As a child of the ’80s, I am way older than most of the Toy Insider review team. When I make references to ’80s pop culture in our office, I’m usually on the receiving end of a field of crickets. If I’m feeling really determined, I’ll start pulling up YouTube clips of whatever movie or TV show I’m referencing, but more typically I’ll just say “Nevermind, I’m old” and sit back down.
The soundtrack of my childhood includes Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes,” Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, Madonna in her heydey, “Take on Me” by A-ha, “We Built This City” by Starship, Huey Lewis and the News, INXS, and “Africa” by Toto. Actually, I could do an entire blog post just on ’80s music, but at least you’ve now got a playlist by which to read this post.
Before I hop into the Delorean and time travel through my all-time favorite toys from my childhood, I’d like to preface this by noting that there are a lot of toys that I had in the ’80s that give me warm, fuzzy feelings, but I don’t have the space (read: time) to write about them all here.
Here are some toys that were so cool the first time around that brilliant toymakers have decided to bring them back to market. Eighties kids everywhere, rejoice! You may now buy them for your kids, so that they can appreciate the wonder that was the 1980s.
The most beautiful, colorful doll in history! I squealed with joy when this doll (from Hallmark) arrived on my desk. Rainbow Brite had her own animated TV series (as did just about every cool toy in the ’80s), and even a theatrical feature-length film, Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer. In a nutshell, Rainbow Brite is tasked with bringing color back to the world, as it was stolen by the King of Shadows. She has friend named Twink, who is a Sprite, and she has a magnificent horse named Starlite. Also, let’s not forget the Color Kids, who are each in charge of a different color in the world.
You guys. I bet if you think really hard, you can actually smell that special Strawberry Shortcake scent. Well, she’s back, from The Bridge Direct, and when I got a whiff of her, I nearly died from happiness. Yes, The Bridge also offers the new versions of the dolls, based on the current TV series, Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty City. The new dolls and play sets are adorable, and I’d buy them for my daughter in a heartbeat. But what I want for me (and now that I have her I’ll never let her go) is this newly released version of the original doll. I keep her about 6 inches away from me on my desk so I can lean over and smell her anytime I please.
I had all the Care Bears. And the Care Bears Cousins. And the Care-A-Lot Playset that was like a heart-shaped play set with clouds and a slide thing. This was my life. Seriously, I LOVED them. When I saw the new line of Care Bears figures in Just Play’s showroom at Toy Fair in February I couldn’t walk away. “We also have Care Bears Sing-A-Long plush,” they said. I replied something like, “That’s really awesome, but I want to stare at these figures for 10 more minutes and then when you turn away I’m going to steal them.” NO, I DIDN’T steal them. But when I got five of my own figures in the mail last week I lined them up with my retro Strawberry Shortcake doll and they haven’t moved since. Anyone who comes too close to them gets the Care Bears stare.
So the Popples had their own TV show too, which I honestly don’t really remember. What I do remember is how awesome it was that this cuddly creature could be rolled up into a ball, and then you could quickly flip her inside out and hug your Popples friend. These guys are back with a series on Netflix and plush in multiple sizes from Spin Master. I’ve already flipped mine inside out at least 1,000 times and I’m not even close to being tired of it. Also the tail is amazing. Remember the pom pom tail?
I’ve already reviewed Kahootz’ Fashion Plates because the second they came into our office I was already ripping it open to see if they had kept the same fashions or updated them. THEY KEPT THEM THE SAME! That’s all you need to know. Same toy. Go buy it. Best ever, all day.
So this toy isn’t “back,” per se, because Hasbro is really smart and has never taken it off the market. They just keep making it better. I remember making those sweet treats all the time. They were the best-tasting things ever, but they were tiny. So, so tiny. And I had to share them with my brother Greg every time. Even though it was my toy, and I made them myself. He always got half the tiny cookies. I’m not bitter though.
This is a tiny bit of a stretch since it’s not a re-release of the original, but Super Mario Bros. was such a key part of my life that it bears mentioning. Nintendo has released Super Mario Maker, a new game for Wii U that lets you re-create the boards from the original Super Mario Bros. Knowing me, I’d strive to re-create them exactly as they were in the original NES game, but I’d add a flying fish here and there in just the right spots to mess with people who have a rhythm to beating each board.