Feeling groovy? If you’re not, this era will make you. It will also get you dancing as it crosses over into the disco era. This is where pop culture gains a strong foothold within the toy industry through licensing and cross-promotion of TV, films, and music. It was also where electronic and computer games were introduced.
Six Million Dollar Man - 1975
Kenner signed on for the rights to produce toys for the series and began distributing in 1975 what would become one of the most popular action figure lines of all time. Kenner released three versions of Steve Austin as well as Oscar Goldman, his boss, Maskatron (his unstoppable enemy) and of course this line wouldn't be complete without BigFoot. Related are the Bionic Woman action figures which included The Bionic Woman herself and her evil nemesis The Fembot.
Webbles - 1971
Weebles is a trademark for several lines of children's roly-poly toys originating in Hasbro's Playskool division on July 23, 1971. Tipping an egg-shaped Weeble causes a weight located at the bottom-center to be lifted off the ground. Once released, gravity brings the Weeble back into an upright position. Weebles have been designed with a variety of shapes, including some designed to look like people or animals.
The catchphrase "Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down" was used in advertising during their rise in popularity in the 1970s and during successive relaunches in the early 21st century.
SSP - 1970
These were sleek plastic cars (and sometimes motorcycles) anywhere from six to ten inches long that had only one wheel. They might appear to have more than one, but the others were fake. That one wheel was primary in a basic system of gears that could be wound up and spun at high speed by pulling a toothed plastic strip through them. By pulling the 'T-stick' and placing the car on the ground, floor, whatever semi-flat surface - they would take off like, well, like racers.
Shrinky Dinks - 1973
Shrinky Dinks were invented in 1973 by two housewives (Betty Morris and Kate Bloomberg) of Brookfield, Wisconsin, as a Cub Scout project with their sons. The first kits were sold at a local shopping mall and became very popular. Shrinky Dinks were soon licensed to be manufactured by the major toy companies of the time such as Milton Bradley, Colorforms, Western Publishing, and Skyline Toys. The shrink plastic is still available from many retailers and can be used for a variety of things like charms and pins.
Evel Knieval - 1973
Between 1972 and 1977, Ideal Toy Company released a series of Evel Knievel-related merchandise, designed initially by Joseph M. Burck of Marvin Glass and Associates. During the six years, the toys were manufactured, Ideal claimed to have sold more than $125 million worth of Knievel toys. The toys included the original 1972 figures, which offered various outfits and accessories. In 1973, Ideal released the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. After the release of the Stunt Cycle, the Knievel toys were the best selling item for Ideal.
Micronauts - 1976
Micronauts was a North American science fiction toyline manufactured and marketed by Mego from 1976 to 1980. The Micronauts toys were based on and licensed from the Microman toys created by Japanese toy company Takara in 1974.
The Micronauts consisted of 3.75-inch tall action figures which were known for their high number of articulation points relative to other toys of similar scale in the 1970s. The toyline also included vehicles, robots, playsets, and accessories. Many of the Micronauts toys used interchangeable connectors that allowed parts to be connected between different toys.
Baby Alive - 1973
The Baby Alive doll was introduced by Kenner in 1973. It could be fed food packets mixed with water and came with a bottle, diapers, and a feeding spoon. The spoon would be inserted into its mouth, and a lever on its back pushed to have it chew the food. The food would move through her and end up in her diaper; this version did not speak, so you had to check the diaper a few moments after feeding.
Sit 'n Spin - 1974
The Kenner Toy Company began producing the Sit ‘N Spin in 1974. Essentially a modified version of the Tea Cup attractions popular at carnivals and amusement parks, Sit 'N Spin consisted of a stationary circular base with a steering wheel that poked up through its middle. All the spinner had to do was twist the steering wheel around, which caused the base to rotate around. The faster the wheel was spun, the quicker the circular motion. The end result was fast-moving but safe fun that inevitably resulted in dizziness accompanied by a feeling of pure euphoria.
Coleco Telstar - 1976
Under CEO Arnold Greenberg, the company entered the video game console business with the Telstar in 1976. Dozens of companies were introducing game systems that year after Atari's successful Pong console. Nearly all of these new games were based on General Instrument's "Pong-on-a-chip". However, General Instrument had underestimated demand, and there were severe shortages. Coleco had been one of the first to place an order, and was one of the few companies to receive an order in full. Though dedicated game consoles did not last long on the market, their early order enabled Coleco to break even.
Atari VCS - 1975 / 1977
The original Atari, Inc., founded in Sunnyvale, California in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, was a pioneer in arcade games, home video game consoles, and home computers. The company's products, such as Pong and the Atari 2600, helped define the electronic entertainment industry from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. The first Atari home console was released in 1975 featuring the Pong game without any cartridges. In 1977 Atari released the Atari 2600 which included cartridges so players would not need a new console for new games.
Green Machine - 1975
In the year 1977, if you were just too big for a “Big Wheel,” there was only one alternative: Marx’s Green Machine. If you owned one, the other kids on your street would be “green” with envy.
Holly Hobbie - 1974
Working at American Greetings 1973 Bob Childers, a veteran humorous concept artist and designer insisted that there should be a doll of their Holly Hobbie character. Since no one seemed to listen, Childers went home and, on his own time, hand-stitched the first prototype and presented it American Greetings. American Greetings approached Knickerbocker Toy Company the makers of classic Raggedy Ann dolls concerning the Holly Hobbie license. In 1974, Knickerbocker Toys licensed the Holly Hobbie character for a line of rag dolls, launched in 1975. These were a popular toy for young American girls for several years.
Handheld LED games - 1977
After introducing the Telstar and Colecovision video consoles, Coleco continued to do well in electronics. The company transitioned next into handheld electronic games, a market popularized by Mattel. An early hit was Electronic Quarterback. Coleco produced two very popular lines of games, the "head to head" series of two-player sports games.
Spin Art - 1964
The spin art toy was developed in the early 1960s after it was demonstrated on the TV quiz show "What's My Line" in 1958 by the father of spin art Eugene R. Pera. He felt the machine could make anyone an abstract artist and toy manufacturers took notice. Early machines were Ohio Arts Twirl-o-Paint and later Rapco's Spin Art Painter Set. It's still a popular toy for children and adults today.
Inch Worm - 1977
The Inchworm was a ride-on toy for children produced by the Hasbro Corporation, first introduced in the early 1970s. Inchworm was designed by Joseph M. Burck while he worked for Marvin Glass and Associates. Burck built the first inchworm using his clothes-dryer's hose and tested it with his then-three-year-old son.
Rubik's Cube - 1974
The Rubik's cube was invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, a Hungarian architect, who wanted a working model to help explain three-dimensional geometry. After designing the “magic cube” as he called it (twice the weight of the current toy), he realized he could not actually solve the puzzle.
Rubik's Cube is the fourteenth best selling toy in history.
Jaws Game - 1975
The Game of Jaws is a 1975 game by Ideal. The game is based on the blockbuster of the same name. Today, the game is rare and is a valuable collector's item. Jaws features a plastic great white shark, as well as 13 junk pieces. The junks pieces are things like tires, human skulls, etc. The game was also released as "Sharky's Diner" many years later.
Socker Boppers - 1970
Socker Boppers were first made and sold by Centsable Products, Inc., in the 1970s, when the toy was a top 10 best-seller among all toys. The original packaging included a photo of two children, one of whom was owner Tom Mayfield's son, playing with the toy.