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The Five Freakiest Childhood Toys

The toys of today got nuthin’ on the creepy, spooky playthings of days gone by. Here’s our take on the five freakiest toys ever to lurk under our beds – and haunt our nightmares.

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Teddy Ruxpin

The battery-powered bear robot initially came to creepy life in 1985, moving its eyes and jaw in sync with the cassette tape in its backside. Didn’t humanity learn its lesson when it built Skynet and gave the machines self-awareness? With Teddy Ruxpin, society is just a microchip upgrade away from bear-shaped Terminators roaming the Earth, reading bedtime stories while they enslave us all.

Troll Dolls

Has there ever been an uglier, weirder fad than troll dolls? They sport wildly colored hair, faces like unbaked pretzel dough and clothes straight outta the Brady Bunch’s Goodwill donation pile. Yet somehow they just keep becoming popular. Kids in the ‘90s snapped up the so-ugly-they’re-cute creatures by the outstretched armful -- just as their parents did in the 1960s.


Gak wasn’t terrifying in the traditional sense, but it still turned stomachs. A cross between Silly Putty, Play-Doh, and snot, it came in an amoeba- shaped container and smelled like ammonia and rotten milk. In the mid-90s, Mattel embraced Gak’s inner stinkitude, and launched a line with added scents called Smell My Gak. Pickles, pizza or hotdogs, anyone? Blorf.


Part Giga Pet, part Gizmo from “Gremlins,” Furby was the must-have toy of 1998, as desperate parents knocked each other down at the Toys R Us to bring home the hairy, animatronic alien for their mesmerized child. You could interact with him by petting his back or sticking your finger in his mouth. Sure, we all knew Furby was using every ounce of his alien willpower not to chomp through our flesh and suckle human blood, but they were so cute, we didn’t care.

Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces

Hugo, the Man of a Thousand Faces, is our pick for the single creepiest toy ever created. Not only was he hairless and wee, but he was literally half a man, with his body ending at the cuff of his oddly dainty blue blouse. We’re quite sure that once the lights went out, Hugo skittered out of our toybox and dragged himself across the bedroom floor with his puppet elbows, on his way to the nest he built under our bed. Sweet dreams!

Find more childhood toys, tastes and trends in the books "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?" and "The Totally Sweet '90s" by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont.

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