This week Mirror80 reflects on the captivating power of 1980s toys. They inspired piggy banks full of change (a.k.a. purchasing power) when we were young. Now that we’re older, they’re inspiring many a visit to Etsy and eBay, where we’re buying them back, in some cases for more money! Today we begin by taking a look at just how these relics of the past were so, well… rad. And I’m not just talking about the nostalgia factor–people who weren’t kids in the ’80s seek out these unforgettable items. We ask why:
Because they look cool…
Is there any other reason for a seven-year-old to spend money on a puzzle that’s impossible to assemble? Sure, there were the whiz kids who cracked the Rubik’s Cube code in the 1980s, but for the most part, we tortured ourselves by attempting to create geometric shapes from smaller rotating geometric shapes, even as the colorful stickers fell off in the process. The labor, the frustration… none of it mattered, because these plastic wonders were awesome. Yes, they looked cool.
And they still do! Take the Rubik’s Snake Puzzle (above, left) from Etsy shop Olive & Frances, which offers a wide range of vintage items as colorful as they are striking. Can’t you see this puzzle stylishly displayed on an end table? Next we have a pyramid puzzle toy (above, middle) available through Etsy shop Sweet Love Vintage. The fact that the puzzle blends seamlessly with the shop’s assortment of whimsical treasures from a variety of decades only plays up its versatility–this item can look ultra ’80s or schoolhouse quirky.
Finally, we have the toy whose repetitive, robotic sound is still magic to our ears. It’s Simon by Milton Bradley! Copying its tune by pressing the large, colorful buttons was only half the fun. Its flashing lights and “space-age Frisbee” look were just as appealing. Simon can once again be yours through Wonderland Toys, whose beautifully photographed vintage items bring out the toy shop enthusiast in all of us!
Because they starred in their own TV shows…
Ah, the confusion of watching a cartoon as a child of the ’80s! Not only were the cartoons special collaborations with toy companies, but the main characters (which could be purchased in plastic form at the local toy shop) also starred in the commercials that accompanied the program. In essence, young kids couldn’t tell the difference between cartoon and commercial, making each 30 minute time slot one long advertisement. What a blissfully delightful mixed message!
And what little girl didn’t love the My Little Ponies by Hasbro? Just when you thought they’d outdone themselves, a new collection would be released, this time featuring prettier, shinier ponies in colors more vivid than ever. If you got tired of the toys, you could always watch the animated series, which pitted the ponies against an assortment of magical beings, such as witches and trolls.
Twinlker (above) is available through Etsy shop Lost Lake Vintage, which offers a wide selection of My Little Ponies (displayed against the amazing background you see above)! Also be sure to check out the shop’s assortment interesting vintage items from multiple decades.
Because they had strange, elaborate back stories…
They sprout from cabbages that have been pollinated by bunnybees. If they don’t find loving adoptive homes, they will be turned into slaves by the evil Lavender McDade. They are Cabbage Patch Kids, and their bizarre background story, along with their unbelievable cuteness, helped contribute to the infamous hysteria and riots during the Christmas season of 1983 as parents competed to buy the dolls for their children. These vinyl and fabric collectibles, complete with creator Xavier Roberts’ signature on their bums, were made by Coleco until 1988, then Hasbro, and later Mattel.
I loved my Cabbage Patch Dolls and always will. Which is why I was horrified when I found that a roach had infested and left its mark on the storage box that held them. I plan on getting them cleaned, but in the meantime, it’s nice to know I can still find old-school Cabbage Patch Kids in great shape through vendors such as Etsy shop Manatee’s Toy Box, which offers the preemie pictured above, as well as a wonderful selection of 1980s toys (from figurines to plush) for new and experienced collectors.
A special thank you to Etsy shops Olive & Frances, Sweet Love Vintage, Wonderland Toys, Lost Lake Vintage, and Manatee’s Toy Box for making today’s blog post possible. Join us tomorrow as we showcase an interior design vignette inspired by 1980s toys!