While their parents were discussing the Watergate scandal, crying over the death of the King and boogieing it up in disco clubs, '70s kids were hard at play, enjoying some of the unforgettable toys of the decade. It was a time when action figures ruled, artists could unleash their skills on the Magna Doodle or Lite-Brite, future chefs could pop out a cake heated via a light bulb, and the key to uncovering the future of the far-off '80s was only a Magic-8 ball away.
A few decades later, those '70s kids are adults, and many are willing to spend big bucks to recapture a piece of their childhoods in the form of a once-loved toy that has long since been lost or broken. That's why '70s faves like Six-Million Dollar Man Action Figures or the Evel Knievel Stunt Bike are being auctioned off on eBay for hundreds of dollars. It's why the cast of "Pawn Stars" spent a whopping $500 for just the head of a '70s Stretch Serpent—pal to the famous Stretch Armstrong. And it's why former kids of the '70s with rare "Star Wars" figures from childhood that are buried in boxes in the garage—think Luke Skywalker toys with double-telescoping light-saber—can auction off these classics in exchange for enough money for a new car.
Think you can ID the greatest toys of the decade? Prove it with this quiz!
The creator of the Pet Rock made more than a million dollars selling these seemingly simple toys in the '70s. Of course, the secret was all in the marketing; each Pet Rock came in a box complete with straw bedding and air holes, plus a guidebook called "The Care and Training of Your Pet Rock."
Weebles wobble but they don't fall down! At least, that's the promise Hasbro made when these cute children's toys were introduced in 1971. Designed to resemble everything from people to cartoon characters, Weebles also came with cool play sets, such as a Haunted House, Tree House and Camper.
Here's the secret—that stuff that allowed you to extend Stretch Armstrong a a full 4 to 5 feet was nothing more than boiled corn syrup! Introduced by Kenner in 1976, Stretch Armstrong was re-released in 2016 by Hasbro to appeal to nostalgic toy lovers.
Inspired by the Japanese line of Microman toys, Micronauts action figures were made of metal and plastic and stood just under 4-inches tall. They tended to have more movable parts than many other figures of the period, and included plenty of futuristic and space designs—like robots and aliens.
Skateboarding got its start in the '50s, but it wasn't until the '70s when this toy became a mainstream hit. Longboards were hugely popular during the decade, though younger kids often scooted around on their bottoms rather than on two feet like the pros.
In 1977, Atari introduced the 2600 system. Priced at around $200—that's close to $800 today—the 2600 was one of the first home gaming systems to play interchangeable games using ROM cartridges. Some early Atari units were packaged with "Combat," while others came with the classic "Pac-Man."
Marketed with the tagline "My Name is Simon," Simon was a huge hit among '70s kids. In the days before video games were widespread, this seemingly simple game wit its patterns of lights and sounds was way more cutting edge than many other toys of the time.
In 1977. a little sci-fi flick called "Star Wars: A New Hope" hit theaters: perhaps you've heard of it? Kenner produced a line of action figures to accompany the movie—with Luke, Leia, Chewbacca and R2D2 among the earliest options—but struggled to meet huge demand. By 1985, more than 300 million Star Wars Action Figures had been sold to eager kids.
Colorforms consist of vinyl stickers that can be reused again and again. In addition to standard shapes and letters, sets released in the '70s included a "Star Trek" theme, a "David Cassidy" set and a "Sesame Street" version for the younger set.
Toy maker Milton Bradley came out with Connect Four in 1974. Players took turns dropping red or black checkers into a plastic frame in an attempt to score four in a row—and taking Tic Tac Toe to a whole new level.
The Tree Tots Family Tree House was a beloved '70s classic. This pop-up tree top could be closed to keep the figures and furniture contained, or lifted up for easy access at playtime. It even came with a special dog bush for the pet canine, Barky.
Made from polyurethane foam, the Nerf Ball was marketed as the World's First Official Indoor Ball when it came out in 1970. By the next year, the company had sold more than a million units to parents who were sick of kids breaking things while playing with harder balls in the house.
Pong came out in the arcade in 1972. By 1975, a home version, known simply as Pong Home, was released just in time for Christmas. It was sold only at Sears and quickly spawned dozens of imitators.
Before the Game Boy or the Nintendo Switch, Mattel's handheld '70s games were all the rage. In the 1977 LED version of Electronic Football, kids followed a bright dot representing the quarterback across a 10-yard field. An upgrade the next year—cleverly called Football II—added a passing option to the mix.
Introduced in 1967, Lite-Brite became a huge hit by the '70s. A simple light bulb illuminated a box covered by black paper. By pressing translucent colored pegs through the paper, kids created glowing designs using templates or their own imaginations.
Introduced in 1974, Magna Doodle was a liquid-filled message board that used magnetic particles to capture words or pictures. Since the '70s, more than 40 million Magna Doodles have found their way into the hands of happy kids.
After baking a cake with their Easy Bake Oven, '70s kids could turn a crank on their Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine to grind ice cubes into a snowball. While this toy has been around since the '60s, it had a Frosty the Snowman theme until 1979, when Hasbro elected to use a Peanuts motif.
One of the earliest electronic handhelds with interchangeable cartridges, the Speak and Spell came out in 1978. Thanks to letter and number buttons and an electronic display, it helped kids learn to read and spell more than 200 tough words.
In 1975, Fisher Price took steps to compete with Hasbro's popular Weebles by introducing the Sesame Street Playhouse. Inspired by the beloved Jim Henson creation, the play set came complete with the familiar apartment building, a street sign, a garbage truck and even a nest for Big Bird.
Professor Erno Rubik introduced his iconic Magic Cube in 1974. By the end of the decade, the toy had been named the Rubik's Cube in honor of its creator, and more than 350 million have since been sold. And if you need some motivation to dust yours off, there's this— the record for solving a 3x3 cube in less than 7 seconds.
Introduced by Kenner in 1973, Baby Alive chowed down on food packets then eliminated the food by peeing, pooping or throwing up—requiring diaper changes and plenty of other cleanup. Thankfully, technology changes in future models of the toy eliminated the throwing up option.
The success of "The Six-Million Dollar Man" inspired a spin-off about Steve Austin's girlfriend. Like many '70s series, the "Bionic Woman" series came with its own line of action figures, including the title character herself, as well as her arch-enemy the Fembot.
Little People came out in 1950, but were hugely popular by the '70s. These chunky little figures came with play sets like a barn or firehouse, and were officially known as the Play Family People. Parents and kids referred to them as Little People for many years before the name was finally changed in the '80s.
Shrinky Dinks came out in 1973 and are still delighting kids today. Made from sheets of polystyrene, they can be colored in and baked—including in an Easy Bake Oven!—where they will shrink to a third of their original size, retaining their color and design.
The View-Master came out in 1939, but was designed to provide a glimpse of travel sites for adult users. By the '70s, it was being marketed to kids, along with reels or disks featuring images from cartoons.
Fisher-Price came out with its Talk-Back Phone—also known as the Chatter Telephone—in 1962. When pulled by a string, the phone made a chattering sound and raised its eyes up and down, delighting young kids over the decades. In 2000, the company switched from a rotary design to a push-button style to keep up with the times.
The Pippa doll and her friends, Marie, Tammie and Britt were smaller and more affordable alternatives to Barbie and other full-sized fashion dolls of the decade. Pippa and friends had countless clothing options, a car and an apartment, as well as several other play sets to choose from before they were discontinued in 1980.
Seventies kids will remember that buzz as one robot's head popped up on Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. Though this game came out in the '60s, it got an outer space makeover in the '70s to take advantage of the "Star Wars" craze, resulting in the short-lived game Clash of the Cosmic Robots.
Move over Barbie—the Chrissy Doll was an 18-inch tall redhead produced by the Ideal Toy Company between 1969 and 1974. Pushing a knob on her back allowed you to retract her hair, while a button on her belly could be released to make her hair long again.
Barbie hit toy store shelves in 1959 sporting a black and white bikini. The '70s saw the introduction of Malibu Barbie, with loose blonde locks, a three-story Townhouse play set and Teresa—the first Hispanic Barbie doll.
Introduced by Mattel in the '50s, the Magic 8 Ball was the perfect tool for decision-making—or attempting to see the future. A isocahedron floating in blue alcohol answered yes-or-no questions with replies like "Outlook Hazy" or "Ask Again Later."
G.I. Joe got an update in 1970 as Adventure Team Joe, an attempt to reduce the whole military connection as the Vietnam War raged. This version of the toy was designed for exploring jungles and deserts rather than going to battle. The '70s also brought movable "eagle eyes" and a "Kung-Fu Grip" to the toy.
Kenner introduced the Easy Bake Oven in 1963 and sold half a million units that first year. By the '70s, countless kids were mixing up a cake to bake under the of-so-efficient heat of a single incandescent light bulb.
Still being produced today, Boggle came out in 1972 to test our spelling skills. It came with 16 dice with letters on each side. By spilling the dice into a 4x4 grid, players could quickly search for words among the letters and see who could find the most before time ran out.
You couldn't find a building or natural wonder that Evel Knievel wasn't trying to jump over in the '70s. The popularity of this stuntman led Ideal Toys to introduce the Evel Knievel Action Figure in the '70s, followed by a stunt cycle for the toy in '76. Play sets like a Stunt Stadium and Skull Canyon set quickly followed.
Spirograph has been around in various forms since around 1900, but it wasn't introduced as a toy set until Kenner released it in 1965. By the '70s, kids were using the geared wheels to create curves known as hyprotrochoids and epitrochoids—not that most users ever knew that's what they were drawing!
Mr. Potato Head started out as a set of parts kids could stick into a real potato. It got its plastic shell in the '60s, and doubled in size in the '70s to meet new toy safety standards.
Milton Bradley introduced Battleship—where a pair of opponents attempt to guess the location of a plastic ship—in 1967. By 1977, the game had become so popular that the company came out with an electronic version, complete with lights and explosion sound-effects when a ship got struck.
Made in Australia, more than a billion Crater Critters were shipped around the world in the '70s, and most ended up in boxes of Kellogg's Cereal. These bug-like space creatures are hugely collectible to this day among kids who always lost the cereal prize to older siblings.
Produced between 1970 and 1973, the pint-sized Dawn Doll managed to make quite a splash among kids despite her short stature. Smaller than Barbie, Dawn was a model at the creatively-named Dawn Model Agency. Children could also put Dawn and her friends in play sets such as Dawn's Beauty Parlor or Dawn's Disco—hey, it was the '70s, after all.