The '80s Are Back For Christmas, And We're Here For It

by Joelle Wisler
Originally Published: 

If you grew up in the ’80s, you already know that we had the best toys. The toys were so great many of them have stood the test of time and are still things that kids would love to play with today.

Of course, there have been some upgrades: Our Pound Puppies didn’t come with fancy carriers, our medical kits were quite a bit more archaic, and our viewfinders weren’t advertised as “virtual reality.” But they were still entertaining, and I was thrilled when I found them under the Christmas tree.

Here are a few of my favorites, and I plan on bringing a few of these back around for my kids this Christmas:

Alphie Robot

Do you guys remember Alphie?! I freaking loved that robot. I’m sure this guy has had a ton of upgrades since the original Alphie came out in 1978(!) because, well, technology. But I thought he was pretty fantastic way back then when I had to slide the cards in and out of his stomach to get him to talk.

Troll Dolls

Trolls have come a long way in the last couple of years thanks to the movie, but I remember carrying those things around even when I was little. It turns out the first troll doll craze happened in the early ’60s when a man named Thomas Dam carved one for his daughter, and then started making them for all of her friends. All I know is that I loved brushing their wild hair and creating entire villages for them and attaching them to my backpack with clips.

Hot Wheels

Hot Wheels were first created in 1968 and have enjoyed a steady popularity since then. I didn’t have a lot of Hot Wheels growing up, but I did have a lot of memorable afternoons at the house of a friend who was really into them. She had these huge, intricate structures built all around her basement, and it was the most fun ever.

Lite Brite

I think I’m getting my 6-year-old one of these for Christmas, and shhh, don’t tell her. I loved mine as a kid, and I am totally down to play this together.

Pound Puppies

Remember when we used to get Pound Puppies at McDonald’s? I don’t think I’ve eaten so many Chicken Nuggets in my life just to collect all of those damn things. Well, now they come with fancy carriers, and this one is a shiba inu or some shit. But still, they’re cute, and my kids love anything they can carry around and love on and make us feel guilty about not having a real dog.

Easy Bake Oven

I NEVER GOT ONE OF THESE. This is one my greatest regrets in life. And ironic, since now that I have a real oven, I don’t even want to use it.

Care Bears

Now, there are some fancy-schmancy new Care Bears out there that talk and probably program your computer for you, but I remember enjoying the Care Bears straight up. Just a plush, happy, bear.

Medical Kits

I mean, look at this thing. I’m pretty sure my kids could save my life with the tools that are in here, so this is a good buy no matter what.

Fashion Plates

My older son has gotten way into Project Runway Junior, and a couple of years ago, I bought these for him. They’ve been around forever, and they are still in regular rotation. He loves coming up with outfits for all the girls, but my only complaint is that it would be cool to have some guy fashion in there as well. Come on into 2017, Fashion Plates.

See ‘n Say

This sucker is tried and true. It might also annoy the crap out of you if your child really loves it, but our parents had to live through it, so we probably do to.


I remember this one so well. How the shapes seemed like magic, how you could layer different colors on top of each other, how you always had to see how fast you could go. Sometimes the simple stuff is the most fun.

Cabbage Patch Dolls

If you’re around my age, cough cough, you remember your first Cabbage Patch doll. My grandpa got mine out of the back of a truck, and he said that people were lined up around the block behind him. It was a thing. My mom was so nervous that she wasn’t going to be able to find one that she actually made me a doll that kinda looked like a Cabbage Patch doll, and I got both that year. Yes, she is an overachiever. And Cabbage Patch dolls are still awesome.


Well, these suckers are now called virtual reality glasses, but they sure look like the same viewfinders that I had when I was 8. I’m tempted to get some just to see how much different they are.

Tonka Trucks

You really can’t go wrong with a Tonka Truck if you have someone in your house who is around 2 feet tall. They’re sturdy, they move, you can crash them into stuff. Every toddler’s favorite thing.

My Little Pony

I’ve noticed that My Little Ponies are everywhere these days. I think there is an entire aisle in Target dedicated to them, so obviously they are still happening. These first came out in 1981 and now they have all sorts of accessories and accouterments that go with them.

Mr. Potato Head

My kids like to play with Mr. Potato Head in the bath. They are strange, I know, but this guy is a classic.

Simon Says

I LOVED THIS GAME. My parents still have the original one, and it still works! This is a toy that kids should play in a different room from the one that you are in, however.

Rubik’s Cube

A few years back, my son became slightly obsessed with watching YouTube videos on how to solve Rubik’s Cubes, and I kinda felt like he was cheating. There are seriously thousands of videos and techniques. I mean, I had to struggle with absolutely no knowledge of how any of it worked and I….well, never solved a Rubik’s Cube in my life.

Rainbow Brite

I was kind of in love with Rainbow Brite when I was little. I even dressed as her one year for Halloween. No judgment.

Tinker Toys

And lastly, Tinker Toys. You’ll kind of have to accept that the parts might get everywhere, but if your kids like to build like mine do, this is a fun way to do it.

So there you go. If you grew up in the ’80s like me, you probably recognize all of these toys, and they might bring back the nostalgia of Christmases past. They might be old and retro, but they were fun, dammit. They aren’t fancy or over-the-top, just simple toys to help our kids with their imaginations. We lived that way — so can our kids.

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