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The Best Summer Toys From Your Childhood

Ahh, summer. Think back to your childhood, before you cared about staring at big, juicy asses in tight bikini bottoms; before you cared about which stupid music festival you were going to and raving to music that sounds like a dial-up modem you pretend not to hate; before outdoor movies in the park, free concerts, or sitting in front of your air conditioner because you’re just too damn poor to do anything else. It doesn’t help that your air conditioning jacked up your electric bill 300 percent. But I digress.

The best part of your summer was loading up a bunch of water balloons and trying to ambush your other friends, who were ready for your assault with fully jacked up Super Soakers. Sometimes you’d set up a paddleball net on the beach, or you’d try to ride those awful skimboards on the shore, only to fall and twist your ankle. Still fun though. The toys were the highlight, man. Why did those days have to go away? I could use a Super Soaker some days in the office. Here’s our power ranking of the best summer toys.

10. Off-Brand Water Guns (AKA Non-Super Soakers)

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What the shit? Did your out of touch aunt and uncle with no kids pick these up at the pharmacy on the way over to your house? These things would either get jammed up the first time you filled them and stop working, or the pump would break off and there would be no way to fix them. The only fun you’d have with them is throwing them at each other or making your friends use them while you got a real water weapon. Either way, these were the worst. May they be banished from our memories forever.

Grade: 1/10

9. A Hose

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While not technically a toy, there was plenty you could do with a hose. You could fill water balloons with it, fill water guns, fill a kiddie pool, spray people with it, drink from it when you got thirsty, and push your thumb down over the nozzle so the stream sprayed out faster and hit your friend in the face. But it’s a bitch to coil and uncoil, and more often than not, your parents were using it to water the plants. Also, it’s not a toy.

Grade: 2.5/10

8. Kiddie Pools

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Homer: “Marge, it’s 3 a.m. and I worked all day.”
Marge: “It’s 9:30 p.m. and you spent your whole Saturday drinking beer in Maggie’s kiddie pool.”

Honestly, kiddie pools are late bloomers, thanks to their perfect size to hold shitloads of beer and keep them cold. They also hold fat guys who can soak in them for hours on end. They’re much cooler now than they were back in the day. As a kid, they could be pretty terrifying. This was your first experience with “deep” water, and your parents probably dropped you in them with a swim diaper, a bathing suit, water wings, and a hat for some photo ops. They probably dropped the dog in there as well for cute pictures, and Fido most likely lost his fucking mind and scratched you, and now you’re crying. Nice job, Mom and Dad. How the hell did you raise me for 18 years? Kiddie pools would rank much higher, except you stop using them from about age five or six until you’re 18 to 21.

Grade: 4/10

7. Little Tikes Car

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You never forget your first set of wheels. Old Red and Yellow got you mobile and running up and down the block, cruising as fast as your little legs could carry you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very far, because you were about three or four and got tired easily. You grew out of that thing so quickly, it’s not even funny. By the time you hit five, you looked like Shaq driving a VW Beetle, so your little plastic buggy ended up chilling in the backyard for years to come–a fitting tribute for a friend that took you down life’s roughest roads.

Grade: 5/10

6. Smashing A Fire Hydrant

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Seems like a cliché, but if you grew up in a city in the summer, chances are, some older kids beat the shit out of a hydrant and you reaped the benefits. Fuck public works and government property! You wanted to cool down, dammit. So someone took a wrench or a hammer to it and let that shit fly, and it was fantastic. It was like dancing in the Trevi Fountain in Rome, but much edgier. It’s what dreams are made of, Lizzie McGuire.

Grade: 6.5/10

5. Pool Noodles

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Noodles are the fucking bomb. Maybe even thebomb.com. You can whack your friends with them, shoot water through them, ride them in the pool and pretend they’re a seahorse, or put one between your legs and pretend it’s your wang, if you’re immature enough to do such a thing.

Of course, this is all predicated on whether or not you have a pool. Otherwise, you’re just giving your friends welts from whacking them with that rubber demon, which isn’t that fun.

Grade: With Pool, 7/10; Without Pool 2/10

4. Power Wheels

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Damn it feels good to be a gangsta. Freedom of mobility, there you are. This was obviously pre-bike but post-Little Tikes Car. All you had to do was put the pedal to the metal (plastic) and you’d be well on your way down the block at a whopping 2 mph, in forward AND reverse. And that horn? They could hear you coming from a house and a half away! You just cruised by all the ladies, didn’t you? Freedom. It’s a TFM.

Grade: 8.5/10

3. Water Balloons

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Nothing better than whipping latex filled with water at your friend’s stupid head, right? This was the deadliest weapon you had. You’d fill up a ton of balloons with the hose–of course you’d never have enough, because you always burned through a few trying to make sure they’d fit on the nozzle (that’s what she said). Then a few balloons might pop, and you’d learn the hard lesson that, “Holy crap, water is heavy!” After that, you’d lug these down the street for a confrontation at the playground with those punk bastard third graders. You thought, “They think they’re so cool and tough, but just wait until they see–HOLY SHIT, THEY’VE GOT SUPER SOAKERS! RUNNNNN!!! AMBUSH!!!!!”

Grade: 9.2/10

2. Slip ‘N Slide

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Probably the most successful summer toy to transition to adulthood, the Slip ‘N Slide was a damn deathtrap. How did our parents let us do this? Seriously, we were inches away from slipping and breaking our ankles, or if the thing wasn’t wet enough, the friction alone would burn our nipples off. However, it was the most fun you could have with a strip of plastic and proper lubrication for years to come, my friends.

Grade: 9.5/10

1. Super Soaker CPS-2000 Series

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The mack daddy of Super Soakers. If you wanted to put the fear of God into your enemies’ hearts and make them shit their swim trunks, this was the implement of destruction with which you’d do it. CPS stands for “Constant Pressure System,” a system that seemed to only apply to water guns. The CPS-2000 ushered in the “third wave of the water wars,” which came after the Super Soaker 50 in ’91 and the SS 300 in ’93. This was the one that blew ’em all out of the water. It sported a whopping 25 times water output–which, for the ill-informed–means 1.2 ounces per second.

Thanks to the CPS 200, water gun technology exploded, including the advents of insta-fill technology, super chargers, power packs, and eventually, the Monster and Monster XL lines. The whole game changed, thanks to the CPS-2000.

If the above picture doesn’t make you want to go outside RIGHT NOW and have a crazy water fight, you have no soul.

Grade: 10/10

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