Total Nerd
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'90s Toys Whose Commercials Were Way Better Than The Real Thing

Updated July 10, 2019 7.6k votes 1.4k voters 89.7k views14 items

List RulesVote up the toys with the most misleadingly awesome commercials.

There’s no greater form of entertainment than '90s toy commercials. These ads shocked and astounded and tantalized their young target demographics, offering kids from coast to coast the dream that they, too, could spray their foes in the face with water using only the sound of their voice. Or that a simple game night with a friend could turn into a futuristic battlefield complete with hoverboard fighting.

Of course, toy commercials from the '90s oversold their products to a ridiculous extreme. Every Saturday morning ad made it seem like the plaything in question was the most awesome, radical piece of merchandise ever created. The toys sold in '90s commercials could make you cool and popular and grown-up... and when you actually bought them, all those promises came crashing down.

  • 5


    What Was Promised: Hours of rude, crude, globule fun that not only grossed out your parents and teachers, but was also easy to play with and not messy at all. Gak was like putty but goopier - and, most importantly, it offered the promise of fart sounds.

    What Was Delivered: Kids whose parents bought them a carton of Gak got a huge goopy mess that was hard to play with and even harder to clean up. Getting Gak to do anything other than stretch out and bubble up was tough. To make matters worse, if it was left out of its container too long, it dried up and became even more useless.

    Did this awesome ad sell a vicious lie?
  • 6

    The Ricochet

     The Ricochet
    Photo: Tonka / Fair Use

    What Was Promised: The Ricochet sold in the TV ad was a four-wheeled RC car that flips and bounces all over the place. Users were supposedly able to drive it off small embankments - and the toy would keep rolling no matter the position in which it fell.

    What Was Delivered: Kids who drove this RC at breakneck speed discovered the car wasn't as unbreakable as it seemed. If you bought the car, you also had to buy a separate battery pack, and there was no guarantee the whole thing wouldn't smash into a million pieces.

    Did this awesome ad sell a vicious lie?
  • 7

    Cool Tools

    Cool Tools
    Photo: Tonka / Fair Use

    What What Promised: In the Cool Tools commercial, a group of kids are given a set of miniature tools that look and feel just like the set Dad uses. The toy tools allow the kids to help out with home projects - just what every kid wants.

    What Was Delivered: In actuality, Cool Tools were just small facsimiles of actual tools. There wasn't much the "tools" could actually do. They could bonk stuff and mess with screws, but as far as accomplishing anything around the house, they were useless.

    Did this awesome ad sell a vicious lie?
  • 8

    The Deluxe Talkboy

    What Was Promised: A real-life voice recorder that could be used to trick your friends and loved ones into thinking they were hearing what they weren’t. A tie-in to Home Alone II: Lost In New York, this toy's commercial promised users they could manipulate their voices to sound like parents and siblings.

    What Was Delivered: The Talkboy performed its noble duty as a tape recorder, but it simply played recordings back at various speeds, fooling no one.

    Did this awesome ad sell a vicious lie?