Toys in the 80s were abundant, although there are only a few of those toys that are considered to be memorable and popular among kids during that era. While many of these 80s toy lines or franchises have faded into obscurity despite their popularity in the said time period, there are some that truly stood the test of time and are still available for purchase today. To know more, here is a list of the most nostalgic toys from the 80s.
The Magic 8-Ball has an appearance of an oversized eight-ball but is actually a fortune-telling toy. The way this toy works is that the user would first have to ask a question to the Magic 8 Ball while the “8” logo is facing toward the user. Then, the user would shake the toy numerous times and would turn it over to the other side of the ball to reveal the answer through the small window built into the toy.
Although the Magic 8 Ball has been around since the 1950s it was only in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the toy truly became one of the best-selling toys on the market. The company that was responsible for making the Magic 8 Ball popular was Ideal Toys, although they would later sell the rights to the toy company Tyco Toys, who would eventually be acquired by Mattel, the current producer of the Magic 8 Ball.
The Chatter Telephone is a toy that is made for toddlers that are one to three years of age and was introduced by Fisher-Price in 1961. During its first year of production, the toy went by the name “Talk Back Phone,” but this would later be changed to “Chatter Telephone” in 1961. What makes the Chatter Telephone fun to play with for kids is its pull string feature, as pulling the string or cord attached to the toy will make it produce chattering sounds while also moving its eyes up and down.
From its creation in 1961 up to the 1980s, the Chatter Telephone was one of the best-selling products for Fisher-Price. The popularity of the toy was revived in the 2010s when it appeared as a supporting character in Toy Story 3, an animated film that premiered in 2010.
The View-Master is a brand of stereoscopes that are specifically designed to be enjoyed by kids. View-Master devices use reels that contain seven stereoscopic 3D pairs that make you feel like you are viewing real-life scenery through the device. These View-Master devices were first introduced in 1939 by William Gruber, an organ maker who was able to develop a device and a set of reels that allow people to view stereo or 3D images. The View-Master brand is currently owned by Mattel.
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
The Nintendo Entertainment System, also known by its acronym NES, is arguably one of the most popular and memorable video game consoles to come out of the 1980s. In fact, the NES is considered as the savior of the video game industry when it crashed two years before the console’s release in the United States in 1985. The NES was the North American version of the Family Computer or Famicom, a console released in Japan in 1983.
While the NES was discontinued in the 1990s, those who were fans of the console can still play NES games through the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, which also allows people to play games from the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System), the Game Boy, and the Game Boy Advance.
The Power Glove is an infamous controller accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System. As its name already suggests, the Power Glove fits like a glove on one of your hands. However, this glove actually acts like an NES controller, but there are extra controls that you can use by simply moving your fingers and arms in front of the TV screen.
When the Power Glove was released in 1989, it quickly gained popularity because of its virtual reality mechanics, which was then showcased through an extensive marketing campaign launched by its manufacturer, Mattel. Unfortunately, the Power Glove did not sell well, as it wasn’t compatible with many games, and the two games that are designed for it did not sell well too. However, the Power Glove’s quirky appearance and mechanics weren’t forgotten by the 80s kids that were bombarded with ads about the accessory.
The Koosh Ball is a simple toy that has a steel-bound core and is surrounded by filaments or strands that are made of rubber. The toy was patented by a toy designer named Scott H. Stillinger in 1987 and was originally manufactured by Stillinger’s company called OddzOn Products Inc. Each Koosh Ball is said to consist of about 2,000 rubber strands, and these strands can come in different colors or shades. The current manufacturer of Koosh Balls is Hasbro, which has also added other products to the line, including baseball sets, keyrings, and paddles.
The Pogo Ball, also known as the Lolo Ball, the Springbal, or Disc-O, is a toy that has the same mechanics as a pogo stick, as it enables a person to jump higher using downward pressure on the toy, but the difference is that the Pogo Ball has a ball instead of an actual stick with springs inside it. The ball used for the Pogo Ball is made of soft and flexible rubber and is filled up with air that allows it to bounce whenever there is downward pressure applied to it. Then, the platform where the feet are placed is made of durable plastic.
Etch A Sketch
Etch A Sketch is a mechanical drawing toy that was introduced in 1960 by the Ohio Art Company, a toy manufacturing company founded in 1980 in Bryan, Ohio. In order to create artwork through Etch A Sketch, the user will have to move the two white knobs on the lower sides of the toy clockwise or counterclockwise. One knob would control the stylus inside the toy horizontally, while the other knob moves the stylus vertically. The stylus displaces the aluminum powder inside the toy, and this powder would act like the ink of the stylus. As of 2023, a Canadian toy company called Spin Master manufactures the current version of Etch a Sketch.
The Spirograph is a drawing device that produces mathematical or geometrical roulette curves on a sheet of paper. These curves would often appear as intricate circles on sheets of paper, and these circles can be made by pacing one spirograph on top of the paper and then using a pen on top of the spirograph to trace the circular pattern. The Spirograph was developed by a British engineer named Denys Fisher and was introduced in 1965. Hasbro currently makes the modern version of the Spirograph.
Skip-It is a toy that was manufactured by Tiger Electronics (known for making handheld electronic games) and was released in the 1980s. The Skip-It toy is designed to be worn by a child on his or her ankle through a small plastic hoop. Then, the child would have to spin the hoop around with its attached cord and ball also moving in a 360-degree rotation.
The goal of the child is to skip the cord and the ball using his or her other feet. So, the Skip-It toy enables a child to play the classic game on jump rope on his or her own. Although the Tiger Electronics version of Skip-It has been discontinued a long time ago, the toy is still being manufactured by numerous Chinese toy companies, and their versions are available for purchase in online stores.
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots is both a toy and a game that was designed by toy design firm Marvin Glass and Associates and was introduced by the now-defunct Marx toy company in 1964. The toy features two robot boxers named Red Rocker and Blue Bomber who are inside a boxing ring and can be controlled using levers that are on the sides of the ring. Two players are required to play the game, and each player would have to control one robot. As of 2023, the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots toy is manufactured by Mattel.
Moon shoes are a type of footwear that are usually worn by children and have built-in springs that allow the wear to feel like he or she is jumping on a trampoline. In fact, the original Moon Shoes that were released in the 1950s were deemed as “mini-trampolines for your feet.” Even though the Moon Shoes have been around since the 1950s, it peaked in popularity during the 1980s, when the protagonist of the 1985 film Back to the Future, Marty McFly, was wearing a pair during a particular scene at a fictional town square. Moon Shoes are still available for purchase today, and they are sold by a brand called Big Time.
Simon is an electronic game that was invented by two toy designers named Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison, who were working for toy design firm Marvin Glass and Associates during the 1970s. The Simon game involves memorizing a series of sounds and lights and repeating the sequence by pushing buttons. After every successful round of memorization, the Simon game speeds up and the sequences become more complicated.
The original version of the Simon Game, which was released in 1978, was produced by Milton Bradley, a popular board game manufacturer in the 70s and 80s. However, Hasbro would take over the production of the Simon game when they acquired Milton Bradley in the late 80s.
Corn Popper is a simple toy that is manufactured by Fisher-Price and was introduced in 1957. The Corn Popper is a push toy that is designed for preschoolers and can be used to assist them in walking or balancing. What makes the Corn Popper fun to use or play with is that it has colored balls inside its plastic dome near its wheels, and these colored balls bounce and create a popping sound whenever the wheels move.
The Corn Popper is considered as one of the most popular toys from Fisher-Price, as it has remained a best-selling product from its creation in the 1957s up to the 2020s. In the 1980s, the Corn Popper was very popular, and many people who were kids during the said time period have fond memories of playing with the toy.
And these are just some of the most memorable and nostalgic toys that were released or became popular in the 1980s. Fortunately, many of these nostalgic toys are still available today, so you can buy them and play with them yourself or you can simply give them as a gift to your kids or nephews so that they can also have fun with a toy that you enjoyed when you were a child.