So last week we took a look at this year’s hot holiday toys and it got me to thinking about what the big toys were from my childhood. Which toys stood out to me, upwards of 20 years after the fact? This week we are going to talk about those toys.

First of all, I decided to rule out video games. I’m sure there are several articles worth of material when I eventually relive the hours of my childhood that I spent transfixed in front of my NES, Genesis and Playstation, but this article is about toys. Basically, a lot of the video games I loved as a child I would still love as an adult, this is not (entirely) true of toys.

The criteria for something landing on this list was simple. It had to be a toy that I distinctly remembered being a “favorite” of mine, while also not being something that everyone had. Yes, I loved Optimus Prime, but who cares about another article about Optimus Prime? Without further ado, let us take a look at what rocked my world before the idea of a tiny robot droid being controlled by a smart phone could even be conceived.

playskoolOld School Playskool Space Station

Click link if you want to buy this thing from someone on Etsy

This was probably the second hardest one of these things to even find a picture of (keep reading next week for the hardest!). This playset was pretty sweet. Not even all the vehicles are in this photo and there were a few more guys that came with it. I distinctly remember at least 2 yellow spacemen, 2 red spacemen and one blue alien and one green alien. I think there might’ve been another yellow guy in the mix too. Anyways, it’s hard to see but if you look carefully, you’ll see two orange little cranks on the space station. One of them spun the laser turret around at the top, and the other made an elevator (that you can’t really see) go up and down.  Stuff that moves in a playset is always a huge bonus.

The vehicles that I can remember (not all of them in the picture) were a little red moon buggy, the yellow thing (pictured) and a little spaceship that all were one seaters.  The UFO (pictured) was a two seater and had like retractable legs. There was also the best vehicle which was a little moon rover tank/van thing which sat two up front and had two gull-wing doors in the back which could each hold a little guy. The little tank/van had no guns and could fit the entire crew, I usually decided that this was a science and reconnaissance vehicle. I had watched enough Star Trek to know that science and reconnaissance were why humans were in space, even if laser battles were the harsh eventuality.

I’m not 100% sure what the ideal age range was on this thing but I remember playing with it well into the later years of elementary school. Even though it was clearly meant for younger kids, the presence of lasers and missiles made it last much longer. I also, only now, realize how weird it was that a playset for like 5 year olds had lasers and missiles. I remember that the main game was almost always “fight the aliens” since the aliens have their UFO (also with lasers) and the humans have their spinning gun turrets. I doubt you’d see that sort of thing nowadays.

The other cool thing about this was that because it was so big (and sturdy) I got use of it it with other figures too. They didn’t fit as well as the Playskool figurines, but this thing doubled as Hoth for Star Wars and probably even had Star Trek figures running around it in later years.

While I’m at it, isn’t it messed up that Playskool has a spelling mistake in their name? What the actual hell Playskool?

Bucky O’Hare Toad Croaker

Click link if you want to buy this thing from Amazon

What the hell was going on with Bucky O’Hare? Here’s a video of the intro song:

The fact that I just watched that video and cannot remember any of the lyrics or melody beyond the fact that they say “Bucky O’Hare” a bunch of times. A kids show without a memorable song is doomed right from the get-go.

toad croakerThis one is a little messed up as I honestly don’t remember a damn thing about the show. Judging from that video it was kind of a anthropomorphized version of Flash Gordon and the bad guys were all toads or frogs or something. So why did I have some of the toys and why did this toy stand out in my childhood?

First of all, the reason I had the toys (or the reason I asked for the toys) was that they had big heads and were kind of stocky. I wasn’t allowed to have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys because they were too violent (even though I had a space set with lasers on it as a toddler). The Bucky O’Hare toys were not quite the same size, but were much closer in scale to the TMNT toys than the other stuff out there. Plus they were all animal anthropomorphic guys, so blended in with the Turtles pretty well. So when it came time to play TMNT with my friends I would have something to scale and not be bringing 3/1/2 inch Kenner Star Wars figs like a chump.

Kid brains are weird.

Then, there was this space ship. The Toad Croaker. You see it in the intro video stomping down on some toad minion and making a squish/croaking sound. The toy had a rubberized bladder/whoopie cushion thing on the bottom that made a pretty sweet croaking noise when you squashed it down.

It was pretty easy to imagine it squashing (read: killing because we’re kids and kids are all sociopaths) bad guys with that sound effect. Instead of make spit fueled squishing noises with our mouths, this toy did that for us.

That alone makes the Toad Croaker stick out as a classic from my childhood. Again, I have no freaking idea about what the show was about, but this toy earned it’s spot on this list for being instantly memorable when I thought about my old toys.

Tune in next week when I complete this list with 2 more toys from my childhood and a bonus toy from Sarah’s!

Keith does all sorts of things here on, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.