Pocket Sized Playthings

The tiny toys that rarely left my pockets as a child.
November 19, 2009
Before we carried around cell phones, iPhones, and PDA's in our pockets or purses we may have carried around a few of our favorite toys instead. There are tons of tiny toys I personally took a shining to. Some came to school with me, while others kept me company on long boring errands with my parents. Some I had completely forgotten about until now. So without further ado...

Fuzzy Bears

I'm sure you all had one of these. Tiny plastic bears covered in velvety-stuff. They were cute, fuzzy, and fit in my pocket. Done!

Polly Pocket

Polly had a good run before they made her larger than pocket sized. I remember babysitting as a teenager and playing with the kids toys. I was like "Who is this little doll?" It was a 2-3 inch tall blonde thing with removable plastic clothes. "That's Polly Pocket!" the child responded. I didn't believe her. Polly was supposed to be tiny. That's why she's called Polly freaking POCKET! Anyway, loved this toy.


That's right, I said marbles. Got a problem? I don't know what I did with 'em but I know I had them on my person the majority of the time. I would find them on the playground and collect them in my desk at school. Apparently that would mean I'm not the only kid carrying around marbles in their pocket, right?

Koosh Balls

Fun to throw. Fun to touch. Fun to play with. Pretty much just fun. I found this a good toy to bring on a road trip. My parents liked it because it didn't make noise.

Littlest Pet Shop

Back before they made them look like Bratz dolls (don't even get me started) littlest pet shops were actually little. I had the hamster cage with two hamsters. There was "bedding" inside the cage...little colored confetti squares for them to make imaginary stools on. Oh, good times.

Water Snake

It is so plain to see the sexual innuendo of this toy now. Back then it was just good, clean, slippery fun. I remember one that I had brought along on a day of summer errands. It exploded in the car making a huge, wet, and glittery mess on the floorboards. Funny part was it was in my friends mom's car. I don't remember if she was mad or not...

Digital Pets

Maybe you had a Tamagotchi. Perhaps you went with Tiger's Giga Pet. You may even have gone for the more obscure Dinkie Dino (pictured above as RakuRaku DinoKun)...but be honest, you had one! My obsession started with the Dinkie Dino. I would stay up late, wake up early, and smuggle him into class just to keep him alive. I remember some kids at school made a business out of babysitting other kids virtual pets. What amazing little entrepreneurs these kids were. My Dino came to an early end when I accidentally dropped him into a lake. Next I went with the Digital Doggie and Compu Kitty. I never really got over Dinkie though.

McDonald's Happy Meal Toys

I'm gonna go ahead and lump these together. There were too many toys to mention, however the Bambi toys I remember specifically. They were always just the right size to secretly stash in your pocket for some serious play time. I used to have that box of transforming hotcakes. From the Teenie Beanie collection I had the Moose and Seal!

Pound Puppies (Mini)

I had a little tan and brown one named Chip. You know, like Chocolate Chip. I pretty much loved him and still think I have him somewhere.

Sanrio Erasers

Ok, so this may not actually qualify as a toy but they were really elaborate for erasers. You could technically play with them if you wanted to. Trading these between friends was a big deal in the 3rd and 4th grade. My friends had far superior collections compared to mine. Remember the plastic personalized eraser boxes? You could get them to write your name on it. It was like a little tackle box for erasers. You could even lock it up like it was some sort of valuable...


My dad always had a Duncan Butterfly yo-yo, and for the life of me I could not work it. First of all I was too short and had to stand on the edge of a bed or counter to even get it all the way unwound. Second - I just couldn't do it. So we opted for the training wheels yo-yo: The Yomega High Performance. It had little ball bearings that kept it stabilized or balanced or what have you. It is sitting next to me right now as I type this. If I picked it up today the only trick I could do is walk the dog. It's still a fun toy though.

Micro Machines

What's smaller than a Matchbox Car? Micro Machines! I actually had that first package pictured above and my favorite was the VW Bus. When I was a teenager I tried to convince my dad my first car should be a Bus. That idea was so emphatically shot down that the dream had died until recently. Anyway, great little pocket toy for chicks and dudes alike.
25 Cent Machine Toys

"MomdadcanIhaveaquarterpleeeeeease!?!? Oooh pretty please?!" Remember seeing that toy capsule machine at the grocery store filled with sticky hands, tattoos, and plastic rings and freaking the hell out? My parents never wanted me to have the sticky hand because it "left grease marks on the walls"...or ceiling. Whatever.

Kinder Surprise

So I'm pretty sure this will be a little more obscure for most of you because this is a candy/toy combo made mostly in Europe. Once a friend of my dad brought one home for me from Europe back in the day. This was long before Nestle came out with the Wonderball (mostly filled with hard candies, not toys) so the concept was new and amazing to me. Chocolate + toy = win. Sometimes the toys that came inside the little capsule needed assembly. Great entertainment if you ask me. Anyone know why these aren't available in the US? I want one.


Too obvious. If you were a child in the 90's you had some. They were everywhere, including inside cereal boxes. The problem is I didn't know anyone who actually played the stinkin' game. We all just bought POGS and traded them. My dad made me a custom "slammer" out of wood for Christmas one year. Reeeeaaaal cool dad.

Cat's Cradle (string toy)

You didn't really need an instruction book for this one, but I got one for my Birthday one year (the one depicted above) and carried that thing everywhere with me. My best friend and I thought we were pretty cool 'cause we could do the Eiffel Tower and Witch's Broom. We were gettin' a whole lotta attitude. Give me some yarn today and I could still whip out those bad boys. True story.

Sand Animals

These were kind of a big deal. They also made them as key chains, but I found that they broke easily enough just playing with them gently. If you got the slightest pinhole prick in the fabric your little sandy friend would slowly drain its lifeblood until it was nothing but a flat floppy shell of it's former self. Sand animals were mostly reptiles or aquatic life if I remember correctly. I know these guys are probably still around somewhere. Mine was a turtle.

Jacob's Ladder

This toy amused me for far longer than it should have. It clearly has hypnotic powers over it's user. I would spend 10-15 minutes just turning it over in my hand, listening to the wood pieces slap together, and watching it change before my eyes. It was an old school toy but I liked it.

Puppy Surprise

To put it quite simply, this toy is deranged. Why my parents let me have one is beyond me. Puppy Surprise just begs children to ask mom and dad where babies come from. Or, perhaps, it gives them the answer. Babies come from a stuffed dogs Velcro womb. I'm not so sure. It was ridiculous. I included it because I actually had a fondness for the little plastic headed infant pups. The mom's Velcro vagina however gave me the creeps.

Puppy In My Pocket

Little platic puppies. My friends had more of these than I did. They were still cute. I liked them very much.

Laser Pointer

Who didn't have one of these in middle or high school? Used for their intended purpose you could enhance your presentations at work...put in the wrong hands your neighbors will think they're being tracked by a sniper rifle and your little brother could go blind. Probably one of the most confiscated items by school teachers in the late 90's. Second only to the digital pets.

Balancing Bird

Pretty random, right? Not sure where I got this toy from. I think it might have been a "toy with a message" at Church. Mine was yellow and I remember twirling around my room with it balancing on the tip of my finger. I would set it on the edge of my dresser and balance it on other very odd things, like the tip of my nose. It was a simple pleasure I suppose.

Wire Toy

I don't remember what this thing is actually called, if it even has a real name at all. It bent and folded into 5 or 10 different shapes. After the novelty wore off I think I used it to hang my earrings on. Short story: I loved this thing in middle school. Fun toy to keep your hands busy and your mind a complete blank. I found this treasure at Claire's or Icing in the mall when I was in 8th grade.

Random Bonus Thing In My Pocket:
Lip Smackers Lip Gloss

I had Dr. Pepper. It was seriously addictive.

I believe that pocket sized toys and children will never be far apart, for children need to play and use their imaginations no matter what the situation. Tiny toys always felt more secretive and exciting for me, probably because the adults were too big for them.

On that note, I'm headed to the store to pick up some Lip Smacker's lip gloss and scour the net for where I can purchase a Kinder Surprise. It looks like I may need to go to Canada. Bummer.
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