Do You Remember… Cheap Toys

I remember during small-kid-time when my mom used to drag me to Star Market in Kailua, to keep from being bored – I used to wander to the “toys” section.  That’s right, the supermarkets all had a small toy section – although most of them were birthday party favors and such.  But hey, when you’re small – toys are toys!


On a trip to Vegas, we stopped by a Dollar Tree store where I found a wall of dollar toys – a little better than the supermarket ones but they reminded me so much of the toys that I used to stare at and wished I could buy some.  My mom always knew where to find me.


See if you recall some of these toys.




















Let’s see – what else was there; Parachute men.  Super balls.  Jacks for the girls and plastic jewelry.  Plastic harmonica.  Soap bubbles.  Marbles.  Toy whistles.


What other toys do you remember wishing you could sneak in the wagon along with all the other groceries?

86 Responses to “Do You Remember… Cheap Toys”

  1. Hbh says:


    I don’t know about you uncle. But what happened to some of the local places to me is kind of an insult. For Christ sakes a McDonald’s and parking lots? Auwe!

  2. Hbh says:

    I hope the blog is still going?

  3. walter says:

    Everytime I look at that hideous building located where the old Toyo Theatre was I go grrrrrr! What a loss. I hope the old Palama Theatre farther ewa on North King street before Tamashiro Market fairs better. To Mark: I used to have a larger plastic pin ball with dinosaur pictures that used white marbles. That was fun. Thanks, for the jolt.

  4. Hbh says:


    RE: Movie Houses.

    I agree with you 100% but also I mean jeez places like the Toyo with the Japanese theatre theme inside and out was just an experience and show in itself.

  5. Hbh says:

    @seawalker or anyone

    I’m going to test your memory. In the 1970s before remolding of the international market place happened. I remember a small part of the market place that had a shop with Japanese rice paper screen walls and flat wooden Asian walkways that went over the water and loo fish pond. I remember it because at night when the lanterns were lit. The area was gorgeous. Does anyone remember this? Do you remember the name of the shop?

    Sorry I’m not trying to hijack the blog. I just hate memories that are incomplete.

  6. Mark'75 says:

    @walter: I remember that face puzzle. I reminds me of hand-held plastic pinball machines, where you try to land BBs into certain numbers. Didn’t quite work well, since every time you pulled the lever to shoot out a BB, all the BBs jumped around. Pretty much just ended up shaking the pinball machine around to get the high score! LOL

  7. walter says:

    I still have one but it’s not that old as they still make them but the quality isn’t as good. I remember how frustrating they could be. Had one with numbers and one with pictures. Fun stuff. How about the circle container with a picture of a face and the hollow eye balls where you try to maneuver small beads into them. Had one with golf course holes I think but actually any image with a hole that could contain the bead. Thanks for remembering.

  8. Mark'75 says:

    I remember a flat, square-shaped puzzle that had numbered squares or tiles, with one open space, that you had to slide around to get into numerical order. Sometimes was so frustrating, I wanted to pry the squares off and then arrange them! LOL

  9. Mark'75 says:

    Pretty neat tricks with a gyroscope I never knew about:

  10. Mark'75 says:

    I can’t remember the bank (we didn’t have an account there) but they gave out “Magic Decoder” rings to kids. Pioneer Federal, Territorial, Bank of Hawaii? or something like that. Anyway, I always thought they must be something special. Anyone remember those?

  11. Shoyu burner says:

    Summer time reminds me of the” Water Wiggle”, it was fun but a little dangerous when you turn on the hose too much!

  12. walter says:

    But then again those old animated concession ads were fun like the one shown in the movie Grease while Travolta is singing the lament ‘Sandy’. I remember similar at the Consolidated Drive Ins just as I remember burning the roof of my mouth with a first bite of their pizzas.

  13. walter says:

    I remember when the theatres had curtains that would open and close for the previews and reopen when the feature began–just like in vaudeville days. Was kinda boring waiting but then not as obnoxious as all the junk they show nowadays before the feature as if every millisecond has to be an in your face pitch to see or sell something. I prefer a more mellow experience.

  14. Hbh says:


    RE: Heard Howie Hughes Corp have plans to re-do the Ward Theatres. About time. In our days, the movie theaters was where the boys met the girls. There was no comparison when you held hands with the one you liked from start to end of the movie. It was special. It was even magical. You let the darkness of the movie theatre do all the talking for you. Nothing beats old-fashioned love, nada…

    Again if you look at things on the surface. A movie house is a movie house. But if you look deeper every theater of our past had its own unique spirit or experience. Some of my best memories are from the old, poor neighborhood movie houses of oahu that had character. Again it’s not that today things suck or that we live in the past. It’s just our values as a society,people are different today. I really don’t hate big money, ambition or even corporate movie chains. I just hate how today it doesn’t matter where you go the big corporate movie houses spirit and experience are the same. I seek out the small neighborhood movie houses first. Places like the liberty, Waikiki 3, kuhio, Hawaii and Toyo. Each place unique.

    I do envy you seawalker and others. You guys completely grew up on island. So many unique experiences you had I never had. In so many ways I’m still haole lol

  15. Seawalker says:

    If my memories hold true, I remember them bubble soaps that came with a tiny plastic or metal ring to blow bubbles. Colorful bottles. Funny what we would do when the bottle of bubble soap ran out. We’d go to the dish soap in the sink and, presto, instant refill. We’d spend hours on end catching the floating bubbles in the air with the plastic ring. Sometimes, when you blew at the ring ever so slowly, you created these monster-size bubbles. Man, what little things that you recall. But that’s okay. Nothing wrong with taking a stoll down memory lane every so often. 😀

  16. Seawalker says:

    @Hbh – Heard Howie Hughes Corp have plans to re-do the Ward Theatres. About time. In our days, the movie theaters was where the boys met the girls. There was no comparison when you held hands with the one you liked from start to end of the movie. It was special. It was even magical. You let the darkness of the movie theatre do all the talking for you. Nothing beats old-fashioned love, nada…

  17. Seawalker says:

    @dihudfan – that’s the buggah for da kite. We’d look for a small branch and used that as the bow for the kite. Amazing, such low-tech ingenuity from a simple-minded bunch of knit-wits. But the folder paper kite would soar like mad. Mom liked to sew. So we could cock-a-roach any thread that was laying around. Only bad part was the trees where we lived. When your thread got tangled up with the trees, it was like Kentucky Wildcat basketball–one and done.

  18. dihudfan says:

    @seawalker… made our kites with strip of bamboo and newspapah, using rice as paste, rags torn into long strips for the tail… worked really well, and aftah you get tired, just let it go…

  19. 4G says:

    I could never get my Slinky to go down more than one or two steps – not anywhere near what the commercials portrayed. 🙁

  20. old school says:

    I’m dating myself, but we used to play with milk covers, those paper tabs that topped milk bottles (think: pogs). Your oppoent would lay one of his milk covers on the ground, and you’d try to hit it with one of yours. The object was to flip over the milk cover; if you did so it was yours,
    Re: International Marketplace. No more Dukes, no more Tiki’s, no more fun.

  21. Rodney says:

    @KauaiMidwestGirl – Aloha, and welcome to the MLC blog. Yes, It was a Star Market at the Kam Shopping Center. But it’s now a Times. So you were right either way. LOL Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

  22. Seawalker says:

    @1oldfut – I think it was called Moonlight. Pretty sure. Those bast@rds, you could never sharpen them. Thus, only good for pencil fights. Mongols? One haole called me a Mongoloid one time. Couldn’t say nuthin’ back because I didn’t know what the h3ll the word, Mongoloid meant at that time. LOL

  23. Seawalker says:

    I swear on my ball-chan’s grave. We made our own kites with 2 pieces of folder paper and a spool of thread. One sheet of folder paper was used for the body of the kite. The other sheet was used for the tail by tearing it into strips. The thread would be in the same configuration as a normal kite. Back in the days, it had mostly trade winds. So the wind took your homemade kite super high. On Kona wind days, when the air stank of sick pineapple, then you had trouble with the kite liftoff. Had to do the buck-a-loose technique to get that puppy into the air. Ahh… thanks for the memories!

  24. walter says:

    I often wondered what would have happened if you left a kite flying overnight. Most times nothing if the same wind prevailed. Although our parents would have given us some urban legend or something. But now we know. Thanks, losthawaiian. Did you ever put messages on the string–pieces of paper that the wind would push up all the way to the kite?

  25. losthawaiian says:

    Anybody ever fly a kite using a rod and reel? I tied my 20lb test line to a kite and flew it around Kailua. I even left it flying over night. I was amazed it was still flying the next morning.

  26. KauaiMidwestGirl says:

    I remember going to Star market (or was it Times?) and Longs at Kam Shopping Center in Kalihi early 70s…i always whined about getting a toy every time we went, which I think was weekly. Once in a great while I was allowed to select something and it was either a set of jacks with a ball or a water gun. Good memories!!

  27. walter says:

    Pencil fights and football with the folder paper fold up triangle ball to be ‘kicked’ with the fingers through a goal made of two inverted hands. Played this even in high school.

  28. 1oldfut says:

    Was the pencil called “Mongol”? Gosh, now my memory’s on a loop.

  29. walter says:

    Slinkies were fun but don’t get it tangled or it’s a goner–been there, done that. And yes kites during kite season wow. The straw and the plastic goop in a tube was simply called Plastic Balloons. When blown they looked more like bubbles or portugese man of war bubbles with out the sting. And re: Etch a Sketch–I had one for the longest time when I finally cracked it open only to find broken glass or was it plastic?, gray powder and two connecting rods attached to a metal stylus. It was fun but the commercials were a bunch of bull as far a creating images with curved lines etc. Talk about misleading. Still you could do some neat things if you were patient enough.

  30. 1oldfut says:

    -Moonlight?-I forget what the pencil brands were already. Anybody know? I forgot about pulling out the eraser! I vaguely remember biting the metal part to get some kind of advantage over your opponent. Then gotta use that junky pink eraser for school work, or if you were lucky, you had those Japanese ones that smelled good and erased perfectly with no pink color residue.
    -Baseball cards YES! Buying packs at Jimmy’s Market, junky gum, lean ’em against the wall, trying to straighten the corners out after, cheaters that taped two together, rushing before the bell rings…

  31. Hbh says:

    Viewfinder, it wasn’t cheap but the disks were. You could travel the world.

    I must of lost dozens of those small superballs.

  32. Hbh says:

    You can kinda call them toys. I loved the pop-up books sold at the Honolulu book store. Especially Mazinger ones

  33. walter says:

    I had lots of fun with those cheap toys in the supermarkets and discount places. I still look at them every now and then, and some of the toys are kind of the same. Several weeks ago I was playing with a cheap kaleidoscope at Longs Windward City. I wanted to buy it but it was pushing ten bucks and I was in a rush so no sale. I still want it as I’m going to take it apart and put my own glass pieces into it if I don’t break it. Used to love peering through the thing as a kid. It’s available on Amazon.

    Other toys–green army men about 3 inches and the mini ones about an inch that came in a box but I think those were available more at a regular toy store. Metal tootsietoy cars; balloons like those long skinny ones that Professor fun used to create with; yo yos, silly putty, shiny silver sheriffs badges and guns, caps, colorful rubber balls with stars all over, jacks, blinkie toys; marbles in a net bag (still have all my marbles uh–in more ways than one; small painted jungle animals; and in large metal cages those plastic bouncing balls the size of volley ball. And remember the big rubber balls with the short leash that you could bounce them from your hand (forgot what they called them). They made a strange hollow sound when bounced. And those plastic jumping beans with the magnet inside that made them wobble and those gray cardboard backed pads with a thin sheet of plastic that you could write on and then erase by lifting up the plastic. And the ever popular bottle of bubble not to be confused with the ever popular bottle of bubbly (read Dom Perignon or Salmon Billecart rose) and then remember Monster Bubble with the hugh ring dipped into solution and waved across to create this hugh clear amoeba.

    Loved the superball. I also remember when it came out. It was black, about 2.5 inches in diameter had a unique plastic smell and bounced really boss high. Then they came out with the mini ones and then multicolored. I was told that you couldn’t cut it open as it would unleash a terrific wave of power. Ooooh–spooky. Not!

    And then those small plastic toy enclosed pods in the gum ball machines outside of the store where sometimes the pods were even more fun than the toy and for only a dime. They still have toys in machines like at Zippy’s and now when you buy one you can recycle the pod in an adjacent bin if you don’t want it.

    So much fun for so little money.

  34. Hbh says:


    Yes the spirit or feel of the old market is gone. I agree pretty.

  35. Hbh says:


    You broke a slinky too? Lol

  36. Hbh says:


    It’s kinda sad really. What is sad is it’s not “out with the old and in with the New”. It’s “out with the old and in with a different old.” Alot of the stores on the list at the new international market place have been on the mainland for about a decade or longer already. This is why I’m so baffled about the philosophy of this kind of thing being “progress”. Again just my opinion. What makes local places special has never been about the trinkets or goods it sold but the feel or experience, unless it’s grinds.

    In the past looking at the preview of the marketplace it was easy to see that it had the feel of the Ewa wing at Ala Mo and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. I see I’m not the only one who picked that up. Look at the yelp reviews.

    Anyway I may change my mind because I am looking from afar but personally it’s sad to see the old hawaiicana being replaced with the rodeo drive meets hawaii theme park feel. Anyway guys sorry I’m very opinionated on the gentrification of our home.

    But in the positive at least they have some local stores and yes they saved the old banyan tree and artifacts from the old market.

  37. Hbh says:


    Instead of flubber, I remember slime. It came in green or purple. It had that weird smell and texture. Later they added eyeballs and worms.

  38. Sally says:

    I broke a slinky once. ha!

  39. Seawalker says:

    Hey @Hbh, the new International Market Place opened up. Checked it out. Nice, but not too good. Out with old, in with the new. Along with the old disappearing, so does the memories. The banyan tree is still there. But something’s missing without the carts around.

  40. Seawalker says:

    If lunch cost a quarter back then, juice at first recess at 10:00 in the morning cost a nickel. Nothing special. Just guava juice in a wax paper cup. Just saying. Why not now? 😀

  41. Seawalker says:

    Man, simple games like a water balloon fight was the bomb back in those days. We used to fill up our balloons in the bathroom sink. Load ’em up in a bucket. Head out to the yard. And bombs away. You end up all soaking wet. Too good, those days. Way too good…

  42. Seawalker says:

    @1oldfut August 31st, 2016 at 7:08 am #
    -Marbles! Bombuchas, ball-bearings, glassies, digging little divots in the dirt, two-hand-span…
    -Pencils for pencil fight! “Eagle-Mirado” was a brand that comes to mind. You had to find the right brand, if you didn’t, you’d have a hard time writing with really short pencils…
    Eagle Mirado was a decent pencil. But Moonlight was killa gorillas, man. You undid the eraser. Smash the metal part together. Gave it a little flex. Whap! That’s all she wrote. Next victim and onto the another challenge.

    We used to play knock-down or cover games with baseball cards. Good, good fun. And you got tired of those, it was onto pitching quarters. Hey, winning meant a double school lunch for that day.

  43. 4G says:

    Oh – and, you right, @Mark’75 – you eventually lose the Super Ball. 🙁 LOL

  44. 4G says:

    I think it was @dihudfan who mentioned kites – thanks for that. I had kind of forgotten about the significant time I spent flying a kite. Nothing spectacular and certainly nothing as ambitious as a box kite.

    As I recall, there was a traditional kite called something like Hi-Flier – was like 10¢ (in my price range! LOL). Came rolled up around the balsa sticks and you had to assemble it. A couple of spools of kite string, strips of rags tied together to form the tail and you were good to go.

    Bike it to Kam Field and fly it. I have many fond memories of that. On a good day, I remember letting out something like three spools of kite string – the kite was sooo small! Reeling it back it, though . . . . LOL

  45. 4G says:

    Duncan Imperial yo-yos were the bee’s knees in intermediate school.

  46. 4G says:

    I think I was most successful at lobbying for a spur of the moment toy from the cheap toy section with my maternal grandparents – at Mom and Pop stores out in Waialua. 😉

  47. 4G says:

    I remember when the Super Ball first came out. It was pretty amazing – how high it could bounce.

  48. 4G says:

    If I am recalling correctly, there was a “toy” called, “Flubber” – supposedly to mimic the stuff from the movie and coming out at about the same time as the movie. I’m not really sure but it seems like it was a bit like Silly Putty, but firmer and like a translucent amber.

    I was pretty young, but I recall being told I was allergic to it. I seem to have a vague recollection of like a hive reaction. Needless to say, the Flubber was taken away after only a short time. 🙁

    You know? It’s kind of scary these days – sometimes you wonder whether or not a “memory” is actually a fabrication. LOL

    Any confirmation of Flubber would be appreciated. 😉

  49. Mark'75 says:

    @Rodney: For real, no? Etch-a-Sketch. Diagonal lines looked more like staircases! LOL

  50. Mark'75 says:

    Pick Up Sticks was also fun, but at times frustrating.

  51. Mark'75 says:

    Was always fun playing with Barrel of Monkeys…trying to link them all up!

  52. Rodney says:

    I remember one time my uncle bought me a water rocket from GEMS. It was a oval shaped rocket with fins. I filled the rocket half way with water, slide it on the launcher pump, pump up the pressure, pull the trigger and let ‘er rip! As it flew up, it left a trail of water coming out from it.

  53. Rodney says:

    My dad used to take out the point on our tops and replace it with a cut nail. We used to throw that thing overhand to whack the opponents top. And if the timing wasn’t right, the top wouldn’t release off the string and end up flying around our heads. Surprised we didn’t get puka-puka head from it.

  54. Rodney says:

    Etch-a-Sketch. Could never get the hang of it. Vertical and horizontal lines, easy. Try make one slanted line and it’s all kapakahi. The best thing I could do was scrape off a little area to make a window to see what’s under there. LOL

  55. Rodney says:

    @Mark’75 – Jeanlu. Wow, that’s a blast from the past.

  56. Rodney says:

    @Shoyu Burner – I remember the balsa wood planes you mentioned with the propeller and the rubber band. Had to spin the propeller to wind the rubber band so when you let it go – the propeller would spin and fly the plane. Because we wanted to make it fly longer, we’d wind, wind, and wind the propeller. But if by accident your finger slipped off the propeller, the thing would spin and unwind. And had to start all over again!

  57. 1oldfut says:

    -Marbles! Bombuchas, ball-bearings, glassies, digging little divots in the dirt, two-hand-span…
    -Pencils for pencil fight! “Eagle-Mirado” was a brand that comes to mind. You had to find the right brand, if you didn’t, you’d have a hard time writing with really short pencils…

  58. dihudfan says:

    @old school… wuz fun to play with the tops, with a long nail as the kui (?) wuz hud learning to spin the top at first but playing long enough and getting your top split many times… you learn to become bettah… yoyos wuz fun too, around the world, loop to loop, walk the dog, rock the cradle… but sore fingah….

  59. old school says:

    Yoyos! I once entered an elementary school competition, judged by the Duncan guy, but my run ended when I did a “forward pass” and the string broke, sending the yoyo flying into the first row of the audience at the cafeteria!
    But yoyos were cool, and cheap back in the day.

  60. old school says:

    Tops! Besides spinning them on the ground, we’d replace the original point with a nail and play a game in which we’d try to spear/split/crack each other’s tops, taking turns to place your top on the ground while your buddy takes his best shot at it.

  61. Hbh says:

    I also had a few Duncan yoyos. I could barely do around the world and walk the dog.

  62. Hbh says:

    Does anyone remember making complex structures just to knock one domino over and watch it all come down.

    If I remember correctly the old ala mo center had a store that would set up dominoes like this. They also had mouse trap type toys. It was a cool place.

  63. Hbh says:

    @Shoyu burner

    I remember those male faced metal shavings picture toy.

    Does anyone remember the cheap tiny plastic figures of kikaida, ultraman, kamen rider and their enemies? They sold them in the dime stores?

  64. Mark Shelby says:

    I used to love the Rockets! The ones that were reusable and you could buy more rocket fuel packs. They flew up really high, and then came down with a parachute. You just had to re stuff the parachute for the next flight, and reload with new fuel. I used to buy them at the Hobby Shop that was in Kahala Mall.

  65. Mark Shelby says:


    “OUR” customers.

  66. Mark Shelby says:

    I think it was 1965, and I did the first Hula Hoop TV Commercial for Wigwam Stores in Hawaii at KGMB. My Dad brought it in. I was just 10 years old. HO! So embarrassing! I really feel that our Wigwam Stores had the best toy department from the 1950’s to the early 1970’s. Especially at Christmas when the shelves were overloaded! My Dad even helped do the toy buying and made many trips to the “Orient”, to get really good deals on toys for out customers.

  67. Shoyu burner says:

    Balsa wood gliders were good, but those wind up rubber band planes were even better! I also liked the male faces that would have metal shavings on top of a sealed plastic cover and it came with a magnetic wand which you could make facial hair on the faces.

  68. Mark'75 says:

    I liked those little plastic NFL football helmets in the old gumball machine. Bummer, never got a Packers one tho.

  69. dihudfan says:

    paper shot guns… I think they call them darringers… kites, used to like the box kites, wuz kind of neat that you could make something shaped like a box, fly…

  70. Mark'75 says:

    Wow @Rodney: The pegboard in your photos reminds me of Jeanlu Toy Store at Ala Moana Center and Kailua!

  71. Mark'75 says:

    @4G: The paddle was used for WHAT?! Oh, my! LOL

  72. Mark'75 says:

    Everyone knows it’s Slinky!

  73. 4G says:

    Ooh – I always hated that “Paddle Ball”.

    That rubber string always broke pretty quickly and the paddle was used for spanking – never even take out the staple . . . . 🙁 LOL

  74. Mark'75 says:

    Along with those plastic green army men, I recall bags of cowboys and Indians….not so PC then, no? LOL

  75. Mark'75 says:

    I remember Super Ball, the super bouncy rubber ball. Didn’t take long until it bounced somewhere, never to be found again!

  76. Shoyu burner says:

    Rod, can’t remember the name of toy but it was a thin straw (coffee stirrer)and a small toothpaste like squeeze container that you would squeeze out a soft plastic like substance and place it on the straw aND blow it to a balloon. Remember those X-ray glasses that didn’t work ( talk about a let down lol)

  77. mows says:

    Seamonkeys, remember in the back of the comics where they had the king and the queen with the kids and the castle in the aquarium?
    Man I used to think that it was so cool until I got one and it was just like brine shrimp. Where is the king and queen and the castle?

  78. losthawaiian says:

    When the grand kids were small, I used to go stocking stuffer shopping at the supermarket for those dollar toys. Heck, I still do that and give it to them nowadays as gag gifts.

  79. losthawaiian says:

    Remember those metal cap rockets. You placed one cap inside then threw it up in the air. When it hit the ground, it made a loud BANG!

  80. losthawaiian says:

    I was in Branson, MO. a few years ago and they have this old fashion five and dime store. Inside the store was a whole aisle dedicated to old style toys. Marbles, superballs, wheelo’s, wooden tops, Duncan yo-yo’s along with the army men parachuters and baking soda submarines. They even had those old Ben Franklin carry baskets which folded with the blue,red and yellow striped cloth material.

  81. Hbh says:

    Hot wheels

    For me small hot wheels airline airplanes like the old pan am line etc.

  82. Hbh says:

    I remember I used to get this at longs or abc right next to Woolworths in the old ala mo. It was like small comic books that had wax like sheets of paper with different characters on it. You found what character you wantted you then placed the sheet on the page you wanted the character to be. Then you used a pencil and rubbed it til the character comes of the wax page and is on the comic page. Lots of different ones back then.

    Remember slime in a can? With eyeballs, worms ect?

    I also liked the cap guns and paper.

  83. Rodney says:

    Yes, and whatever you do – don’t lose that metal clip on the nose of the plane or it won’t fly period! lol

  84. Kage says:

    Had so much fun with the balsa flyers. Dependent on the location of the wing the directions of the flyer would change.

  85. Kage says:

    I used to like the water guns. There was one shaped like a futuristic laser gun . I liked that one because it held more water.

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