Kids are either incredibly creative and inventive or they are incredibly stupid and easily amused. It's hard to say for sure, but it is a fact that young children can have fun for extended periods of time with any item parents shove in their hands and tell them to play with. How else do you explain how popular hoop rolling has been since the time of Ancient Greece?
Basically, the hoop and stick was the PlayStation of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century.
Ever since the advent of modern consumerism, there have been plenty of morally degenerate misers willing to exploit children's extraordinary ability to make anything fun by making utterly useless toys that require little R&D and are cheap to manufacture. Just ask Gary Dahl who became a millionaire in a matter of six months thanks to this highly innovative toy:
What the heck are you supposed to do with a pet rock? I know it's a joke but still, people threw down cold-hard cash for something they could literally pick up off the side of the road. The really crazy fact of the matter is that there were probably hundreds of thousands of children who had a ball with this thing. Speaking of balls (not a euphemism)...
Do you remember the Bumble Ball? You may not remember it by name but I bet if you look at this picture you will get a rush of nostalgia.
These things were everywhere in the 90s. Every kid wanted one of these things because, well, I don't really know. All they were were plastic balls with a motor in the middle and some rubber spikes. When activated, the balls would vibrate and, if put on a flat surface they would begin to hop around spastically.
Like the Pet Rock, it's hard to imagine anybody getting more than 10 minutes of enjoyment with the Bumble Ball, and yet I remember being transfixed by this thing for hours on end at the age of five.
There was just something so satisfying about watching this thing hop around and around. It also made your hands and arms feel funny when you held it. So that was neat. See? I sound like a moron when I try to describe why this toy rocked, but it did and anybody who had it as a child can vouch for me.
Another toy from the 90s that was way more entertaining than it any right to be was the Playful Penguin Track. All it was was a blue plastic slide which formed a loop around a motorized staircase. It came with three little plastic penguins which each had a wheel below their feet. You just plopped the flightless birds on the track and watched them go up the stairs and down the slide.
It was almost like witchcraft, the way this simple toy managed to make me completely forget about the Super Nintendo I received for Christmas in addition to it. It took me about 20 minutes to write that last poorly constructed sentence because of how distracting the gif is.
Heck, I'm struggling to come up with a good ending to this feature because of it.
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