Never mind the loom groups… 36 playground follies from the 1980s and 1990s

If you’re a Scottish kid right now, chances are you love – or know someone who loves – loom bands.

They’re the latest playground craze to hit the country, with kids in our schools twisting the tiny rubber bands into everything from friendship bracelets to models of their favorite cartoon characters.

However, the playground crazes of the 1980s and 1990s were, of course, much cooler and more interesting with things like conkers or snog togs proving to be hits before the words trending or viral were used to spread such things. They relied on word of mouth.

Below is our comprehensive list of the best playground follies from the day of yore.

1. Slap Bands

They were bracelets that were “snapped” around someone’s wrist.

And of course in Scotland you would do it as hard as possible to cause as much pain as legally allowed during school time.

2. Friendship Bracelets

The cause of so many falls.

You made one for Vicky and Laura, but, if you’re being honest, you wouldn’t mind making one for Sarah too.

Quite the craftsman you were in your prime though.

3. Dummy collars

Lollipops were usually electric blue or strawberry in color, but you could often get them in all shapes and sizes.

There was also an urban Glasgow myth that if you sucked on them long enough they contained drugs.

The reality was that they came from nightclubs and were supposed to prevent so-called gnashing of teeth when on ecstasy.

A very appropriate playground trend then…

Very quickly banned from most playgrounds unfortunately the current equivalent of squid games

4. Tamagotchis

Banned in many Scottish schools, the Tamagotchi was a portable digital pet that you “cared for” by feeding, cleaning and playing with it.

You found yourself with a gaping hole in your life once your pet died.

For at least five minutes.

The Tamagotchi were so carefully cared for – and you were gutted when they died…for five minutes.

5. S**g bands

A very appropriate Scottish trend. Break one and there were disastrous consequences.

They were known by the gummy bands elsewhere in the country. There were other variations in names depending on what part of the country you were from.

We don’t know what that says about our part of the country…

6. Spokey Dokes

Coming in every color of the rainbow, you’d cram as many of them as possible onto the spokes of your bike. When peddling very slowly, the marbles would slide up and down the radius, causing noise. How exciting, we’re not sure anymore.

7. Bread tags (to go on the spokes of the bike)

A cheaper variant of the above. Children would beg for them from neighbors, people who lived on the street, people who lived in your housing estate… A little dangerous when you think about it. Simpler times.

8. Pogs

A resolutely playground trend. But how did you play them exactly? We are still confused.

Troll dolls were both terrifying and cute
Troll dolls were both terrifying and cute

9. Trolls

It was the girls who filled their rooms with these naughty dolls who, at the time, looked incredibly cute with their bushy hair.

There was a hierarchy, however, with the “Dam” trolls being deemed superior to the more widespread “Russ” trolls.

Troll dolls were collected from their thousands of Scottish children across the country.

10. Kids Garbage Bucket

A series of trading cards originally released in 1985, each sticker card featured a Garbage Pail Kid character with some sort of comical anomaly or deformity.

Politically correct, as you can see.

11. Top Assets

The playground game of choice for smart kids. They sat reasonably while the rest of us played another playground classic All Pile On.

12. Monster finger puppets

Little rubbery monster puppets. That’s all.

Don't make me push a push pop!
Don’t make me push a push pop!

13. Push Pops / Ring Pops

“Don’t push me, push a Push Pop.” Let’s not forget that.

14. Fun Fax

Why we needed a Filofax newspaper as thick as a Wall Street banker, we’re not sure. But we did – and they were great.

15. Mood Rings

Mysterious and spooky, those who wore them were most likely to have a goth phase in high school.

Often bought to predict who your friend liked, but sometimes just to predict your current mood. Made.

Conkers was both fun and dangerous, a perfect playground craze
Conkers was both fun and dangerous, a perfect playground craze

16. Conkers

A Scottish playground classic, but be careful not to break a knuckle or a finger.

Cover them with nail polish or soak them in vinegar.

This playground trend will never die…oh wait.

17. Silly Putty or Gak

It was the gunge decade so of course we all went crazy for this slime.

You could make him make rude noises and that’s all that mattered.

18. Skip sound

Either you had a “real” one, bought from Toys R Us in Govan, or a fake one from your dad’s buddy who could get just about anything.

The chic kids were pretty smug if you had the plastic version with the counter – until it smashed against a sidewalk. . .

Then they would come and climb after ours. It will teach them.

19. Monster in my Pocket

Small monster figurines. The boys picked them up and lined them up, yawning.

An elite collectible tier, you'd be a playground god if you had a full team
An elite collectible tier, you’d be a playground god if you had a full team

20. Corinthian figures football figures

Mark Viduka, Jorge Albertz, Larsson, Klos: collect them all.

Corinthian football figures were an elite tier of schoolboy playground bragging rights.

21. Slammers

Would they stand up to today’s safety standards? Probably not. But we loved these.

They made a snapping noise when you skillfully swung them.

22. Tazos

A variation on Pogs… we think?

23. Babies

Ahh. A baby girl’s first introduction to motherhood. These were cute usually bought with the day’s dinner money, of course.

24. Alien Birth Pods

Aliens – check. Slime – check. Guaranteed playground success.

These are probably the fads most likely to make a comeback
These are probably the fads most likely to make a comeback

25. Pokemon

Like Pog and Tazo, we believe.

26. Koosh Balls

A toy ball made of rubber strings attached to a soft rubber core. A harmless toy you think? Not for Scottish schoolboys who quickly turned them into a very effective weapon.

27. Pop Sample

You can take out your watch and swap it with a friend. But your friend’s wasn’t as good, and then you were stuck with it.

28. Laser Pens

Quickly banned in most schools in Scotland, it was usually the tough kids who sported their key fobs and used them to blind themselves.

29. Plastic poppers

Flip them over and the anticipation would build before they leap into the air. An excitement like no other.

Beanie babies now live, for the most part, in your mom and dad's attic
Beanie babies now live, for the most part, in your mom and dad’s attic

30. Baby beanies

Young and old alike have enjoyed this trend, stuffed animals filled with plastic pellets or “beans”. Many special editions. Much loved and cared for until they were pushed into a loft in a bag, where they still exist today.

Beanie babies now mostly live in the attic.

31. Slinky

A source that would come down the stairs. Fantastic until your little brother or sister tangled them up – and they would never be the same again.

32. Yo-yo

No playground craze list would be complete without mentioning yo-yos. We loved them – and in Scotland it was the Coca-Cola ones we had gone crazy for. If you mastered “walking the dog”, you were destined for great things.

"Did you get a shiney?"
“Did you get a shiney?”

33. Panini Stickers

“I, I, I need.”

Stickers: “I have, I have, I need.”

34. Cornflake Rooster Reflectors

Cereal box toys! Remember these? Children today are truly helpless.

You would put as many as you could on the spokes of your bike.

35. Game Boy

In Scotland we couldn’t bring them to school – unless of course it was the last day of term and then you could show up with your Gameboy and all the related paraphernalia…until you noticed everyone gathering around the pig with the Game Gear.

These colored balls were both extremely hard and easy to lose
These colored balls were both extremely hard and easy to lose

36. Marbles

A choking hazard if we ever saw one, marbles were a trend that made a comeback time and time again.

There were your standard bog cat’s eye marbles – ten a penny they were.

We don’t remember how you earned them from each other, but you’re sure the school bully stole your rarest.

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Harold B. McConnell