Weird, odd, dangerous, and WHY? That’s what you’ll find here. And this is only a small sampling of what we have in the vault at the Ephemera Lounge. So get a taste of what we will be sharing here in future as you bravely explore our sampling of weird toys.
Little Mis No Name - 1966
Little Miss No Name was created in 1965 by Hasbro and she was a different approach to the glamorous Barbie doll who had everything. The Little Miss No Name doll had nothing including no shoes and only a burlap sack for a dress.
Unfortunately, the Little Miss No Name doll wasn't a huge seller for Hasbro and it was said that it may have taken a special kind of little girl, one with real love in her heart to want to purchase and take home a Little Miss No Name doll.
Rapco Cast-Rite - 1967
Rapco cannot catch a break. C'mon what could possibly go wrong with kids using a mini foundry to cast lead toys and soldiers? Well in 1967 someone at Rapco thought it was a great idea.
But even with all the crazy toxic and dangerous things Rapco has produced, I still think they are one of the most imaginative toy companies that has ever existed.
Odd Ogg - 1962
What's that scuttling across the floor? A horseshoe crab? A Roomba? No, it's Odd Ogg, a nifty interactive toy from 1962. If you're feeling formal, you might want to call him Mr. Ogg, since that's how the folks at Ideal referred to him when the company introduced the rolling green plastic toy with his beady pink eyes and gaping mouth. While Odd Ogg wouldn't win any beauty pageants, his interactive responses (powered by two D batteries) were pretty impressive for his time.
Instant Fish - c. 1960
You've heard the saying "just add water". Well, this toy takes that to the extreme. Whamo (Rapco's more "conservative" rival) seemed to be able to make almost anything seem cool to play with. Here they exploited the biological adaptations the African killifish developed to survive droughts and turned it into a toy. At the NY toy show where it was first presented, Wham-o received over one million pre-orders. The problem was that the fish used did not reproduce fast enough to fill the demand. In the end, the idea was shelved a year later.
Glass Blowing Kit - c. 1930
Roll up you sleeves boys and girls because today we are doing glass blowing in the comfort of your own home. Adult supervision? No way, this is science dammit. So let's throw caution to the wind and make our own glass toys and trinkets. If you get really good you can make bottles to hid your parents whiskey inside.
Shrunken Head - 1975
In the 1970s Vincent Price could have sold me anything, and this is proof. I had this toy and only manage to get one head out of the contraption because the apples took so long to dry out using a regular light bulb. It took almost a week for the process, which will try the patience of any 10-year-old.
Hugo - 1975
At some point in history, someone thought the world lacked an expressionless toy puppet whose appearance could change into anything. So that's how we got Hugo, the man of a thousand faces. This toy would have been creepy enough if it was just a doll but making it as a hand puppet ups the nightmare-fuel level to 11.
King Zor - 1962
A dinosaur that you have a shootout with while it chases you around the house and shoots back. Sign me up.
King Zor came with a dart gun, 5 darts, and 5 little yellow balls which Zor used as "missiles". Once you loaded Zor with the missiles and 2 fresh D size batteries, you were ready to play. When you flipped his "on" switch, he started to roll about the floor. (No shag carpets PLEASE!) There was no need to guide him, he automatically backed off, roared and changed direction when his tongue hit an obstruction.
Atomic Energy Lab - 1950
The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab is a toy lab set that was produced by Alfred Carlton Gilbert, who was an American athlete, magician, toy-maker, businessman, and inventor of the well-known Erector Set. The Atomic Energy Lab was released by the A. C. Gilbert Company in 1950. The kit's intention was to allow children to create and watch nuclear and chemical reactions using radioactive material.
Peteena - 1966
You've never heard of a Peteena the Poodle in a Bikini? I hadn't either until a few weeks ago and now I'm smitten. Peteena was introduced in 1966 by Hasbro. She is a 9-inch fashion doll that comes wearing a bikini, headscarf, plastic shoes (heels?) and green plastic sunglasses. You could purchase high fashion inspired outfits for her as well. Sadly Hasbro only sold her for one year due to poor sales. But as a toy, she was way ahead of her time.
Lindberg Monster Models - 1965
Following in the path blazed by Aurora in the mid-1960s with their Monster Scenes model kits, Lindberg Models issued its own line of me-too monster model kits in 1965 - the Mad Mangler, Green Ghoul, Krimson Terror, and the Creeping Crusher. Nowhere near as detailed and fun to build as the Aurora monster model kits, but 100 times more strange.
Swack - 1968
Swack is Ideal's wacky, new game that's loaded with action. What happens when you take the cheese off the giant trap...just wait and see. You might move ahead on the big cheese scoreboard or you might move back if the trap goes swack.
Witch Dr. Head Shrinker Kit - 1968
Into the deepest jungle went Pressman Toymakers, looking for something new. The secret they brought back for you is incredible! The Pressman Witch Doctor Head Shrinker’s Kit! Plastic flesh, mixing cauldron, and petrifying potion. Just pour it into the mold and in minutes you can add monster hair! In 24 hours, the heads shrink. Shrunken heads for all occasions!
Stay Alive Game - 1971
Stay Alive is a strategy game, where 2-4 players try to keep their marbles from falling through holes in the game board while trying to make their opponents marbles fall through. It was originally published by Milton Bradley in 1971 and marketed in television and print advertising as "the ultimate survival game" featuring Vincent Price.
Remco Star Trek Toys - 1966
In the 1960s Remco produced a line of Star Trek toys when the series originally aired. The toys looked nothing like anything from the TV show. Quite blatantly, Remco simply took existing molds from other cheap toys and models and slapped "Star Trek" stickers on the side.
Rapco Bottle Cutter - 1968
One again our old friend Rapco is at it again. But instead of playing with molten lead, we get to cut glass. Wonders never cease. This was actually a knock-off of more expensive, high-quality bottle cutters that were popular in the 1970s when environmental concerns and recycling began catching on in the US. Upcycling bottles with sp[ecialty glass cutting tool is still popular today.
Troll Dolls - 1963
Troll dolls were originally created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam. Dam could not afford a Christmas gift for his young daughter Lila and carved the doll from his imagination. They became one of the United States' biggest toy fads from the autumn of 1963 to 1965.
Uncle Milton Ant Farm - 1956
In 1956 while at a Fourth of July picnic at his sister's pool, novelty toy-maker Milton Levine spotted a mound of ants. This inspired him to found Uncle Milton's Toys, which is best known for its Uncle Milton's Ant Farm. After recalling his collection of ants as a kid, he said, "We should make an antarium." The original ant farms were sold for $1.29 and were contained in a six by nine-inch ant farm. Business boomed after advertisements on after school programs prompted thousands of shipments a week. Levine thought of the name of the company by saying "Someone said that if I've got all these ants, then I must be the uncle."