This weekend, the Albany Art Museum opens a new exhibition titled Kid Stuff: Great Toys from Our Childhood.  I have this exhibit all sorts of built up in my head. I imagine it as some sort of Toys R Us time machine, where people can walk in and get their Lite Brite on. Although the description says there are plenty of hands-on exhibits, I doubt we will get to play with toys the way I want to. My excitement for the exhibit got me thinking about my favorite childhood toys. Being born smack-dab in the middle of the ‘80s (holler, 1985ers!), I think I really got the Hannah Montana (best of both worlds – get it?!) when it came to growing up in the 80s and 90s. So, here is my list of the best toys of my generation.
1.  Talking Teddy Ruxpin: The talking Teddy Ruxpin was both amazing and scary. Before pushing “play” on the little cassette tape deck in his back, he was a cuddly teddy bear. Then push the button and he is transformed into something you may find on a Saturday afternoon if you turn on the sci-fi channel. Teddy’s plastic mouth moves up and down, as his eyeballs slowly go side to side as he tells you a tale about one of his great adventures! (Why his eyes scan the horizon is unknown to me. Teddy did come about during the time of Fraggle Rock and the likes, so maybe pushing “play” gets him going on a bad acid trip? Does he think we really ARE searching for the treasure of Grundo?)

2.  Gak: Is it silly putty? No. Play-doh? Nope. It is slimy, slippery goodness that, until 1992, you could only play with if you were lucky enough to go on Double Dare. What did you do with Gak? Well, other than get yelled at because you got it smooshed all in the carpets … I’m not really sure. Squished it and made fart noises? And there were so many versions! Glow in the dark, smelly gak, magnetic gak … and floam. Remember floam? It was like gak, but bubbley and soft and microbeady (so descriptive!)?

Disclaimer: Not MY actual Staci.

3.  Cabbage Patch Dolls: Is the Cabbage Patch Doll the best doll in the history of toys? Of course. It kicks that pretentious American Girl’s butt! Those chubby cheeks! Yarn for hair! The concept was simple, yet children went insane for them! I remember the Christmas morning when I got my red-headed Anastasia (Whom I quickly renamed to Staci – with an “i” – by mailing out her name change form and receiving an official birth certificate in the mail, naming me as her sole guardian.)  Staci was joined by her Cabbage Patch Kids Surprise Newborn brother, David (named after MY baby brother. So original), the following Christmas. Staci and David are currently patiently residing in my parent’s basement, wrapped up tight and waiting for the day that I force them upon my own, human children.

4.  Tamagotchi: The Tamagotchi was not a child’s game. Only a tween could be trusted to take on such responsibility. Hatch the egg. Name it. Play with it. Put it to sleep. Check it’s happiness. Check it’s hunger. It was too much! TOO MUCH! Long before Angry Birds and iPhones, children were spending their recess playing catch with their digital pets. (I bought my Tamagotchi for $5 from a girl on the bus, the day before spring break. She got a new one and her 12 year old self just didn’t have the time to take care of both. Her hectic lifestyle was my gain!)

5.  Pound Puppies: I grew up in a time where toys were simple. The Pound Puppy was just a stuffed dog with floppy ears and big eyes. Like Cabbage Patch dolls, all Pound Puppies were different. Cooler, the bloodhound, was obviously the best (Pound puppies – let’s start pounding!). Honorable mention here goes to a similar toy, Puppy Surprise (how many puppies are there inside?!)

 There are approximately 100 more toys I want to talk about, so I’d also like to give honorable mention to Easy Bake Oven, Glo-Worms, Super Nintendo, Popples, Rainbow Brite, Wuzzles, Care Bears and Micro Machines. What else can you think of?