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Boomer Fad Toys

10 toys that will take you back to childhood

  • Photo by James Worrell

    Dam Dolls!

    Regardless of what you call them — Wishniks, Leprechauns or Gonks — Troll Dolls are so ugly that they're cute. Created in 1959 by Danish fisherman Thomas Dam, they are considered one the most memorable and creative toys of the 20thCentury. Dam's dolls have been a fad for three generations — Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennial. Original Troll Dolls still hold their value, but the market has been flooded with knock-off versions. So, if you're trolling eBay for collectibles, beware.

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  • Photo by James Worrell

    Ask Again Later…

    Admit it. At some point you've based a life decision on a Magic 8 Ball answer. Marketed as the "Home Miracle Fortune Teller," the Magic 8 Ball hit toy stores in the 1950s. Its creator, Albert C. Carter, said he was inspired by his clairvoyant mother, who asked "spirits" questions to look deep into the future. You can still buy an 8 Ball or download the app on iPhone. So, will the 8 Ball be around for years to come? Signs point to — yes.

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  • Photo by James Worrell

    Sit, Rock, Sit!

    The idea for the Pet Rock came about in a bar — imagine that. Gary Dahl was tired of hearing his friends complain about walking, feeding and caring for actual pets. So he drafted a tongue-and-cheek manual, bought some cheap rocks and a '70s fad was born. Its popularity didn't last long, but the low-cost toy made Dahl a millionaire.

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  • Photo by James Worrell

    Stairs Not Included

    Long before Playstations and iPods, there was Slinky. Naval engineer Richard James originally invented the toy in the early '40s as a device for ships, but when he saw it's potential to move around and keep its shape he realized he was on to something big. He demonstrated his new invention in stores around Philadelphia. More than 300 million Slinkys — which incidentally is the official toy of Pennsylvania — have been sold worldwide, making it one of the most enduring toys of the 20th Century.

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  • Photo by James Worrell

    In the Mood

    Remember when life was easy, and you could tell how someone was feeling by looking at her ring? Sounds silly now, but back in the mid-'70s, people took mood rings seriously. The idea behind the ring is that the wearer's body temperature fluctuates depending on their mood — and that makes the stone change colors. Never mind that there's scant scientific evidence supporting that claim, people shelled out as much as $250 to rock one of these gems.

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  • Photo by James Worrell

    Barbie's World

    She is a three-time presidential candidate who's had more than 20 careers and her love affair with Ken has been fodder for the tabloids. Barbie Millicent Roberts is an American icon who has lasted through the generations. More than a billion of the dolls have been sold since its debut in 1959. Life hasn't always been great for Barbie. She came under fire from feminists for her unrealistic body image — which included a weight loss book that reads "Don't Eat!" — hatred of math and her tattoo phase in 2009. Nonetheless, girls still love Barbie.

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  • Photo by James Worrell

    Sweet Gadget

    Does the word Pfefferminz mean anything to you? Probably not, but that's the full name of Pez candy, a German confection that soared in popularity when Eduard Haas III introduced the first dispenser in the late '20s. Early dispensers looked like cigarette lighters, marketed as an alternative to smoking. Dispensers didn't have character heads until 1955. Some of the first characters included Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse. Since then more than 1,500 character dispensers have been created. The list includes Elvis, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Betsy Ross and Daniel Boone.

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  • Photo by James Worrell

    It's a Draw

    Etch-a-Sketch hit stores during the peak of the baby boom and has been an icon of that generation every since. Marketed as a drawing tool, Etch-a-Sketch took a simple plotter and turned it into a toy. Although, most users cannot create a masterpiece on an Etch-a-Sketch, many have unlocked the mystery of drawing more than just a simple box. Each year, art schools and enthusiasts hold contests that feature detailed and elaborate drawings.

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  • Photo by James Worrell

    A Pony Tale

    File My Little Pony under fad toys that never seem to go away. Originally introduced in the early '80s, these colorful, cheerful ponies may have been a favorite of your daughter — and chances are you were smitten too. Considered one of the most popular toys of all-time, My Little Pony is ingrained into popular culture, including movie and political satire references.

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  • James Worrell

    Full of Beans

    If you had a little girl in the early '90s, you may have bought one — or 50 — of these little treasures. A slick marketing plan and alleged resale value made Beanie Babies one of the biggest fads of the recent years. Creator Ty Warner kept the dolls cheap and simple. He retired dolls and kept their production limited, creating frenzy for the stuffed animals. At the height of Beanie Baby madness the FBI had to step in and crack down on counterfeiters.

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