Monday, June 13, 2011

Seriously Strange 90s Children’s Games

As kids, most of us accepted children’s games at the face value at which their producers marketed them to us. It was rare that we would question the validity or normalcy of the games we saw advertised on TV. The catchy jingles encouraged us to beg our parents to buy them for us, and that was that.

Adult hindsight, however, tells a different story. More careful inspection of some of our most coveted highly-advertised games leads us to question the sanity of the people who produced them. There are more than enough crazy toys to mine several posts worth of material, so in this case, I’m just going to focus on the inane board games that by some miracle of bad judgment were green-lighted by R&D into full-scale production:

Grape Escape

I blame my adult love affair with wine with the subliminal messages garnered from endless hours of playing “Grape Escape” All that grape crushing was bound to latently inspire me somehow.The idea of Grape Escape involved constructing play-doh grapes and navigating them around a dangerous game board full of grape-splatting dangers and obstacles. The worst part was our little grapes had faces, so as soon as we’d grown attached to the anthropomorphic little fruit morsels, we had to bear the guilt and responsibility of smushing them with a steam roller.

Gooey Louie

Who exactly was buying this game for their children? When faced with a shelf full of wholesome and sometimes educational game, what kind of adult thinks, “Hey, we should get the nose-picking one!” I’m going to pin the purchases of this game on the so-called “fun uncles.” I can’t imagine many parents being incredibly enthusiastic to shell out $14.99 for their child to pull fake boogers out of a giant face.

Crocodile Dentist

Perhaps a regular game of human dentistry wasn’t quite exciting enough to warrant its own game (let’s face it, it’s no “Operation.”) Someone must have been pitching their dental work game pretty hard when someone around the brainstorm table said, “Hey, let’s make it a crocodile!” I can only imagine everyone else voiced their assent that crocodile dentistry was indeed more interesting than a regular cleaning and checkup and called it a day.

Mr. Bucket

If nothing else, this one deserves a spot on the list for its questionably PG-13 rated commercials. Did no one at Milton Bradley think it may be a potentially bad idea for Mr. Bucket to introduce himself and immediately bring up the balls that come out of his mouth? Seriously, Mr. Bucket, at least buy us a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal or something.

Potentially lewd commercial aside, this game is clearly a ploy by adults to exhaust children using tedious, repetitive tasks. You put balls in the bucket, the bucket pops out the balls, you put the balls back in the bucket...well, you get the idea.


Has no one ever heard of calling an exterminator? At the very least investing in one of those 25 cent traps from Home Depot. This whole setup seems like a needlessly complicated means of going after a single mouse in the house. When I see a mouse, I never think, “Hey, I should take everything in my house that’s not bolted down, create an elaborate marble maze involving plastic cheese, bathtubs, and falling baskets, and spend several hours waiting for the moon to be in the seventh house and for Jupiter to align to with Mars so the conditions will be auspicious for mouse trapping.” Well, now I might think of it, now that it’s all written out like that. But I’m still not going to do it.

Don’t Wake Daddy

In theory this one makes more sense than several of the other games on this list. The object of the game is to not awaken the snoring plastic father while trying to sneak to the kitchen to fix yourself a midnight snack. I can’t say for sure, but was this perhaps one of those extreme anti-obesity households where they secure the cupboards with padlocks at night?

Whatever the reason for the stealthy snack operation, the means of trying not to wake Daddy are certainly questionable. If you land on a space that indicates you must make a noise, you have to pound Daddy’s alarm clock repeatedly. Now I’m not a sleep expert, but I have to imagine that setting and continually re-setting an alarm clock is not the best way to ensure someone stays asleep.

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