10 toys every kid wanted in 1976
Stretch Armstrong, Cher and Muhammad Ali were the hot dolls forty years ago.
Toys come and go, and the brands and names may change, but one thing is certain: Kids love dolls, action figures and outer space. Forty years ago, Snoopy and Star Trek were household names, just as they remain today. You could say the same for Cher and Ken. However, there were also passing fads filling the toy store shelves in 1976, action figures for trendy television characters.
Here are 10 of the hottest toys that hit stores in the Bicentennial year.
1. The Cher Doll
Who had the power to outsell Barbie in '76? Super diva Cher, of course. Mego's posable, long-haired Cher was the best-selling doll of that year. Fashion designer Bob Mackie created the toy's wardrobe. Sunburn Sonny sold separately.
2. Stretch Armstrong
The hottest figure of '76 was undoubtedly Kenner's Stretch Armstrong, the rubbery blond muscle man in the black Speedo. Pumped full of corn syrup, the latex-skinned stud hit toy stores in the Bicentennial. The craze had died by the end of the decade, though his counterpart, Stretch Monster, came out in 1978.
Image: Kenner / YouTube
3. Bionic Woman Wrist Radio
The Bionic Woman made her television debut at the start of the year, and soon toy stores were filled with Bionic Woman everything. There was a doll, complete with outfits like demin pantsuit and tennis apparel; a Dome House; a Bionic Beauty and Repair Station; and this nifty wrist radio. What better way to listen to one-hit wonders like Starland Vocal Band? Take that, Apple!
4. Muhammad Ali Boxing Ring Set
Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots met rope-a-dope when the Greatest launched his Boxing Ring playset. As the fine print stated: Figures not included. Those awesome little Alis and Joe Fraziers would cost you more than the $17.99 retail price for the ring.
5. The Green Machine
Big Wheels and Hot Cycles were ubiquitous, but the Green Machine was a rare and cherished beast. Originally sold by Marx (and now manufactured by Huffy) this sweet, "low-slung" tyke trike swerved with stick steering on the rear wheels. Riding one felt like operating a futuristic cycle.
6. Now-Look Ken
Ken's stiff blond locks got a very of-the-era upgrade with this brunette "dry look." That blow-out perfectly matched his camel-colored leisure suit.
7. Star Trek Phaser Battle Game
Though the series was a decade old, and though a big-screen return was still a few years off, Star Trek continued to sell. And for quite a cost. The asking price of $49.88 (about $200 in today's cash) was rather steep for zapping red silhouettes of Klingon ships. The game play was not unlike the field vision tests at your optomistrist.
8. Snoopy Scooter Shooter
Evel Knievel was cool, and his stunt bike was the hot toy of the early '70s, but did that daredevil have a cute bird as his co-pilot? Nope. After launching a few Snoopys off the ramp, you were probably hungry for a Snoopy Sno-Cone from the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine. Though that toy was not introduced until 1979.
9. J. J. Arms
Now here is a hard one to explain to younger generations. J. J. Arms was (and still is) a real-life private detective with metal hooks for hands. The amputee appeared on television and earned his own toy line. The '70s were wonderfully eclectic.
10. Fairchild Channel F
Before Nintendo, before Atari, before them all, there was Fairchild's Channel F "Video Entertainment System." This home gaming console was the first cartridge-based system offered to the American public. When Atari launched the following year, Fairchild renamed its machine. In 1976, this TV arcade would set you back $149.95, with the "video-carts" running an extra $19.95 each. Dropping nearly a grand for some virtual backgammon seems rather insane today.