If you are young enough (old enough?) to have played with the popular toys from the 1980s, you undoubtedly have burned-in memories of all the hours spent crashing up Matchbox cars or coloring your sister’s Barbie faces.
And, as poignant as those old embers are when they flake into your brain, they don’t hold a candle to some of the decade’s real plastic stars.
Here, then — and with all due respect to Sea Monkeys — are five popular toys of the 1980s that will haunt your dreams forever … good or bad.
Every generation loved View-Master, right? I mean, even before it was View-Master, back when it was called a stereoscope?
Yeah, everyone loves to look at 3D images of places we’ll never go and things we’ll never see. It’s a virtual experience that even the internet hasn’t really replicated yet, at least not out here in the sticks.
And in the 80s, our View-Master trips were even more trippy than before — think Smurfberry hunting with the Smurfs and stepping into Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
Speak & Spell
Yeah, sure, Speak & Spell was a product of the 1970s, but it was squarely a toy of the 1980s.
Not only did Texas Instruments still make these babies as Big Hair exploded all over the place, but they were a favorite purchase at garage sales and yard sales the world over.
And they were educational enough that “toy” might be a hard sell in some quarters.
But Speak & Spell was all about playtime, just like Google Translate, its intellectual descendant, is for most of us today.
When I was, like, seventeen, a long lost cousins showed up at my house at Christmastime.
I hadn’t seen her maybe ten years, and I didn’t really want to see here then. That’s the way I roll.
But she came bearing gifts. Or gift.
Now, evidently, Cuz didn’t know what young men in our neck of the woods wanted for Christmas, because she brought me a Transformer that turned into a semi truck, and vice versa.
Nobody had bought me a toy in years. Years, I say.
I was a senior. I could drive. I had a girlfriend. I was going gosh darn places!
And I spent more time with that stupid toy than I did with any video game, book, or date money all yuletide long.
Didn’t know anything about Transfomers toys and still don’t. But it was a blast.
And I’d gladly drop my cellphone to play with a big T again.
Cabbage Patch Kids
The Cabbage Patch Kids craze may have been the last one that I actually bought into as a kid.
OK, if I’m being honest, I was more like an early teen, than a kid, strictly speaking.
And I didn’t latch on to the whole CB thing until the big rush and crush of scarcity had passed that first year, and after I had cut my teeth on a few packs of Garbage Pail Kids.
But that next year, yeah, Cabbage Patch was at the top of my list.
And let me tell you, nothing makes a grizzled old-man dad prouder than a pudgy little teenage son clutching a pudgy little plastic doll that sorta looks like him.
I mean, that’s what Mom told me, anyway.
Horror movies were big stuff in the 1980s, thanks to the popularity of series like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street.
There were plenty of spooky and funky one-offs, too, enough to keep scare freaks happy all decade long.
Child’s Play, of course, was the height of creepy animatronic demon heebie-jeebies.
But … well, Chucky really couldn’t compete with Teddy Ruxpin when it came to sheer, unadulterated terror for children.
I mean, here you had a bear who would talk to you, with a moving mouth, and he read. Reading was bad enough at school when you had SRA and teachers trying to tell you that Santa isn’t real, but your toys?
And you know — you KNOW — that litter f’er was sneaking around your room at night spying on you, listening to your nocturnal rumblings. Probably wielding a steak knife.
Yeah, Teddy Ruxpin was/is in the Hall of Fame of scary toys.
But he’s still pretty freaking cool, in a crap your pants sort of way.