make that dream a highly detailed reality.

The company offered endless variations of playsets; to create a comprehensive list of 80s and 90s kits would take pages and pages. To spare you the computer screen eye strain, I’ve narrowed it down to a few of my personal favorites. If you don’t see your favorites, the comment section is yours for the reminiscing. Go nuts.

Little People

You’d think the real little people of the world would band together and protest this sad, round mockery of their existence, but apparently the comparison must not bother them much. Little People were introduced in the 30s in wood form and gradually adapted into the obese little roly polys we know today. They may not be the best healthy body type role models for children, but they’re certainly fun to race-roll down a hill.


When I think of settings that would make attractive children’s playsets, hospitals tend not to rank especially high on the list. Stretchers and wheelchairs are fun, sure, but it’s not always the most uplifting play environment. Some versions of the set even came with a dentist chair. Really, what kind of kid doesn’t love the dentist? It’s a failsafe feature.

Cash Register

Ah, provdingapplicable career skills. It’s always good to have a toy that doubles as on-the-job training for a low-paying career path. We may not have all aspired to be doctors and lawyers as children, but darn it, we could make accurate change.

Parking Garage

This is truly one of the most puzzling. What was the Fisher Price corporate creative room meeting like for this one? I’d like to imagine their staff was just driving around, writing down everything they passed, and turning them into mass-produced toys. “Parking meter! City park! Fire station! Cash store! The possibilities are endless!”

School Desk

Why should you have all of your fun at school when you can continue sitting quietly at your simulated school desk at home? Really, the excitement never ends. Whether it’s writing with chalk or arranging word builders, Fisher Price really knew how to strike a budding nerd’s fancy.


We all know how children love to direct air traffic and send the bomb sniffing dogs on suspicious flyers. With the Fisher Price airport, we as kids had our very own opportunity to simulate the tedious day-to-day action of air travel. The taking off and landing part could certainly be exciting, but all of that paging people with red courtesy phones could get a bit boring.

Medical Kit

Finally, the Fisher Price toy set for the ambitious child. From the stethoscope to the fake shot injector, the FP Medical Kit captured all of the things we as children hated about the doctor’s office and allowed us to impose these experiences on our unsuspecting friends. Most of them got the picture after the fortieth knee-jerk reflex test with that little plastic gavel, but it didn’t diminish our sense of fun at forcing them to sit still and wait patiently for their blood pressure reading.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

80s and 90s Kids’ Arts and Crafts, Part III

Welcome to the final installment of 80s and 90s Kids’ Arts and Crafts. For parts I and II, check here and here. Thanks again to everyone for your understanding on the intermittent posting over the next few weeks or so during my much-dreaded moving time. A psychology class once taught me that intermittent reinforcement is the most effective variety, so maybe my readership will consequently explode. All this time, I’ve been ringing my little Pavlovian nostalgia bell and bringing you to salivate for post reinforcement daily, when apparently you could have been twice as drooly had I only fed you memories a few times a week. Who knew?

This batch of crafts was especially contingent on reader suggestions, so thank you to everyone who contributed their misty water-and/or-crayon-colored memories of complicated kits and toys our parents used to shut us up for an hour or two. We may not have been creating great masterpieces, but they were at least enough to inspire temporary pride for minimal effort--the preferred combination for children with creative energy but little hopes of a professional future in the fine arts.

Lite Brite

I hadn’t previously considered this to be much of a craft, but after so many write-ins, it was clear it fits the bill. After all, if Magnadoodle and Etch-a-Sketch made the cut, there’s no reason to exclude the Lite-Brite on account of its transient nature. They weren’t lasting works of art, but they were sparkly ones.

The television commercials always showed children just like us creating elaborate patterns with the tiny bulbs, leading us to believe they held great artistic potential. When we got our very own Lite-Brite, however, it became clear most of them were working from the pre-made pattern punch-out sheets.

In case you haven’t yet gotten over the thrill of tediously placing tiny bulbs in pre-cut sockets, Hasbro online has a Lite Brite Simulator. Amazing, right? It’s just as painstakingly laborious as I remember, only in this version you have the option to print your works of virtual art. If you’ll please excuse me, I’m off to spend three hours clicking faux-lit dots into simulated slots.

Fantastic Flowers

As someone who owned this toy, allow me to attest to the fact it was exactly as fun as the commercial suggests. Using little-to-no artistic effort, you could punch out perfectly formed flowers, affix them to premade stems, and voila! Art. The paper it came with was scented, so your result were flowers that smelled like, well, scented paper. Pretty impressive nonetheless.

Craft Loops

In retrospect, these seem like a suspiciously-motivated ploy by parents to set up little potholder sweatshop operations in their very own homes. “Oh, here you go, Susie. Just take these loops and this little loom and weave Mommy some pot-holders. Unless you want to burn your fragile little hands on the tuna casserole dish next time. I know how you hated the blistering. So, you know, it’s pretty important you craft an 8 by 10 square from these little circles."


If this was still available through a simple TV offer in three easy payments of $9.99, you can bet I’d be dialing that 800-number and reciting my check or money order information. That commercial is incredibly convincing. Blouses! Belts! Boots! Denim jackets! If only I could find that denim baseball cap I bedazzled in my youth, my life could be complete. And sparkly!

This device was relatively simple to use, meaning that in the hands of the wrong person it could lead to some very dangerous non-industry regulated rhinestoning. While a mass-producing manufacturer of clothing realizes that 200 rhinestones on a single collar is a bit much, a bedazzler-crazed regular Josephina may think it’s a grand idea. Heavy, but grand. And, you know. Sparkly.

Shrinky Dinks

You cut ‘em, you bake ‘em, they shrink. Exciting, no?


Any of us who ever went to summer camp are more than familiar with lanyard craftsmanship. Literally the poor man’s friendship bracelet, these useless neon-colored heaps of flexible plastic served as keychains and nametag necklace holders.

We would take great pride in crafting a lanyard for a family member and then wonder why their grateful reaction seemed so strained. As adults, it’s clear to us now that it was because they knew that had to wear around this ugly piece of junk for at least a few weeks until we forgot we’d woven the eyesore.

Stained Glass/Suncatcher Kits

These things always seemed much cooler while still in their original packaging. The sample shown on the package was impeccable: a beautiful, uniformly sun-catching colored glass with excellent use of color. Our own work, however, was usually not quite so dazzling. It may have caught the sun, sure, but it blinded us with streaky, watered-down colored patches overflowing and bleeding into other areas on the suncatcher.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

80s and 90s Kids' Arts and Crafts Part II

Welcome back to another edition of 80s and 90s’ kids’ arts and crafts. For those of you in the States, I hope you had a nice long holiday weekend. To my international readers, I’m sorry you have to continually endure the assumptions that you care about the United States’ independence. My condolences.

Before we get to the good stuff, a quick note: You may notice the posts here at Children of the 90s becoming a bit more intermittent over the next couple of weeks. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. Well, actually the previous statement is completely false: I am going somewhere, though the move will take place in the real physical world instead of the virtual one. I’m in the midst of a housing to move to parts as of yet unknown and am thus fully consumed by the arduous task of hauling furniture and packing up boxes.

I’ve never been much for manual labor, so the inevitable strain on my delicate self is taking up valuable blogging time. For the next few weeks, I appreciate your understanding of our temporary on-again, off-again relationship. Believe you, it’s not you, it’s me. And my incredibly overstuffed apartment.

For now, though, let’s resume our stroll down memory lane into the world of 80s and 90s arts and crafts. Believe me, I would rather be doing any of these things--no matter how ultimately tedious--than packing up a few years worth of accumulated stuff. If I had a velvet poster to color in or a spin-art wheel to operate, you’d bet my progress would be slowed significantly. Not to mention my belongings would be far more paint-splattered, though be fair it would be in an artfully random pattern.

Based on your much-appreciated write-in suggestions, here are a few more of the vaguely arts and crafts-related activities that held our attention as children. There’s still a part 3 likely coming your way, so feel free to add additional suggestions to the comments section or by email at

Scratch Art

For those of us lucky enough to have parents willing to spring $4.99 or so for a packet of pre-made scratch sheets, we enjoyed the hassle free scraping of surprisingly colorful designs from a black background. Others among us didn’t fare quite as well, opting to create our own scratch boards from, well, scratch.

Doing so involved the arduous task of filling a full page with random colored patches and using an entire black Crayola crayon to do you color-cover bidding. Your hand and arm would be incredibly exhausted from the whole ordeal, but at least you were able to reap the reward of some sweet vibrant etching.

Velvet Coloring Posters

I passed one of these at CVS the other day and found myself fighting the urge to purchase it and customize my very own velvet portrait of a unicorn galloping whimsically across a full arch rainbow. Despite my knowledge as a grownup that these posters are extremely tacky, there’s something so tempting about embarking on an endless and time-consuming velvet poster coloring project. Plus they’re velvet. Velvet! That stuff comes across as pretty classy to a seven-year old.

Ironable Perler Beads

We spent many, many hours in my house tediously placing plastic beads a millimeter in diameter each onto flat bumpy molds. Whoever thought these up was either a genius or incredibly sadistic, depending on your views on occupying a child with a mindless task for multiple hours at a time.

The molds came in different shapes and could produce different designs using the multicolored beads. Simply cover, iron, and ta-da! A piece of useless junk. But hey, it was your piece of useless junk. There’s a difference.

Spin Art

Just in case you were looking for a way to make painting messier and more airborne, you’re in luck: someone else has already come up with it and mass-marketed it. There actually used to be a professional Spin-Art center at our local mall, but I’m guessing the availability of allegedly easy-to-use at-home kits put them out of business.

The process was simple but undeniably attractive to mess-hungry children. You put a piece of paper on the spinner, activated the motion, and squirted various paint colors in its general vicinity as it spun. It was like a maxed-out version of the Spirograph: no skill required, guaranteed to create interesting artful symmetry.

Friendship Bracelets
I recently caught an episode of How It’s Made featuring the hammock-making process that led me to believe I could someday take on a lucrative career as a hammock craftswoman. The reason? The countless hours I spent weaving embroidery floss into masterfully crafted bracelets and anklets. How else can we children of the 90s put to use our skill at creating patterns like tornado, chevron, and candy stripe?

If you have a solution, feel free to let me know--I’m actually in the market for a new career. I don’t have Friendship Bracelet Making as its own category on my resume, but I’m willing to work it in for the right professional macrame post. Really, let me know.

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