17 Vintage Toys from the ’70s and ’80s We’d Still Play With Now
Pass these oldies-but-goodies down to your kids
Sure, a lot of toys these days rule. And there are iPads and iPhones, mini-computers and portable DVD players to entertain your kids. But we still think that the golden age of toys spanned the glorious decades of the ’70s and ’80s.
Back then, toys were toys. Sometimes, they weren’t obviously fun; you had to work at making them enjoyable. They weren’t either in pink sparkles or black metallics, as is often tragically the case these days. They hugged the primary colours to their chests and used up batteries at an alarming rate. The plastic was so sturdy you could throw it from the CN Tower and it wouldn’t break — or at least that’s what it felt like.
These were toys to be reckoned with.
We asked our Bunch readers to weigh in on their favourite toys, and added a few of our own to the mix to create this amazing round-up of primo toy nostalgia. The best part? Most of these wicked playthings can still be purchased on Ebay or Etsy, so you can pass them on to your own children.
(Unless you still have them stashed away somewhere already. Which is totally understandable. )
Fisher Price Record Player
Inspiring a whole generation of DJs and selectors, the Fisher Price Record Player let any kid turn up the tunes with a mere crank of the dial. The magic of those brightly hued, bumpy records still makes us ridiculously happy.
Playskool Sit ‘N Spin
Who knew that such a simple premise could be so much fun? Sit, and spin — this toy is so aptly named it blows our minds. We can still recall the latent dizziness after spending just a little too much time sitting and spinning. It was like having your very own personal merry-go-round in your own home. How awesome is that?
Any line of toys that features a character named “Potato Chip” is all right by us. We also don’t know why having a stuffed animal that could roll itself into a ball via a weird marsupial-esque pouch was so addicting, but it really, really was.
The Transformer animated show was great, but the real genius behind these robots in disguise were in their toy counterparts. Robots that actually turned into their vehicular disguises? Insanely amazing.
Twist it, turn it, pass it… This addictive, interactive simon says game was a such a huge hit with us, we’re glad to see the Bop It is continuing its reign on to the 21st century. (By which we mean the Bop It Extreme, and not the Bratz Bop It, which is kind of lame.)
Vintage Fisher Price Little People Camper
The Little People live on, but that can’t be said for this wicked family camper. It comes with a boat! And an ATV/Motorcycle! We just know that any camp-loving kid would still love this today.
Why don’t they make these anymore? These springy horses were so much fun. They were just the right amount of unpredictable and a little bit scary, kind of what a real horse would be like. Bouncy horses were so much better than their rocking counterparts, and then oddly, they just kind of disappeared. Maybe they were a little bit dangerous, but a kid’s gotta live a little, right?
Game Boy, pshaw. Merlin was the original hand-held gaming device. And check out the roster of amazing games: Tic Tac Toe? Check. Blackjack? Check. The coolest part? You could play and record musical notes, thus making Merlin one of the very earliest sequencers.
They don’t fall down. Ever. It’s just the nature of being a Weeble. You can try to hold them down (and we did, oh we did), but they always pop back up. Beyond being adorable, we really think that Weebles influenced a generation to be more perseverant — and maybe that Chumbawumba song too.
Kids today have portable DVD players and iPads, but back in the day, staring and some back-lit film of Fred Flinstone was just as enchanting. And that satisfying click of changing slides? Apple has yet to rival it.
Bringing all the magic of animatronics home, Mr. Ruxpin was pretty much the height of ’80s toy technology.You put a cassette tape in his back that made it seem like he was talking to you. That was practically one step short of taking a trip to the moon. And his eyes and mouth moved. Cray.
These Saturn-y looking balls pwoned the toy market of 1985. If they made these in bigger sizes, they could probably sell as some sort of ersatz workout fad today. (We’d buy it.)
Fisher Price Castle
Another Fisher Price gem. This castle was totally not prissy in any way, and featured ultra-cool knights and horses to ride through it. We still consider it to be the sine qua non of kids’ castles.
Simon was definitely cutting edge technology for its time. Not only did this simple memory game light up, but it also made sound. And used batteries that didn’t come with it when you purchased it. Somewhat tragically, this iPhone and iPad app has replaced this chunky gameset for the modern age, but we still favour the massive plastic-puck verion.
These little guys had ultra-weird pelvises, but were pretty much a must for any kid that loved the show. Knowing may be half the battle, but the other half is collecting all the cool G.I. Joe figurines.
File under “really simple toys we wish we had invented and made a fortune off of, even though we were just kid and probably couldn’t find our way around a patent license application”. (OK, so that file doesn’t really exist. Yet.) Kids practically skimmed layers off their parent’s driveway with this thing. The ’90s version was even better because it came with a counter, which added a whole new level of competitiveness to the game.
My Buddy/ Kid Sister
According to Wikipedia, the My Buddy doll was developed to foster feelings of friendship and caring in little boys, which is a pretty sweet idea. Kid Sister was A-OK too.