Do You Remember These Toys From the '70s?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo
Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

The 1970s toy industry churned out some real timeless classics – from the ingenious Pet Rock to the genius-testing Rubik’s Cube. If you’re a fan of vintage toys, do you think you can identify each of the ones in this quiz from a single picture? Take a step back in time with us and find out!

When it was released in 1977, the Atari 2600 was officially known as the Atari Video Computer System (VCS). For many years afterward, the name “Atari” was synonymous with “video games” to little boys who were eager to play their way through the hundreds of games the system supported.

To children in the 1970s, Evel Knievel was a stunt riding legend and several toys based on Knievel were created and sold by Ideal Toys. One toy even came with a walking cane – perhaps for the stuntman to use as he recovered from one of his many bone-breaking accidents.

The Magna Doodle came out in the mid-1970s and was somewhat reminiscent of the Etch-A-Sketch which was released in the previous decade. Over the years, the concept of the Magna Doodle has been used in many similar toys by various toy brands.

When it debuted in 1978, its speech synthesizer, keyboard, LCD screen and cartridge port set the Speak & Spell by Texas Instruments (TI) way ahead of the pack. The Speak & Spell was the first of three similar toys put out by TI. The other two were the Speak & Read and the Speak & Math (both released in 1980).

In 1975, advertising executive Gary Dahl came up with the bright idea of selling pet rocks – a product which he aptly named Pet Rock. In truth, however, the real selling point of the collectible toy was the 32-page tongue-in-check Pet Rock care instruction manual.

Milton Bradley brought out Simon, an electronic memory game, in 1978. It was based on an Atari arcade game called Touch Me, which was originally released in 1974. Simon went on to become a part of the electronics-craze of the '80s and has since gone on to become a pop culture symbol.

Mego’s Interchangeable World of Micronauts (or simply Micronauts, for short) featured 3.75-inch action figures, robots, vehicles and a wide range of accessories – all in a futuristic design. If that wasn’t enough, kids also had the option of switching parts between toys to create their very own figures.

Ideal Toys began producing Rebound in 1971, offering kids a combination of shuffleboard and curling - in a board game. Needless to say, Rebound was a hit and has remained popular and in production ever since.

The Boggle word game was first introduced in 1977 and over the years has generated a slew of variations. These include Boggle Junior, Body Boggle (a Twister-like version) and Boggle Bowl.

The Rubik’s Cube (originally called the Magic Cube) is a 3-dimensional color combination puzzle. It was invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor. Each side of the cube rotates on three axes, which makes solving the puzzle difficult, time-consuming and extremely rewarding!

“A Real tough toy for a real tough boy – Tonka!” That was one of the catchphrases used in advertising this line of toy vehicles which was first introduced in the mid-1950s. The Tonka line has remained popular over the decades and in the 1970s, was still ranking high on many a Christmas wish list.

Merlin, the Electronic Wizard was released by Parker Brothers in 1978 and was one of the very first handheld electronic games to be sold. This six-in-one game was somewhat addictive so you had to be prepared to change out those six double-A batteries on a regular basis!

Kenner Products brought Spirograph to the U.S. in 1966 and one year later, Spirograph copped the Toy of the Year award. The toy was “geared” for family fun and its popularity remained high well into the '70s.

The Johnny Horizon character was used by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to encourage environmental awareness in kids. It was issued by Parker Brothers and allowed children to conduct a variety of lab tests.

The Lite Brite was first produced by Hasbro in 1967 and it remained quite popular throughout the next decade. The set featured a box lit by a light bulb and covered by a black paper screen. Images were created by pushing colored translucent plastic pegs through the paper.

This floor mat game was introduced by Milton Bradley and Winning Moves in 1966 and “The game that ties you up in knots,” has remained a party favorite ever since. Twister (originally called Pretzel) was invented by Reynolds “Reyn” Guyer, who is also the inventor of the NERF ball (1969).

Archibald "Archie" Andrews and his comic book friends had been around for over three decades before Marx Toys began making Archies dolls in 1975. The line included 8-inch plastic Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica dolls, all with articulated limbs.

Perfection (1973) gave you 60 seconds to perfectly fit all 25 game pieces into your chosen card, or else! Once the time was up, the spring-loaded board popped up and sent the piece flying, unless that is you managed to fit them all and pushed STOP.

Codemaker vs. Codebreaker – that’s how Mastermind sets you up against your opponent. The game was invented by an Israeli telecommunications expert in 1970 and Invicta Plastics began selling it in 1971.

The original Pong is a video arcade tennis game which was first produced in 1972 by Atari. The game became so popular, that Atari came up with a home version in 1975. During that year’s Christmas season, roughly 150, 000 units of the home game were sold.

Marketing of the Big Wheel tricycle began in 1969 – just in time for it to ride a huge wave of popularity into the next decade. The Big Wheel was sold by Marx Toys and thanks to its patented Snap ‘n Stay assembly process, putting together the tricycle was pretty easy and you could be out riding in no time!

Schaper Toys began marketing Don’t Break the Ice in 1968. The game required a steady hand and a strategic approach to keep the iceman atop the blocks of ice. Schaper was also the manufacturer of The Game of Cootie (1948) and Ants in the Pants (1969).

You could think of Connect Four (or Connect4 as shown on the box) as a cross between checkers and tic-tack-toe – played vertically. It was introduced in 1974 by Milton Bradley and was just challenging enough to remain a family game night favorite throughout the decade and beyond.

Strawberry Shortcake and Custard, her cat, were created by Muriel Fahrion for American Greetings. They first appeared in 1979 and later ithat same year, Kenner Products released the very first Strawberry Shortcake doll.

The "Battlestar Galactica" TV series premiered in 1978 and became an instant hit. Accompanying the show was a line of toys and games, which included a board game, handheld LED game and 3.75-inch action figures.

The original Cabbage Patch Kids design can be traced to Xavier Roberts who created them in 1976. He chose the name Little People for his creation and began marketing them in 1978. It wasn’t until 1982 that the name was changed to Cabbage Patch Kids.

Ants in the Pants was created by game designer William H. Schaper and marketed by his toy company, W.H. Schaper Mfg. Co., Inc., in 1969. The game is very similar to Tiddlywinks, but features 16 2-inch ants which players try to jump into a pair of plastic pants.

Stay Alive, “The Ultimate Survival Game,” was first produced by Milton Bradley in 1971. The game was one-part strategy and nine-parts blind luck – the perfect recipe for endless nights of family fun!

Scoring the Eagle 1 Spaceship on Christmas morning was every little boy’s dream come true after Mattel released it in 1976 as a tie-in to the popular British sci-fi TV series, "Space: 1999." The Eagle 1 Spaceship was a real treat at over 2 feet long and a foot wide.

The Tinkertoy Construction Set is a classic that has been around since 1914 when it was created by stonemason Charles Pajeau. Luckily for parents, the simple and educational toy remained a kid-favorite throughout the decades.

The different types of Hello Kitty merchandise now number in the thousands but the initial product she appeared on was a vinyl coin purse in 1975 in Japan. The Hello Kitty line was introduced to the U.S. the following year and the rest, as they say, is history!

The Aggravation board game was around since 1960 but its popularity was still quite high in the '70s. That might be due to the game’s cross-generational appeal which makes it ideal as a family game.

The Hungry Hungry Hippos tabletop game featured pastel-colored hippos which players moved at “near lightning speed” to capture as many marbles as they could. One of this 1978 game’s slogans was “The Frantic Marble Munching Game!” which almost sums up the feeding frenzy which ensued once the game began.

The Weebles were launched in 1971 by Hasbro and their slogan said it all – “Weebles wobble but they don't fall down.” They were brightly colored, egg-shaped and had the kind of non-stop roly-poly action that kept little kids mesmerized for hours.

The inventors were actually trying to make a type of instant, spray-on cast when they stumbled upon the Silly String formula in 1972. That’s one scientific accident for which every gag-puller since then has been pretty grateful!

Kenner Products released their gel-filled Stretch Armstrong action figure in 1976. Kids everywhere could enjoy the somewhat sadistic pleasure of stretching him from his original 15-inch length, out to over 4 feet long.

Both Marvel and DC Comics superheroes were immortalized in Mego’s Official World’s Greatest Super Heroes. The company started producing the figures in 1972 and their line of action figures included Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, to name just a few.

The NERF ball was released in 1970 and over 4 million were bought that year alone. This perfect-for-playing-ball-in-the-house ball went on to become one of the decade’s best-selling toys.

Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford (penname: Peyo) created his species of little blue people in 1958 and they “smurfed” their way to stardom! The Smurf franchise grew to include several TV series, comic books, feature films, and of course, a line of Smurf figurines.

Right at the end of the decade (November 1979, to be exact) Milton Bradley unleashed the one toy that could easily wipe every other toy off a boy’s Christmas wish list – Big Trak. The six-wheel, programmable robotic tank came complete with a blue "photon beam" headlamp mounted on its front.

The Six Million Dollar Man premiered in 1973 and turned Steve Austin into a legend for little boys at the time. The franchise included board games, lunch boxes and a slew of other merchandise, but the 12-inch action figures produced by Kenner Products were the cream of the crop for many Christmas morning hopefuls.

Kenner Product released the Sit ‘n Spin in 1974 and the toy has rotated its way onto Christmas wish lists ever since while still remaining a year-round favorite. Apart from being brightly colored, the Sit ‘n Spin has featured numerous famous characters, including the Care Bears.

Paddington Bear first appeared in British literature in 1958. His stuffed toy version, however, had to wait until 1972 to make his polite way onto store shelves and Christmas wish lists. The original Paddington Bears wore actual children’s boots until the manufacturers of the toy started making boots specifically for the toy.

Ever wonder where the game of laser tag got its start? The hugely popular "Star Trek" franchise included everything a little boy could want to stuff his Christmas wish list with – until 1979, that is. That was when the first “working” Star Trek Electronic Phasers hit the market and behold, the game of laser tag was born!

Starting in 1978, Kenner Products began manufacturing the very first line of Star Wars action figures. Kenner got the deal because Mego Corporation (which made action figures for both DC and Marvel Comics) had turned down the offer to produce the Star War toys.

Kenner Products began making and selling the Baby Alive doll in 1973 and she was as successful as she was cute. The doll was sold with a bottle, feeding spoon, diapers and packets of food to mix with water before feeding it to her.

Two housewives created the Shrinky Dinks material in 1973 while helping out their sons with a Cub Scouts project. Shrinky Dinks can be bought as precut shapes to be colored and baked or as a blank roll for arts and crafts enthusiasts to really let their creativity loose.

Mystery Date was first released in 1970 and oh, the pre-teen scandals that ensued (around the game board, that is!) The object of the game was to acquire an outfit of matching pieces and hope you were a complementary match for the “Mystery Date” at the door.

In the mid-1960s Milton Bradley gave every aspiring surgeon (or mad scientist) a taste of what it’s like to perform an “Operation.” The game has remained a family favorite for decades – the only skill required is a steady, yet nimble hand.

Action Jackson encouraged kids to “Think of what you want to be, and call on me.” Introduced in 1971 by Mego Corporation, Action Jackson had several other inspiring phrases and plenty of accessories to choose from. This 9-inch action figure, however, couldn’t keep up with the sales of the much more popular 12-inch G.I. Joe figures.

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