If you’re of a certain age, born anywhere between the early 80s and 90s, there’s a range of toys that just explode in your brain with raw nostalgia. We’re sure this is true for every generation, but those late 80s/early 90s toys just have something special about them. Whether is was their awkward use of new technology or absurd coloring schemes, we can’t deny just how cool they seemed when we were little kids!
What we were surprised to see, though, was just how many of those toys and games were also available in Japan! So come with us on a trip down memory lane and find if your favorite childhood distractions made the list, and discover just how many of these things kids in Japan were also completely enamoured with.
Starting with what may have been the simplest toy of the decade, these rubber poppers apparently made it to Japan as well! Oh, the hours of boredom they barely killed. As simple as the poppers were, Japanese Internet users certainly haven’t forgotten them…
Oh! I remember these!
When I first saw the picture, I they were, um, those things. [Editor’s note: You can say “condoms” on the Internet.]
I think I still have some at my parent’s house!
Now, the Slinky isn’t exactly an 80s toy–they were invented and first sold in the 1940s. But even though the plastic Slinky was developed in the 1970s, there’s something decidedly 80s/90s about the rainbow colors (remember Lisa Frank?). And Japanese commenters’ love of the bouncy toy hasn’t diminished over the last few decades, it would seem.
Oh, man, these made even stairs fun!
Whoever first thought of these was a genius!
People would always buy these on field trips. And someone would inevitably break one!
Now, this one is definitively 80s with its proto-video-game design. In case you don’t remember the Tomy Racing Turbo, it was a “driving simulator” for young children. If you’ve never seen one in action, here’s a YouTube “review” of the 25-year-old device by a slightly curmudgeonly British man.
It seems that Japanese netizens remember it much more fondly.
Oh, I had the motorcycle version! So many memories!
Ah, I played with this sooooo much!
Ah, Slime! This, along with Gak and all the other creepy “compounds” sold by Nickelodeon, had to be one of the most bizarre toys ever sold. What exactly we did with any of it, we no longer remember, but it must have been fun…
This stuff stunk so bad.
I totally used to have a bucket of this!
Game Boy…Shampoo? If you look closely at the “screen,” you’ll probably instantly recognize this type of toy. If you don’t remember, these were “water games,” where you would press the buttons to push blasts of water up and send rings spinning. The goal was supposedly to get the rings on the hooks, but as far as we know, no one could ever pull it off. You can still get them in various form factors on Amazon .
I was so addicted to this game!
I loved playing with these things in the bathtub.
I knew someone would mention these! Ah, the memories!
Fishing: Every child’s favorite pastime! While most of us probably didn’t actually enjoy going out and sitting for hours waiting for something to nibble on a hook, these magnetic fishing games did provide a fun distraction on a dreary Saturday afternoon. We’re just surprised that they showed up in Japan, too!
Of course, no list of toys would be complete without at least one toy gun. These pop guns were both incredibly fun and a great to drive your parents insane!
Oh, these things!
My uncle used to use these to scare off crows!
Before Madden and other sports video games, there were these wonderful mechanical games with push-button levers and dubious rules to entertain the less athletically inclined of us. Of course, the plastic covers would always get dented, adding to the randomness of the game. We’re not sure if that was a “bug” or a “feature.”
Japanese commenters had mixed memories of these mechanical games, and we can’t say that we blame them.
That baseball game was abnormally boring.
I played these games to death!
For those of us who couldn’t get our hands on a Game Boy, these LCD games were the next best thing! Though “next best thing” doesn’t necessarily mean that they were “good” by any stretch of the imagination…
It’s certainly eye-opening to compare these old handhold games to the beautiful graphics available on something like a PS Vita now.
On the other hand, we’re not sure how much motion-control gaming has advanced since this fishing game. The graphics have improved, but is this what the Wii fishing game controller was based on? Japanese netizens remember the devices fondly though.
I would always see kids playing this at baseball games–they’d never even glance at the field!
Yeah, this was pretty fun.
This game certainly brings back hazy memories, doesn’t it? Though we don’t think we’ve ever seen a complete set in real life! Japanese netizens haven’t forgotten either.
I remember getting these and playing with them in the park with my mother.
I spent so many hours playing with these by myself…
If you were a young kid on a budget with a love of airplanes, these rubberband-powered gliders were simply the best toy ever! Until they crashed into a lamp and the wing snapped in half. Well, it was fun for a few minutes, right? Japanese Internet users seem to have conflicting memories of these toys.
I skipped buying candy at the candy store so I could get one of these! It didn’t fly very well though.
Oh, these guys flew so far!
I remember these! Watching the propellers spin was surprisingly fun.
Though kite-flying has a long and noble history throughout the world, it’s not exactly a popular hobby with kids these days. Even so, for a brief moment in our childhood, this was the thing to do. Thankfully, we now have Angry Birds.
But come on, admit it, you’re going to run out and buy one this weekend after seeing these pictures!
And who can forget when our schools were infested with these perpetually dying tamagocchi? No matter how carefully you tried to care for them, you’d inevitably forget and then they’d die. A cruel but necessary life lesson, we suppose.
When my father won these at pachinko , I remember wondering what the hell they were…
Did you know that Pogs were eventually banned in many schools in the US and in Europe since the game so closely resembled gambling and resulted in so many playground fights? As weird as that is, we were even more surprised to learn that there was a Japanese children’s game similar to Pogs called menko which had existed since the Edo period and seems to have been one of the precursors to the 90s game. We guess Pogs weren’t quite the “flash in the pan” we thought they were…
I could get these to fly so high! And we’d get them with our candy too…
I still have like 200 of them. I wonder if I could get some good money for my special edition NBA pogs…
Whoa! Until I saw the picture, I totally forgotten about these!
Ah, nothing like stabbing your friends in the gut with a floppy rubber knife! The look on their faces was great…at least until they took the knife and stab and/or punched you back. “For fun,” we guess.
Ah, these dancing flowers were just the grooviest things in the world, weren’t they? Look at those sunglasses! They were about as useful as Billy the Big Mouth Bass . And yet we wanted them…
I have no idea why, but even to this day, I want one! I have absolutely no need for it though…
I just realized this, but we actually have one at home!
Lego was perhaps the greatest toy of our childhood. Those little blocks could become anything you imagined!
Those Lego pieces were the ultimate weapons.
Racing cars around these tracks was so much fun as kids. But now that we think about it, we can’t help wondering what the point was. It didn’t really take much skill to hold down the accelerator trigger!
I had one of these sets! It must have been towards the end of the 80s…
At some point between the Pogs, kite-flying, and hacky sack, yo-yos went from being a simple child’s toy to a serious skill to be mastered with the same badassery as doing kickflips off of sidewalks on a skateboard. Though yo-yo championships continue to this day, they haven’t really maintained their awesomeness, have they?
It’s almost a “traditional” game now, like kendama .
The Whoopie Cushion! It was less a toy and more an automatic detention device, but the look on your teacher’s face was totally worth it, right? Well, we never did anything like that, of course. No, definitely not. (Mr. Sato on the other hand…)
Naturally, you knew Pokémon would be on this list somewhere. Not many children escaped the 90s without at least knowing about this strange yet delightful Japanese game.
Of course, Japanese commenters remembered all of these toys fondly.
Yep, I had all of this stuff!
Haha, I knew someone would mention Pokémon!
Dragon Ball also simply had to be on this list! This show was, without a doubt, one of the biggest factors in getting so many people interested in anime over the last few decades. Its lasting impact on pop culture both inside and outside of Japan is nearly incalculable, even if Oprah has no idea what it is.
But perhaps the most surprising things on the list though were the candies! A walk down the sweets aisle of any grocery store or convenience store in Japan will yield almost nothing in terms of familiar treats. While you can find Snickers or Kit-Kat bars in Japan, good luck getting your hands on any Skittles, Nerds, or Gobstoppers–definitely the worst thing about living in Japan. So we were not expecting to see Japanese commenters getting nostalgic over Bubble Tape and Push Pops. But, oh, man, do these photos bring back some delicious memories!
Japanese netizens didn’t have much to say about these old candies, except for this fellow.
Only the rich kids could buy that gum!
Finally, the massive nostalgia festival ended with a few comments reminding us just how lucky we were–and how kind our parents must have been!
Looking at all these toys has got me all nostalgic, but at the same time, it’s made me realize how selfish I was asking my parents to buy all this stuff. I need to apologize to my parents. Maybe I’ll take them some food next time I visit.
I agree. Thank you, mama! Thank you, papa!
Sniff. These guys have the right idea. Be sure to say thank you to your parents!!
How many of these toys did you remember? Anything you think deserves a place on this list? Let us know!
Source and images: VIP Wide Guide