Ask any ’90s kid and they will tell you: the ’90s were chockfull of great toys. From the dead eyed Furby, to the totally radical Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to the righteous Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, there were plenty of awesome toys competing for ’90s kids’ attention. But the ’90s weren’t just defined by the big name toys that left kids yelling “Cool beans!” No, the ’90s had plenty of tubular, wicked, downright phat smaller toy lines that you have totally forgotten about!
From toy lines based on quickly forgotten cartoons to those that were just too weird to compete with the TMNT, ’90s toy shelves saw them all. With ’90s nostalgia in full swing, plenty of 20-somethings spend their days reminiscing over Pogs and Tamagotchis. But not every ’90s toy line was lucky enough to be a massive smash like the Tickle Me Elmo; in fact, many ’90s lines faded into obscurity. But CBR is here to remind you of all the ’90s toy lines that you have totally forgotten about! So pop a Surge, throw on your Gin Blossoms mix tape, and don your best pair of Jnco jeans as CBR takes you on a walk down ’90s memory lane!
15. TRASH BAG BUNCH
These days, there is no hipper, with-it toy format then that of the blind box vinyl figure. As companies like Kid Robot churn out hundreds of tiny collectible vinyl toys, hidden away in sealed packages, collectors drop big bucks to obtain these highly sought after figures. But back in the ’90s, the idea of buying a toy without really knowing what you would get was a novelty that companies had yet to fully embrace. But at least one toy line had no problem hiding its contents; in fact, it was the line’s entire gimmick. We’re referring to the Trash Bag Bunch.
These little plastic monsters were packaged in tiny trash bags, ensuring that the buyer never knew just who they were getting. But once the bag was submerged in water, the packaging would dissolve, revealing the toy inside. The gimmick was fun, and the Trash Bag Bunch had plenty of fans, but the line wasn’t a runaway success, leading to this toy line fading into obscurity.
14. POOCH PATROL
Having a stuffed animal is great and all, but when it comes time to scare away the monster in the closet, that dopey smiling stuffed koala isn’t going to be much help. But what about a stuffed animal that could transform from friendly to scary with a quick switch? This was the shtick behind the Pooch Patrol, allowing kids to have a cuddle buddy and a vicious protector, all in one handy dandy toy.
The Pooch Patrol look like typical cute stuffed dogs, but by flipping up the dog’s top lip and changing the toy’s eyebrows, the animal went from “friendly to fearless,” as the commercials claimed. Apparently, there wasn’t a huge demand for a stuffed animal that could also look angry, leading to the Pooch Patrol getting only a single run of toys.
13. THE MIGHTY DUCKS
When Disney released The Mighty Ducks in 1992, the movie was a runaway hit, pulling in over $50 million at the box office. Seeing the success of the film, and subsequent sequels, Disney decided to hop on the money train and create a tie-in Mighty Ducks cartoon. But how do you make a cartoon about a ragtag kid hockey team? Easy: you just take the name and create a show about alien anthropomorphic ducks that fight crime.
Sure, the logic behind the show made no sense, but Disney’s Mighty Ducks cartoon did well, with plenty of action figures and vehicles being released to cash-in on the brief success of the show. While plenty of kids have great memories of playing with action figures of Wildwing Flashblade and Duke L’Orange, the show and toys weren’t as big as the movies they were derived from, leading to this toy line being largely forgotten.
12. BETTY SPAGHETTY
Long before Bratz, way before the world had even heard of Monster High, when kids wanted a fun, funky doll to play with, there was Betty Spaghetty. Debuting in 1998, the Betty Spaghetty line featured rubber extremities and hair, allowing kids to pose and style Betty and her pals however they pleased. If kids grew tired of the look of their Betty Spaghetty toy, they could easily swap out their hands and feet with fashionable new clothes.
While Betty Spaghetty ruled the young girl’s toy market with a rubber fist for a time, the line was eventually discontinued in 2004, only to be relaunched in 2016. While it remains to be seen if kids will flock to Betty Spaghetty like they did in the ’90s, this bendy toy will always have plenty of fans.
11. MIGHTY MAX
When it came to girl-oriented toys with pieces that were super tiny and incredibly easy to lose, there was no toy line bigger than Polly Pocket. Wanting to translate the success with Polly Pocket into the lucrative boy-oriented toy market, the world was introduced to Mighty Max.
Like Polly Pocket, the Mighty Max toy line revolved around handheld play sets which could be opened to reveal exotic locales that the accompanying teeny tiny figures could be placed within. With an accompanying cartoon series that had its own limited success, the Mighty Max toy line was a veritable cash cow, spawning dozens of play sets from 1992 to 1996. Despite its popularity at the time, Mighty Max is largely forgotten these days, becoming yet another obscure ’90s toy line.
10. MUMMIES ALIVE!
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were red hot in the ’90s, leading to every toy company under the sun scrambling to find the next big “weird characters fight crime” hit. One such attempt was DIC Entertainment’s Mummies Alive!, which followed a heroic group of mummies as they fight an evil sorcerer in ’90s-era San Francisco. Banking on the cartoon’s success, Hasbro produced a line of tie-in action figures.
Released in 1997, the Mummies Alive! toy line brought kids action figures of characters such as Armon and Nefer-Tina. Vehicles were released to coincide with the figures, bearing names like the “Hot-Ra” and the “Sky-Cophagus.” Unfortunately, Mummies Alive! wasn’t quite the hit DIC hoped for, leading to the series, and toy line, being canceled, causing this series to slip into obscurity.
It’s a time-tested formula: take an animal, make it x-treme, form a team of them, and make them fight crime. It worked for the Turtles, it worked for knock-offs like the Street Sharks, but it didn’t quite work for the Cyboars. Released in 1997, the Cyboars were a group of pig-like alien warriors that found themselves locked in battle with the villainous Bionic Bulls for the fate of the galaxy.
Of course the team was composed of various totally tubular characters with names like “Hog Kong” and “Rabid Fire,” fighting baddies with also suitably tubular names like “Cannonbull” and “Big Horn.” The toy line and accompanying comic failed to make a splash, leading to the Cyboars being shelved. Maybe they were too… boar-ing? We’ll see ourselves out.
8. BUCKY O’HARE
And the “anthropomorphic animals fighting evil” trend continues! To Bucky O’Hare’s credit, the franchise was less of a TMNT rip-off and more of a “Looney Tunes meets Star Wars” kind of thing, which helped this series to stand out when Bucky made the jump from comics to TV in 1991.
Entitled Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars, the cartoon followed the fearless space rabbit as he battled the insidious Toad Empire with the assistance of his ragtag crew. The show was a moderate success, spawning an arcade beat-’em-up and an accompanying toy line, allowing fans of the series to play with toys of fan favorite characters such as Bucky, Jenny and Deadeye Duck. Unfortunately, success was short lived, and the cartoon was canceled after a single 13-episode season, leaving the toy line to linger in obscurity.
7. JAMES BOND JR.
James Bond is great and all, but you know what this popular franchise was missing? A plucky teen protagonist. At least, this was the logic behind James Bond Jr., a short lived cartoon following the adventures of 007’s nephew, the titular James Bond Jr. Clearly expecting this oddball series to make a splash, a toy line was released to coincide with the cartoon.
Hitting shelves in 1991, the James Bond Jr. toy line introduced fans to more kid-friendly versions of famous Bond villains such as Jaws and Odd Job, while also introducing new characters such as Captain Walker D. Plank and Dr. Derange. Despite a strong marketing push, the cartoon and toy line were met with general apathy, causing James Bond Jr. to become just another forgotten ’90s toy line.
6. WILD WEST C.O.W.-BOYS OF MOO MESA
While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the unquestionable kings of the action figures in the ’90s, there were plenty that tried, and failed, to take that title. In 1992, a former TMNT artist took a crack at creating his own TMNT-esque creation: The Wild West C.O.W.-Boys Of Moo Mesa.
Following the adventures of Marshal Moo Montana, the Dakota Dude and the Cowlorado Kid in the Wild West, the cartoon spawned a cult classic arcade game and accompanying toy line, allowing fans to play with plastic versions of heroes like Buffalo Bill and bad guys like Skull Duggery. Unfortunately, the C.O.W.-Boys didn’t make quite the same impact as the Turtles, leading to the cartoon being canceled after two seasons, with the toy line following shortly after.
5. EXTREME DINOSAURS
In the wake of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, plenty of cartoons sprang into being following the adventures of x-treme animals as they fought the forces of evil. While shows like the Street Sharks and the Wild West C.O.W.-Boys Of Moo Mesa gained cult followings, plenty of these TMNT derivatives weren’t quite so lucky. Case in point: the Extreme Dinosaurs.
Spinning off from the popular Street Sharks, Extreme Dinosaurs followed a group of suitably extreme dinosaurs as they battle the evil Raptors. Toys were released to coincide with the cartoon, with rubbery Street Sharks-esque figures hitting shelves, allowing children to play with toys of characters such as Stegz, Hard Rock and Bad Rap. Unfortunately, the Extreme Dinosaurs cartoon was canned after a single season, with the Extreme Dinosaurs toy line following in the cartoons’ wake.
4. SKELETON WARRIORS
Kids love warrior characters. Kids are terrified of skeletons. So it only seemed natural that a series would be created in which the valiant warriors of good do battle with an army of skeletons. While the name of the series won’t win any points for originality, Skeleton Warriors seemed poised for popularity when the series debuted in 1994.
With a cartoon airing on CBS, a coinciding toy line was launched, bringing with it plenty of warriors, skeletons and outrageous vehicles for the forces of good and evil to duke it out in. Toys of characters such as Prince Lightstar and Baron Dark cluttered the shelves, but kids just weren’t interested. Despite a strong advertising presence, Skeleton Warriors was canceled after a single season, leading the toys it spawned to languish in discount bins around the world.
3. NINJA TURTLES: THE NEXT MUTATION
By 1997, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise was struggling. The Turtles had once been the coolest toy line around, but kids had since moved onto the Power Rangers, leaving the TMNT scrambling to keep up. In an attempt to keep with the times, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation was created.
Ditching the cartoon and bringing the Turtles into the popular “men in rubber suits fight bad guys” genre, The Next Mutation was accompanied by a line of toys. While the TMNT had previously been a license to print money, The Next Mutation toy line sold poorly and failed to connect with kids. The Next Mutation was canceled after a meager single season, and the series’ toys went with it.
2. CAPTAIN SIMIAN AND THE SPACE MONKEYS
As toy companies fought to usurp the TMNT from their golden throne, just about every animal under the sun got the “rude and crude heroes fighting crime” treatment. Sharks, cows, boars, dinosaurs and dogs all got the TMNT treatment, so it wasn’t a huge shock when monkeys got the crime fighting hero shine in Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys
Debuting in 1996, Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys followed the adventures of the eponymous Captain Simian, an Earth monkey blasted into space in the ’60s that was scooped up by hyper advanced aliens and given enhanced intelligence. With his gang of monkey friends, Captain Simian battles the evil Lord Nebula for the fate of the universe. Toys tying into the cartoon brought kids plastic versions of Simian and his crew, along with plenty of vehicles to use. Sadly, Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys was canceled in 1997, and the accompanying toy line disappeared from shelves soon after.
1. STONE PROTECTORS
In the ’90s, everyone and their grandma was trying to churn out the next big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-style hit. While plenty of cartoons tried and failed to capture the success of the TMNT, only one of these shows is remembered for being totally and completely insane: Stone Protectors.
Spinning out of the mega popular Trolls dolls, the Stone Protectors turned the cuddly trolls into musclebound crime fighters that knew karate and played in a band. Even the most naive kid could see how manufactured and bizarre the Stone Protectors were, but this didn’t stop the show from netting itself a SNES beat-em-up and a toy line. The line featured the same flashing gem stone found in Troll dolls, but shoved into action figures of characters like Angus and Cornelius. The oddball cartoon was canceled after one season, leaving the plug to be pulled on the Stone Protectors toy line after just two series.
Which other obscure ’90s toy lines do you remember? Let us know in the comments!
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