Throwback Thursday: 50 toys and games Singaporeans grew up with

Some toys never get old, but for every Lego set, Transformer and Barbie doll, there are many others that have faded from our memories. We’ve reached deep into our dusty cupboards and pulled out 50 playthings that filled our early years with joy.

1. 9999 in 1 brick game

Photo: Video screengrab

More like one game with a couple of insignificant variations; probably the worst false advertising we’ve ever had to deal with!

2. Army men

Photo: Planet Retro

Tools for learning the art of war and painful stuff to step on. There were few things more thrilling than throwing the ones with parachutes off a balcony.

3. Balancing eagles

Photo: Ali Express

These birds were so impeccably balanced that we’re certain scientists use them in complex experiments.

4. Bestman balloons

Photo: Party Mama Shop

Ah, who can forget that smell.

5. Bomb bags

Photo: SKP

That feeling of the bag expanding once the bladder within had been ruptured brought out the daredevil in all of us.

6. Bungee balls

Photo: fishpond

How many times could you make it rebound to the ceiling with one throw?

7. Carrom

Photo: Masters Traditional Games

Get the baby powder!

8. Chapteh

Photo: The Straits Times

With all the fancy footwork we gained from chaptehs, it’s a wonder we aren’t better at football.

9. Digimon

Photo: Digimon Wiki 

After acquainting ourselves with digital pets, the next logical step was to pit them against each other in a battle to the death. At least we could cheat our way to an instant ‘Teddymon’ by repeatedly jamming a piece of plastic into the battery slot.

10. Fishing game

Photo: Aliexpress

No deep sea fishing trip can ever match up to the accomplishment of clearing the rotating pond of its clockwork fish.

11. Five stones

Photo: Intelligent Answers

Another game that goes back a generation or two. Singapore Infopedia has a helpful guide if you’ve forgotten the rules.

12. Flippin’ puppies

Photo: Retro Styler

Little wonders of engineering with adorable spindly legs.

13. Flying gliders

Photo: eBay

Three pieces of flimsy styrofoam + one piece of plastic = the miracle of flight.

14. Furbies


Photo: Express and Star

These fluffy critters walked a fine line between adorable and terrifying. Having to stick your finger into its mouth to “feed” it didn’t help matters.

15. Helicopter spin toys

Photo: Alibaba

Wind up the string and let ‘er rip!

16. Hot Wheels


Photo: Hot Wheels

Who could forget that legendary, gravity-defying loop track?

17. Hungry Hungry Hippos


Photo: Amazon

The classic gaming strategy – smash the controls until someone wins.

18. Knockoffs

Photo: Youtube

Transformers that turned into electrical appliances, Power Rangers with wrong colours and terrifying dolls were among the lowlights at heartland toy shops.

19. Kuti Kuti

Photo: Youtube

We must have been pretty bright to not think that these colourful pieces of plastic were edible.

20. Magna Doodle
[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fid”:”47943″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”400″,”style”:”display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”600″}}]]Photo: Danoah

There were few things more satisfying than clearing a mess of sketches with one fluid movement.

21. Magnets

Being able to move metal around through another surface was basically magic, until of course you dropped the magnet and it shattered into a million fragments.

22. Marbles

Photo: Retromash

Toys so timeless that even ghosts liked to play with them.

23. Masak masak sets

Photo: Izyandarling

With these miniature cooking sets, every girl could dream of frying eggs while they figured out what too do with confusingly large whole fruits.

24. Micro machines

Photo: Qpoop

If you valued accuracy and variety in your vehicles more than their ability to fly off ramps.

25. Mighty Max

Photo: eBay

If girls had Polly and her dream homes, boys had Max and his Doom Zones.

26. Modelling clay

Photo: Youtube

They sold this at school bookshops, but how many kids actually used it for legitimate projects?

27. Models

Photo: foudoushin

From World War II aircraft to Gundams and Italian sports cars.

28. Playful Penguin Race

Photo: Diapers

These days we get bored with games after 15 minutes, but this bunch of sliding penguins kept us mesmerized for hours on end.

29. Play-Doh

Photo: Moneysavingmom

Inedible spaghetti and ice-cream anyone?

30. Plywood puzzles

Photo: Gabriel Fernandez

Simple, except for having to try your best not to break the wrong piece of wood.

31. Polly Pocket

Photo: Socialphy

A bit of hope for every little girl that you could still live it up while crammed into a tiny apartment.

32. Pop Pop snappers

Photo: Sam’s Alfresco Coffee

The muffled crackling of these little packages was the closest thing to real pyrotechnics we could get (until it was banned too).

33. Puppy in my Pocket

Photo: Mlptp

Toy dogs AND candy bones?!

34. Sandcastle kits

Photo:  Aliexpress

Smoothing out the bumps with the rectangular trowel was particularly therapeutic.

35. Scribble pen

Photo:  Fun and Function

Back when a handheld vibrating device was innocent.

36. Slime

Photo: Nickolodean 

What a profitable idea this must’ve been; throw some goo into a bottle and let the kids figure out the rest.

37. Spring toys

Photo: Toyrific

Fun when you walked them down stairs, not so fun when you had to disentangle them.

38. Slot cars

Photo: Wikipedia

Fast and furious until the brush beneath the cars wore out like an old felt-tip pen.

39. Sparklers

Photo: Alamofireworks

A mainstay at parties and class barbecues, and the source of legends about naughty kids who scraped lots of the powder together, set it alight and blew their fingers off.

40. Spirograph

Photo: Mummyshymz

This magical stencil turned even the most sparingly talented kid into an artist.

41. Sticky hands

Photo: Made-in-China

Great for swinging about carelessly and sticking them to things until they picked up too much dust and lost their stickiness.

42. Suction arrow weapons

Photo: Ebay

With a bit of rubber and a glass surface, we could all be storybook heroes and villains.

43. Super soakers

Photo: Foamnation

Feeling pumped?

44. Tabletop basketball game

Photo: Aliexpress

Nuthin’ but net!

45. Tamiya cars

Photo: Aliexpress

Carrying around your own tool box made you feel like a grown up even if half the cars you built didn’t end up running at first.

46. Tamagotchi

Photo: Tamagotchi-universe

The first toy that made us feel for a jumble of LCD pixels also taught us many valuable life lessons — responsibility, patience and some dark stuff about mortality.

47. Trump cards

Playing a game that involved comparing then arbitrary statistics was pretty sophisticated stuff.

48. Wall crawlers

Photo: Ebay

Sticky toys given a badass ninja twist.

49. Waterful ring toss

Photo: Video screengrab

One of the most difficult games known to humankind.

50. Yoyos

Photo: Ebay

With ‘ProYos’, ‘Bumblebees’, ‘Hyper Russells’ and those complicated Bandai spinners with ball bearings and flashing lights, we rocked the baby, walked the dog and went around the world.

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