Weird Toys from North Korea, Nazi Germany, and Other Authoritarian Regimes

In Soviet Russia, toys play with you!

by Steve Schiff
Originally Published: 

If your kid’s aghast reaction to tales of the toys of your youth is something like, “What do you mean it only had 8 bits? What the hell is a bit?”, tell them they should really be glad they aren’t growing up in, say, North Korea. Because the toys there are truly ridiculous in a laughing at you, not with you sort of way, which is, of course, the worst part about being a kid in a totalitarian dictatorship. Here are weird toys from Nazi Germany, Communist Cuba, Soviet Russia, and other authoritarian regimes throughout history that will make your kid think twice before calling “oppression” when you limit their iPad time.

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Weird Toys From North Korea

Knockoff Legos

With everyone’s favorite, “Toy Assembling Blocks,” North Korean kids can build anything they can dream up. So long as their dreams are state-approved, of course. Seems like “Everything is awesome” got lost in translation.

Toy Weapons

Tanks and inflatable rockets bearing slogans like “One Against One Hundred” and “The Great And Prosperous Nation” make great propaganda tools, as does the North Korean Toys ‘R’ Us jingle: “I don’t wanna grow up because if I did, death to America.”


Because the supreme leader Kim Jong-Un once hit 36 consecutive holes in one while riding a unicycle … on the moon! Seriously, you go figure out North Korea.

Weird Toys From Soviet Russia

Pedal Cars And Horses

In Soviet Russia, pedals push you!

DIY Potato Toys

Okay, so Russian children may not have actually made toys out of potatoes, but how sweet is that potato race car? No? Potato donkey? Tater totter? Any of these doing it for you?

Weird Toys From Nazi Germany

Third Reich Action Figures

“If you’re a very good little Nazi this year, Santa will bring you the whole Hitler Youth set!”

Model Bridges

Soldiers with firing rifles and remote control tanks are fun, but what young Nazi wouldn’t want a toy bridge? (Apparently all of them.)

Weird Toys From Communist Cuba

DIY Toys

One (relative) positive of Castro’s regime was that the lack of access to basic goods like kids’ toys fostered a nation of makers. Ironically, the US is trying to do the same thing by burying kids under a mountain of toys that teach STEM. Also, glue bottle race cars are better than potato race cars.

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