Where were we? When last we left our intrepid hero (me), we were taking a long trip down memory lane to find out what toys managed to really stick with me after all these years. What really did it for a kid from Montreal growing up in the 80s and 90s. Last week we talked about a Playskool Space Station that, despite being made for 3 year old’s prominently featured laser cannons as well as the Toad Croaker from Bucky O’Hare, which made a frog sound when you stomped it down on a flat surface.

Let’s see how far the rabbit hole goes.

fireball islandFireball Island from Milton Bradley

What in the holy hell is this? This game is worth 700$ USD now? That’s near a thousand dollars in my Canadian funny-money. My family owned this thing with all the pieces! I need to take a minute here knowing that I am now in the group of people who had a thing worth a nice amount of cash that ended up in the trash.


Ok. So Fireball Island was basically Snakes and Ladders with cards if I remember correctly. Everyone took turns rolling a die and trying to get to the top of the board, and other players could hit their opponents with fireballs to send them back down to the beginning of a track. Other card effects involved switching places and the like with other players.

What set Fireball Island apart in a big way was the board itself. It was a massive 3D plastic monstrosity with an ornate plastic idol at the top of it. The “fireball” mechanic involved actually rolling marbles down along the winding paths of the board to knock other players down. The commercial gives you a pretty good idea of how cool the board was.

The board was so cool that I distinctly remember just playing out adventures on it using the explorer pieces instead of actually playing the game. Pink explorer game piece (the girl, obvs, I was 9) would get kidnapped by spooky cultists and need rescuing. Other game pieces would embark to the top to rescue “her”. The whole thing was pretty much designed to be an Indiana Jones play set.

It was amazing.lego setLegoland Space System 6980-1 Galaxy Commander

Ah, harking back to a simpler time when Lego was just making space ships. Not related to any major motion picture or TV show. This was just a plain and simple space ship. You know, when kids had to use their imaginations to come up with a story-line to play out? Spoilers: it usually involved finding and killing aliens.

And of course, it prominently featured many varieties of 80’s Spaceman, with the little chin-strap of his space helmet that would almost instantly crack.

This thing belonged to my brother, not me. But, in a breach of one of the commandments, this was a toy that I coveted. Look at that thing. It’s hard to tell but that rectangular bit at the back there? That detaches and is basically a little away shuttle for the crew. It also came with those little land vehicles down at the bottom. That’s four vehicles in one box and a landing pad for the main ship. 4 toys in one is a glorious thing at any age.

I was never really allowed to play with my brother’s Lego sets, I was six years his junior so I would presumably have just shot this spaceship down the stairs like a maniac. I was relegated to the aforementioned Playskool sets when this thing was in rotation for my 12-13 year old sibling. But sometimes, some very special times, I was allowed to play with him. Probably when I cried a bunch about not being allowed to play with Lego. On those occasions I knew I was playing with something special, this set was beautiful.

One of the greatest sorrows of my childhood was the fact that when I was old enough to really enjoy this Lego set and my brother was no longer old enough to care, the instructions had been lost. The Lego bricks had been shuffled in with a big unsorted sack of a million Legos and this was well before the internet could be used to find old instruction booklets. I remember as a frustrated 12 year old trying my best to recreate the glory of what my brother had, but I never could.

I wish there were pictures of my space-faring Fraken-ships that I could share with you, but there isn’t. Those dark and horribly constructed spacecraft will only live on in my nightmares.

barbie ferrariBONUS! Barbie Ferrari Convertible

This wasn’t my favorite toy from my childhood, it was Sarah’s.

It was a present from her cousin Rena who was quite a bit older than her and presumably had a real job to buy sweet presents. The fact that it came from a cool cousin and not just an obligatory Aunt or Uncle probably just made it that much cooler for the wee Sarah.  The thing that always got me about Barbie playsets is that they were big enough for Barbie dolls which are 11.5 inches tall. That means that all of their accessories like houses and cars are freaking huge.

Sarah talked about the size of this thing by mentioning that her toddler cousins would sit on it and ride around. The result of course being that the windshield was cracked and had to be removed (which I’m almost certain led to a very loud fight between cousins). But still, it was sturdy enough to have a small child sit on it and wheel around and still remain largely intact, which is impressive in it’s own right.

In a small bit of progressive feminism from a pre-teen girl playing Barbies, Sarah told me that Ken was NOT allowed to drive. He would ride passenger while Barbie drove her sweet Ferrari around. Sarah remembers re-enacting a lot of scenes from Clueless with Barbies, which would put her at about 7 or 8 years old. Not a bad gender reversal for an 8 year old I would say.

So, what about you? What’s your favorite obscure toys from your childhood? Let me know please.

Seriously, I love toys.

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, 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.