I love my toy's from the 80's. I love the music of the 80's. I love how the 80's sorta came back into fashion this decade with neon colors, jean jackets and skinny jeans (which is just an updated term for "tapered" and only looks good on humans without any hip fat), which is why I post things about 80's "stuff" on my blog. So if it seems off topic from the paranormal or strange, well...it is. But I love it and I know tons of you do too! Especially the toys! So in this blog, I've decided to highlight a few of my favorites.
Toy #1 - Teddy Ruxpin
When I sat down to write this blog, I didn't know what toy to start with. So I summoned Google and let it decide for me. I was greeted with the long lost image of my old friend, Teddy Ruxpin. Ahhh Teddy...how I miss you.
Teddy Ruxpin was one of my favorite and yet more frustrating toys. The first difficulty with the animatronic bear was the fact he required four C batteries, which was something we never had in abundance around the house. It also seemed like his extra accessories such as outfits, new cassette tapes and books were quite expensive for the time. I found somewhere saying it was around $20.00 for just one book and cassette tape. So my collection only consisted of, "All About Bears," "The Missing Princess," and "The Airship." If I remember right, "The Airship" was the story that came with him out of the box. By the time I was done playing with my Teddy Ruxpin, I had probably listened to each story well over 200 times. As for the outfits, I remember standing in the isle at the store, probably about six or seven years old, looking up at all the styles I could potentially dress my TR in. The only one I ever got was the green "Hiking Outfit."
Probably the single most depressing thing about Teddy Ruxpin was when the four C batteries started to run out of power. You knew he was about to die because his voice would drop an octave and start to drag as if he were drunk, the mouth would move in slow motion and the eyes wouldn't open all the way, making him look like he was going into some sort of coma. I would sit it out until he was barely understandable, then wait for my parents at some point to pick up four more size C batteries for Teddy.
Other than hours of listening fun with TR, there was that fascination with his moving eyes and mouth. No other toy in my possession came alive like Teddy did. Everything else I had had to be "hand posed" and controlled. When the story was starting to bore me, I would sometimes put things in his mouth like crayons and whatever odd objects I could find to see if they would stay in his mouth. I can even remember putting my finger inside his mouth to see if it would hurt. It didn't.
After writing this, I recently found my Teddy and am looking forward to finding some C batteries which are still impossible to find and bringing him back to life. Something tells me I'm going to be very disappointed, like when He-Man and She-Ra came out on DVD and after watching two episodes I couldn't fathom how I was able to watch show after show or how the voices of Skeletor and Hordak didn't get the show canceled after the first episodes. So annoying. So, very, very...annoying.
Toy #2 - Pogo Balls
It was around 1987-88 when this toy got on the "must have" list of every child at my school. Everyone had to have one. It became the coolest thing in the world to show up to second grade holding one of these Saturn shaped toys. I found this random picture on the internet showing the exact green and purple one I owned (complete with a Teddy Ruxpin under the tree as well.) Besides exhausting the hell out of you if you could keep a continuous jump going, this toy got old fast. Real fast. I remember the air in the ball draining quickly and never having the right pump on hand to fill it back up. You couldn't really "pogo ball" your way to any particular place unless you weren't human, so it was only good for jumping around in circles for a short time until you felt close to passing out from exhaustion. Not to mention you got a crazy thigh work out just from keeping your feet tightly squeezed around the ball to stay on the damn thing.
I have no idea whose photo this is, but Pogo Ball, Teddy Ruxpin, BMX bike = bad ass Christmas.
#3 Toys From Restaurants
I'd be watching afternoon cartoons on Nickelodeon when the McDonald's commercial would come on and bring to my attention what new toy was arriving in my Happy Meal box.
"We have to go to McDonald's! Barbie's are back! Barbie's arrrrre baaaack!" The possessed tone in my voice that pleaded we get to McDonald's as if the end of the world depended upon it was unnatural.
To McDonald's we would go.
I was lucky because I had parents and grandparents who thought the toys were cool and they wanted to see me get the whole set. So every week, we would go and try to score the newest toy they were releasing. I would open the Happy Meal box, reach my hand inside, bypassing the hamburger and burning hot french fries and retrieve the prize!
"Oh I hope it's one I don't have...please, please, please..."
(Damn it...I have it.)
My mom or grandma would usually go up to the counter and ask if they could trade for one I didn't have and I would sit there, as if I was waiting for news that my husband wouldn't be coming back from the war. It was that serious. More often than not, my parents would come back with something I didn't have and all was well with the world again.
These toys were great because they supplied endless hours of fun in many situations. Bathtub, kitchen floor, outside, pools and combined with other toys or just used for decoration on your bedroom shelves. Now I have no idea what the hell to do with them. Hundreds sit in a huge box in the basement. Sigh.
Wendy's never had good toys except for the time they offered the complete collection of Glowworms! Wendy and I became fast friends during the Glowworm time, but when they were over, I had no use for her again. Wendy's always had the toy's during the 80's that could be considered "miscellaneous." The cartoons no kid really got into, the toy you had no use for...a stencil....a plastic dinosaur...it just wasn't impressive.
Burger King never impressed me much either. They sort of held the #2 spot, Wendy's at #3 and of course McDonald's at #1 in the toy department. Oh and just put Burger King at the end until the early 2000's when they had awesome toys.
Back in the day, Pizza Hut was a big deal to go to. When I was little, I felt Pizza Hut was the "gourmet" pizza. What did I know right? I didn't have a taste yet for our local pizza joints or good homemade stuff and Pizza Hut had done a good job infiltrating the elementary schools with birthday parties, the Book-It reading program and awesome toys that blew Burger King or McDonald's out of the water for a short time.
Book It was a great program. I honestly can't remember at the moment if you read a book and got a star from your teacher, or if you got it from Pizza Hut, but you'd fill up one of the pins featured in the picture on the left and before you knew it, you'd be the proud owner of a coupon for a FREE PERSONAL PAN PIZZA! I don't know what it was about those, but I thought they were just the coolest thing to order. It was your OWN pizza! And it was damn delicious. Still is.
Pizza Hut Toys Worth a Mention
I had almost the entire collection of Land Before Time hand puppets and I actually played with them. You could bring them in the pool, the bathtub and I even knitted a really bad sweater for Spike when I attempted to learn knitting at age 8. But the ultimate was the Back to the Future II sunglasses that kicked my ass. In my mind, they were awesome. I didn't need a Flux Capacitor to get my futuristic glasses. I could get them at Pizza Hut. I had both pairs on the bottom row. I really wanted the top right ones because the shades flipped up and down. Awesome.
So what were your favorite restaurant toys to get as a kid growing up in the 80's to early 90's? Post in the comment section.
Something to Ponder: The toys that had plot vs. the toys that just sat there.
Let me explain this one. We all had the toys where we could build up an elaborate world of drama and fantasy. Anything could happen to these toys and they could take on any challenge that was thrown at them. Remember, this is when we all still used our "imaginations." Then, there were the toys that were awesome...we had to have them...but we struggled with how to get a good "story" out of them.
For me, playing with my Barbie's or She-Ra dolls was like writing a novel. There were enemies, arguments, complicated plot twists and unexpected pit falls in the life of these toys. Then...there were my troll dolls, My Little Ponies, Glow Worms, Strawberry Shortcake dolls and Rainbow Brite's. These were the toys I really had no idea what to do with. I loved to dress them, or stylishly prop them up somewhere in my room to look cool, but that was about it. There were a few others that could sometimes be worked into the story lines like my Moon Dreamers, Spectra Dolls or Lady Lovely Locks, but it was tricky. All three of those had to usually involve a theme that involved other universes. Lady Lovely Locks could sometimes pass for the Ren Fest obsessed sister or daughter of a Barbie doll. My Jem dolls had a completely different universe set apart from any of my other toys. They were just too damn big. What toys did you love, but find difficult to play with?