The 1980s was a unique decade, and is often remembered for its unique (and sometimes questionable) fashion and music. However, there are also a variety of famous toys that made the 1980s unforgettable, such as Cabbage Patch dolls, micro-machines, the Rubik’s Cube, Teddy Ruxpin, and Lite Brite. For any child growing up in the 80s, these products—and in some cases, their memorable commercials—inspire a significant amount of nostalgia.
Cabbage Patch Dolls
Cabbage Patch dolls took the country by storm in the early 80s, and today a Cabbage Patch Kid is readily identified as one of the toys that made the 1980s unforgettable. The Cabbage Patch Kids went through various iterations throughout the course of the decade, but are most remembered for one of their earliest forms, as cloth-bodied dolls with large plastic heads. They came in the form of a variety of different characters that were part of the Cabbage Patch “universe,” some human and some animal. The Cabbage Patch craze also extended to cartoons and other merchandise as well.
Micro Machines, tiny replications of cars, boats, and planes, were as famous for their miniature novelty as they were for their commercials. Sold by the fast-talking “Micro-Machine Man,” these toys were sold individually (e.g. a miniature motorcycle or truck) or as complete sets. The toys could be unfolded to reveal even smaller accessories inside, including more vehicles and characters that were meant to make up an entire “city.” Though not as popular as Hot Wheels, these toys have nevertheless remained in-demand as collectible items.
The Rubik’s cube, a 3-D puzzle block invented by Emo Rubik, was actually designed in 1974, but is best known as a toy from the 1980s, as that is when it was licensed for sale in the U.S. The toy is constructed of many different-colored square faces that can be rotated around, and the Rubik’s puzzle is solved when each of the four main faces of the cube is uniform in color. The puzzle itself is actually based on a sequence of mathematical algorithms. To date, it is estimated that approximately 300 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold.
Teddy Ruxpin was a talking animatronic bear, whose arms, legs, and eyes moved by battery power. One of the best-selling toys from 1985-1986, Teddy Ruxpin “spoke” via an internal cassette player, and came with a variety of different tapes that would feature him reading stories and singing lullabies. Consumers could also purchase different outfits and accessories for their Teddy Ruxpin dolls, in addition to this collection of tapes.
The Lite Brite is another of the toys that made the 1980s unforgettable. This toy consisted of an electronic box with many holes, which could be affixed with a combination of different colored light pegs. Users could create their own design with the pegs or use one of the pre-made templates included with the purchase, and then plug in the toy to see their neon designs lit up by the internal bulb.
Today, some of these toys are worth quite a bit of money, particularly if they have been kept in pristine condition. However, many individuals most likely played with these toys until they fell apart, and hold onto them for more nostalgic purposes. Whatever their monetary worth, the toys that made the 1980s unforgettable have taken on a cultural value, as a result of the market sensation they inspired over twenty years ago.