Guest Post By: Nancy at Graphic Novelty²
The 80’s… a time of great nostalgia for some of us, and great envy for others, as clearly the 80’s was the best time to be a child. Rob has shared posts in which he shares toys he still pines for, and after the Green Onion shared his top ten list, I noticed they had something in common- they were incredibly boy-centric. What about all the amazing toys that girls wanted? I am here to correct that gap. This list covers what a rad (and slightly dorky) 80’s girl coveted.
Spirographs was a geometric drawing set that consisted of several plastic gears and interlocking shapes that had edges that would connect and move it along, as to create geometric shapes on the underlying paper. As the gears rotated, unique and colorful shapes would take shape as you used several different colored pens to move the shapes within each other.
2. Fashion Plates
Similar in theme to the Spirographes, this set came with plastic pieces that you could mix and match to create fashionable ensembles. You would lift the lid, slide the pieces in and place paper over them. Then you would take a special crayon to rub over it, so the pictures would emerge. Then you would use colored pencils to refine the look. Much care was added to create precise designs that were the envy of your friends.
3. Star Wars Figurines
Only for boys? I beg to differ. I had Leia, Luke, Han, Chewbacca, Darth Vader and Yoda plus a few others. While I might not have had many figurines, and no extra ships or action sets, I more than made up for it in my imagination. Always partial to Luke, a second Leia of mine was renamed Princess Nancy, and there often was less battles and more romantic adventures for the two of them.
4. Cabbage Patch Dolls
While I never owned one, my younger sister was desperate for one. My Mom was able to track down one for her at the height of their popularity. At the time each doll was unique, with its own name and birth certificate. I personally thought the squished faces were ugly, but obviously thousands of other youth disagreed with me.
5. The Heart Family
For those girls like myself who enjoyed playing with Barbies, but thought the Malibu blonde was vapid, the Heart Family offered a sensible Barbie alternative. Packaged together the brunette mother, handsome father and adorable twin toddlers were more appealing to those of us that were more practical. Who needs a Corvette, when a Volkswagen Cabriolet was available?
6. Easy Bake Oven
A working toy oven that bakes cakes- how I coveted this. My best friend had one, but we ran through the cake mixes that came with it, and her parents weren’t too keen on buying her endless extra cake mixes so we could sit around and eat all day.
7. Rainbow Bright
This brightly attired doll was a tie in to the animated cartoon that was a must see Saturday mornings. Nowadays kids can watch practically any cartoon at any time of the day, but back in the day, we had to wait until Saturday morning to get our fix. Rainbow Bright and her friends Twink and Starlite helped make the world a brighter place by replacing dark with color. These soft plush toys were a big hit with the younger set.
8. My Little Ponies
They were colorful and cute! Plus you could comb the magical pony’s manes and braid them. Having them all lined up on your windowsill was a way of showing off all the ones you had. Curses to my friends who showed off their larger collections!
9. Care Bears
Stuffed animals bears, each with a different color and picture on its belly. This too matched with a TV show, with different bears representing different feelings or personalities. They had magical powers and the different symbols on their bellies could help solve problems. Depending on your mood, your bear just might be the perfect pal to cheer you up.
10. Sunfire Books
Ok, this is not a toy, but this series of books was better than toys to me in my adolescence. This set of 32 books was historical fiction at its finest. The main character was always a sixteen year old young woman at a pivotal time in America’s history that had to pick between two men who loved her. OMG, who would she pick??? I read every book in this collection from the library over and over again. Knowing this, is it a surprise to find out I met my future husband when I was 16?
While I was lucky enough to own a few of these above items, these toys and books are very symbolic of an 80’s childhood. But another nostalgic fact of my childhood, was that my toys were secondary to my outdoor adventures with friends. My peers and I are among the last generation of kids that spent their days outside with no parental oversight. We biked, ran around, built tree forts and were in and out of friend’s houses all day. Times have changed-now that we are parents, can you imagine not knowing where your kids are all day? So, in addition to my toys, perhaps that carefree time period is what I am truly nostalgic for.
[Rob’s Note: Nancy (from Graphic Novelty² ) has been a great supporter and friendly commenter to My Side of the Laundry Room from almost the beginning. One issue she always had was my very male-centric toy lists from my childhood (let me point out I did do this very girl-centric list a while ago, lol), so when she said she wanted to do a list of some of her favorite toys from her childhood I felt truly honored. Nancy and her blogging partner in crime Kathleen write some amazingly awesome reviews of graphic novels, comic books, and general geek lit. Please head over to their site and check it out. Thank you Nancy for sharing some of your childhood memories with us!]