Pogs are terrible… but they don’t have to be. From the many, many thousands of pogs that were cranked out in the 1990s, a few rise to the top by being the absolute worst examples of what pogs should never have become. Each one is an icon of spoiled potential, of money grabbed, and of terrible life choices. We looked at 20 of the laziest, most wasteful examples before, so here are 20 more, in no particular order.
21. GOD IS [you aren’t]
One extremely common set of pogs that popped up in the ’90s was this aggressively religious set that featured crucifixes, pro-Jesus slogans, and occasionally, some pretty scary imagery. One just straight up said “I am guilty of MURDER” because, presumably, it was about Christ dying for the sins of humanity. Either that, or it was some kind of deranged confession by the set’s creator. Another pog from this set is a severely deformed human with the word ‘Evolution?’ and then just ‘Hahahaha’ a dozen or so times, because science is a joke, according to these terrible things. This specific pog just set out to humble you; according to this, God was the original pickup artist, and his negging could keep you in your place. There’s never been a more misguided, mean set of pogs.
22. Da Hawaiian Seeds : Li Hing Mui
There’s a whole miniseries of ‘Da Hawaiian Seeds’ pogs, straight from the land that created the pog, each depicting one of the specialty foods imported by SF Kam Enterprise. There’s a lot to dissect here; li hing mui is a salty dried plum from China, and ‘Oh so ono’ means ‘this tastes good’. This is also a weirdly racist depiction of a salty dried plum as a caricature of a Chinese person. It’s not even so unusual that a pog would be racially insensitive; there are plenty that were equally unkind to Native Americans and Arab peoples, but this one is without a doubt the most racist of the bunch. The ’90s didn’t really get it yet.
23. Star Trek : Hypospray
Star Trek : The Next Generation pogs came in blind packed punch-out cards where you’d get some combination of two characters, starships, or if you were very unlucky… a medical device. Sure, they could have just printed one with Worf in a cowboy outfit, but instead, a blurry photo of a hypospray is here to ruin your day. It’s not that this pog is aesthetically displeasing, it’s just that no one should have ever decided that the future’s version of a syringe should have ever appeared on a pog, especially when there are 500 funky-headed alien species that could have been included. But no, let’s include a picture of a featureless space tool. Mistakes were made.
24. Happy Jackhammer
And speaking of boring tools, it’s easy to see just how deeply desperate pogs slowly became as pog-crafters ran out of things to pogify. Power Rangers? Check. Angry Jesus slogans? Did it. Pool balls, skulls, and the word ‘poison’? Completely covered, and then some. Types of soda? Yes. Centrum vitamins? Probably. All that was left was industrial tools with faces. To this day, it remains unclear if this was some kind of weird, Brony-like fetish thing or not, but we’re just glad it never really caught on.
25. Off-Center TKO Jailbird
Most of the TKO pogs I’ve seen were die-cut about a half inch off where they were supposed to be, but even if the full glory of this pog was on full display, you wouldn’t be getting much out of it. This holo-foil jailbird in bumblebee stripes has been sent into solitary for life, though the artists of most of these pogs also deserve at least a little imprisonment. You don’t have to go with every single idea, guys.
26. David Letterman, 10 o’ clock
Nobody knows why, but David Letterman was a recurring pog theme. Did he fall into the 7-to-15 year old demographic that pogs were marketed to? Not even close. Were other late night talk hosts the subject of pog portraits? Almost never. Why does this holofoil clock stop at 10 and run counter-clockwise? Because reality is a psychic hologram that will one day betray us all, and time-travel Letterman is the architect of our destruction. At least there’s never been a more slammable face.
27. Luann’s Period
Perhaps the only pog to ever deal with the difficult topic of puberty and menstruation, this work of art was sandwiched between 59 other light-hearted pogs featuring an array of newspaper comics characters, and holy hell, is it a punch in the face. Sure, Luann occasionally dealt with controversial topics within the span of a strip, but insinuating these into your friendly, everyday pog set was a choice that embarrassed kids nationwide. Pogs are not a place to prompt important discussions between parents and their offspring. This pog is a Very Special Episode. Bad form, pog.
28. No Hair
This absolutely terrible pog features an extinct dodo bird who, for some reason, has lost all of his feathers. Despite the fact that a white-hot comet is hurtling towards him in the dead of night, he still feels shame over his shiny, bare ass. It’s a non-sequitur devoid of humor or creativity, but someone 20 years ago thought that they were an absolute genius for coming up with this. If there’s a joke here that I’m just not understanding, please contact me immediately. This is ruining my life.
29. North Dullkota
This pog hails from a set which, unsurprisingly, depicts all 50 states. Most other states’ pogs include fun images of local landmarks or history, colorful explosions of learning. And then there’s North Dakota : a red gradient secured in a brown expanse that never did anything for anyone. Crammed full of place names, North Dakota’s nearly 71,000 square miles are nothing but seething, boiling lava where life once thrived. There’s a reason it’s the least-visited state, and this pog just might be to blame… but even despite that, tourism is one of the state’s largest industries. That’s absolutely true. Look it up. Maybe this pog depicts the hopelessness of North Dakota perfectly after all.
30. Olive Oyl’s Strange Growth
Popeye exists in a weird place in pop culture. It’s a comic strip, and the oldschool Popeye cartoons are some of the most innovative ever made. He’s been a live-action movie, and they’re still making action figures of Popeye, even though he’s had no significant pop presence in decades. Popeye is so eternal that he even got his very own set of pogs featuring this incomprehensible image of Olive Oyl, spewing a wet mess from her… trunk, I guess. It’s gross and confusing and just a little depressing.
31. That’s Phat Man (Burp)
‘Phat’ meant ‘cool’ in the ’90s, and nobody knows why. It just happened. And while it would have been more than enough to have this hideous cat just say ‘That’s phat man’ on this horrible pog… he also has a parenthetical burp. It was just too important to omit the fact that this cat was expelling gas at us. Being rude was phat, and everyone involved in this whole debacle is a jerk.
32. Ping Pong Paddle
Unless you’re some kind of rabid ping pong enthusiast, this holographic foil pog may as well be of a glass of water, or a short length of wire, or a yawn. Not even the magic of holographic foil can save this from being the last interesting example of a pog ever slapped together by disinterested, money-grabbing pogmongers.
33. Eye Love Poison Chocolate
Lovingly scrawled in MS Paint, this pictograph expresses a love for a very particular kind of chocolate; POISON chocolate. At one point in the history of pogs, the word ‘poison’ spread like a virus to other unrelated pogs, not unlike that ubiquitous 8-ball appearing in completely unexpected places. ‘Poison’ essentially became a meme that existed only in the microcosmic universe of pogs; its only context is itself and the fact that ‘poison’ pogs were incredibly common, and often terrible. So, what does this actually mean? You’re going to die in 7 days.
34. Native Poison Skull
Now, take all of that ‘poison’ stuff and make it even worse with this example of another collection of absolutely horrible moral decisions. Not only is this some really poorly chosen cultural appropriation to make synonymous with death, especially given the plight of Native Americans that goes back hundreds of years, but the holographic foil AND the word ‘poison’ just drives this home as not only one of the worst pogs ever made, but one of the worst things in the universe. It is literal poison.
35. Poison. This could hurt you.
The poison theme continues to lazily wind its way through the pog-consciousness of the ’90s, making for some of the most pointless design choices in history. Entire art courses could be taught based on pogs alone, and the choices you should never make as a designer. This poison pog is the most straightforward : a literal 3D bottle of poison, with a warning. Just in case you didn’t know the meaning or function of ‘poison’. Nowhere else in the ’90s was ‘poison’ a popular thing; even the terrible ping pong pog could possibly be associated with the popularity of Forrest Gump. ‘Poison’ is a tetherless, meaningless void.
36. Ghost Rider Vengeance Skullfire
You’d probably have high hopes for Marvel Comics’ official pogs, right? For whatever reason, Ghost Rider pogs came in ‘Skullfire’ packs, which featured regular comic art and ALSO a visually confusing overlay of a white skull… which doesn’t really work over other images of skulls, or detailed drawings, or much at all. This faded skull is pasted over many of the pogs in the set, and even some sets featuring other Marvel characters. It was a weird way to make variant pogs with no real extra value or meaning. This is a penance stare that no one deserved.
37. Wild Water Wilderness Sport Sandals
‘Wild Water Wilderness’ was a part of Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park before it was absorbed into the parks’ Ghost Town, and with pogs like this, it’s no surprise that it’s no longer an independent part of the park. Why is there a pog depicting the kind of shoes you should wear at the waterpark? Because when you get to pog #175 in a set, you have to start filling space with things like ‘shaving mug’, ‘roller coaster bolt’ and ‘lemonade stand worker’s eyeglasses’.
38. The United Nathions
This set depicts flags of many nations and entities, many of which were spelled incorrectly, but none so egregiously as this. This is an example of a pog that you’d pop out of a large sheet of pogs purchased at the dollar store. Thin, pasted-on paper front; thin, warped cardboard backing, and sprayed haphazardly with misinformation. Pogs were already crazy cheap, but this presented brand new levels of cheap nonsense.
39. Witch Mask
Continuing the dollar store pog theme, this Halloween witch mask pog is actually pretty disturbing. Human eyes glare out from a cheap rubber mask, quite possibly just stolen from a costume catalogue, but repurposed into this anonymous specter of lazy terror. There are five or six masks in this poorly-produced set; this is a living nightmare, and like so many other pogs, I totally believe that this is one of the last things you might see before your soul leaves your body.
40. Here Comes The Clowns : Bobo & Smiley
Presumably, there’s a whole line of pogs that depict this insane clown posse, and you shouldn’t trust any of them. Their eyes absorb all light, they feed on your eyes, and also other stuff about eyes. Kids don’t like clowns, they’ve never liked clowns, and if you find a kid who likes clowns, they’re probably just a demon in disguise, sent to walk the Earth and lead mankind astray. The first step towards eternal damnation? Not absolutely hating clowns. This is where it all goes wrong. Store these with your Jesus pogs so that their evil cannot escape.
Bonus : Every Cybot Kap ever
It’s impossible to choose just one Cybot Kap for a list of the worst pogs ever, because they’re all equally terrible. A mess of indecipherable shapes with a vague impression that there might be some kind of robot buried somewhere within the visual noise, it’s really just impossible to tell what the crap is going on in any of these. They’re a gross abuse of pog power, and a terrible waste of robots.
Those are more or less 40 of the worst examples that ever found their way into the pog pantheon. This is why people hate pogs. But is the wasted potential here made up for by pogs that actually don’t suck? Pogs that are actually cool coming soon.
C. David is a writer and artist living in the Hudson Valley, NY. He loves pinball, Wazmo Nariz, Rem Lezar, MODOK, pogs, Ultra Monsters, 80s horror, and is secretly very enthusiastic about everything else not listed here.