JG's Columns
JG's Ten Demented Ways We Misused Our Toys
By James Guttman
May 15, 2013 - 11:16 AM

Today's toys don't compare to the toys I had as a kid. For starters, they're safe. But even the dangerous fun we had way back when weren't enough to keep us happy. No, we hacked, hurt, and even blew up most of the things we owned. What good were toys if they weren't on fire? I wondered the same thing. Now, relive your early mental problems with JG's Ten Demented Ways We Misused Our Toys...

Speak and Spell Swearing

I think this toy was supposed to teach you to spell or something, but I never got that far.

Unfortunately, there was just something too fun about hearing the Stephen Hawking voice of a Speak and Spell repeat back to me "F…U…C…K" that made me abandon any hope of using it correctly. I used to laugh like crazy. It was an early sign that I harbored a bit of insanity.

The best thing about these toys was that the voice was so garbled that any word remotely close to the naughty word you want it to say works. Type in "FUNK YOU" and have it repeat it to a friend. Ha Ha, Billy!   You got cursed out by Vicki from Small Wonder!

So what happens when your Speak-and-Spell obsession grows out of control? You either buy or make a "bent circuit" version of the toy and use it to create music. I kid you not.

Musicians like Beck have used bent circuit Speak and Says in their work. Basically, it overloads the circuit board and creates some insane sounds. The result is a melody of awful din suitable for any angry emo rave. Tally ho, Funkers.

Teddy Ruxpin Using Non-Teddy Ruxpin Tapes

This one is pretty straightforward. Teddy Ruxpin was a doll bear who told you stories from a cassette tape that you inserted into his back. For those of you who don't know what cassette tapes are, they were a little package of MP3s that lived on tape that wasn't sticky.

So people did stuff like this to him:

The problem with this bear, though, was that he didn't always react correctly to the non-Ruxpin tapes. The mouth never quite matched as well it as it did with the official tapes so it always wound up being disappointing. That didn't stop us from making tapes of ourselves saying cursewords and sticking it in his fuzzy little back.

That doesn't sound demented enough for you? Fine. You set the bar high. You could also do this to him:

Barbie Porn

Boys today are allowed to paint their nails and use Easy Bake Ovens. It's 2013, grandpa, get with it.

But in our day, boys toys were boys toys and girls toys were girls toys. For that reason, I never had any Barbies. But, to be honest, I think there were other reasons.

You see, whenever we'd be at the house of a friend with a little sister, there were always half-mutilated Barbie Dolls around. And, depending on which was available, either He-Men or WWF LJN Figures had sex with her.

Of course, when you're like eleven years old, toy doll sex involves taking your Paul Orndorff figure and violently slamming him into naked Barbie. It's a wonder how all the kids who did this didn't grow all grow up to be serial killers.

Only 90% of us did.

Operation Electro Shock Therapy

Operation was the first exposure most kids had to the exciting world of sadomasochism. They should have put that right on the box.   "Operation - Shock Yourself And Find Out If You Have a Fetish!"

That's what this game was. Forget that you're basically pulling bones out of a naked hobo (a psychotic premise to start with). It was the fact that any error in movement resulted in shock. That's right. We shocked ourselves when we were kids. It was part of the game. Enjoy your bike helmets, bitches. We'll be vibrating for fun.

Watch this commercial. Even the mother knows her kids are sickos. In the first three seconds, she jokes about how they're killing the family dog. Seriously.

Naturally, this toy became less of a gaming competition and more of an at-home electroshock therapy kit.  I'm still not fully sure how it's played. I think you have to find out who killed the hobo before you have a seizure or something.

Beating The Shit Out of Teddy Bears and Pillow People

Today, WWE urges kids to not "try this at home." We were never given such a warning. For most of us, the only warning we had was to "get home before the street lights go on." As a result, many of us had wild fun practicing wrestling moves on every soft object in the house. Also, many of us were kidnapped, but that's a downer.

Pillow People and Teddy Bears were the prime objects of our Jimmy Snuka-emulation. I remember fondly placing a pillow on one side of my living room and diving from the couch on the other. Stuff broke, but the Superfly doesn't care for such things. We had throw pillows to punish.

Rug burns and scrapes went hand in hand with these attacks. WWE took the problem very seriously and told kids to stop doing wrestling holds in their homes.

Nah, I'm kidding. They made their own brand of Pillow dolls to break your neck with.

The irony to all this? They still sell these dolls while running their "Don't Try This At Home" ads. What do they think kids are doing with the Rey Mysterio pillow doll? Kissing it?

It's a sick world.

Slamming The Hell Out of Hungry Hungry Hippos and Rock'em Sock'em Robots

In my lifetime, I've played both Hungry Hungry Hippos and Rock'em Sock'em Robots thousands of times. Also, I've never played either once.

How so? Well, because the only way I've ever played either of these games is by smashing them as hard as can with my fist. I basically beat the crap out of flimsy plastic for 45 seconds until I stop and look at the board to see if I won.

I'm sure you think that's the point of the game. It's not. The point of Hungry Hungry Hippos is to make your hippopotamus mouth open and close in time with the marbles rolling towards you. It requires timing and focus. Yet, most games devolve into both players feverishly smashing while all the marbles roll to one unreachable part of the board. Eventually someone shakes the thing, but that doesn't stop us from pounding it. Even when there are no pellets in sight. What the f**k is that about, Tyler Durden? Sheesh!

Rock'em Sock'em is the same thing. I found myself wildly punching this toy even when my opponent's robot was nowhere near me. It gets so bad most times that the toy ends up flying off the table, resulting in both robots losing their heads once it hits the ground. I've participated in countless Robot Boxing draws. We all have.

The kicker? In both games, the strength of your hit doesn't influence anything. Lightly tapping your hippo does the exact thing as slamming it. Same with the robot. In fact, the game is actually easier to win if you play it calmly. But no. You have anger issues. We know this. Remember what you did to G.I. Joes?

G.I. Joe Firecrackers

Here's an old favorite of kids with parents who didn't hide matches. It involved taking a G.I. Joe, taping him to firecracker and lighting it. Sound awesome? Well, it wasn't.

My favorite part of that video was when the kid happily exclaims, "We're gonna go blind!"

I can't follow that. It sums up why we did this incredibly dangerous activity with little payoff. Who needs fingers anyway? Gloves are overrated.   We like mittens.

Smashed Open Magic 8 Balls

If you're familiar with Magic 8 Balls, you probably said to yourself, "I'd imagine Etch-a-Sketches would be smashed too." Not really. A Youtube search brings up tons of broken Magic 8 Balls, but few Etches. The reason? Etch-a-Sketches served a freakin' purpose. Magic 8 Balls didn't do anything.

If you're not familiar with Magic 8 Balls, they were nonsense. Basically, it was a company's way of selling you a version of those stupid paper flapping things girls did with their hands.

"Oh, that's great. I'm going to have 11 kids and live in a shack in Istanbul. Great fortune telling you did there, dippy."

But it didn't even do that. You shook it and it gave you one of like six answers to basic "yes" or "no" questions. By very definition, a "yes or no question" should have only two answers. But, that's not any fun. You don't need an immediate answer to "Does Sally Like Me?" when you can shake the thing for ten minutes while continuously being told that "The Answer Is Not Clear." Bastards.

So you smash it.


If you're a smart kid, you do it outside and clean it up before you get in trouble. If you're a dumb kid, you eat the blue shit that oozes out and you die. For those who never had a chance to break some balls, so to speak, - this is what happens

Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

Furby Abuse

Teddy Ruxpin had it easy compared to what most of you nutcases did to your Furbys. Then again, in all fairness, Furbys deserved it.

These annoying little monster things finally hit the nostalgia wave last year and began coming back in swarms. For those lucky enough to avoid them, they talk to each other in nonsensical baby talk and blink a lot. They're fat robotic birds that serve no real purpose other than to microwave…


Set on fire:


Or just torturing overall like the monster you know yourself to truly be inside:

A lot of these can be said for Tickle Me Elmos or any interactive talking doll. It's the closest you can get to doing these things to a human without getting arrested…which sadly, I think is the one deterrent some of these people have.

So next time you see a Furby, press down his tongue and thank him. If not for his sacrifice, these Youtubers would be setting all of us on fire. Godspeed, Furby. Or, as you would say, M eeee-Kah-Tahhhhh!

Party Hat Rubber Band Torture

Every party store has them. They're the tiny cute little plastic hats that make any child's costume or birthday celebration so adorable.

They also stay on your head by wrapping a tight thin elastic wire around your throat. But, hey, toddler asphyxiation is a small price to pay for fun photographs.

It wasn't so much that the band choked us the entire time it was on. It was the intense shooting pain that we felt when it was snapped back under our chins. It explained why other kids did it relentlessly when you wore one. Think of it as the head equivalent to all the times kids scraped their dirty feet onto your brand new white shoes.

The real demented part was that some kids actually did it themselves. A five year old's world is similar to the world in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". Nothing is scarier than that one pirate sitting in the corner and snapping his face with a rubber band over and over and over and over….

But that wasn't you, was it? If so, don't hide. Own it. The world needs more rubber band snappers in it. They don't whine as much.

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