Recently, my husband and I watched a video about toys from the 80s and 90s that kids nowadays wouldn’t want to have. Toys like the talking Teddy Ruxpin, Talkboy, and Alf all had their charm back then, but will probably seem lame compared to the modern day iPhone.
I was the kind of kid who took care of my toys. And after doing some spring cleaning at my dad’s house with my sister, I found a box of stuff with some of my old toys in them. Many of which, when I introduced to my daughter, gave her quite a kick.
Here’s my list of 80s and 90s toys that I think/know kids today would still love and appreciate:
1. Push Button Pencil Case
I used to envy all my classmates who had this. My mom wouldn’t get me one, until one day it was gifted to me for my 8th birthday. It was the best thing, being able to push the buttons so that your sharpener would pop up, or for your pencils to slide upright, and other functions. I honestly think kids nowadays would still get a kick out of that.
My sister and I had a Mickey Mouse viewmaster which we still have to date. We loved it so much that people gave us slides other than that what it came with. We found it while spring cleaning one afternoon so I showed it to my daughter. She seemed really amazed by the images she saw through that little thing that she asked to keep looking at more.
I think one of the reasons my little girl likes the slinky is because of Toy Story, the talking slinky dog. I kept my old rainbow slinky which I bought at a bazaar back in 1991 and she loves it. She waves it around calling it a rainbow. We let it work its way down the stairs, and she lets me play with it the way we used to (from hand to hand) so she can see the motion of the colors.
4. Mad Libs
I don’t think Mad Libs can ever get old. We introduced the concept of asking for random names, adjectives, verbs, etc. to our pre-teen nieces and nephews one evening, then read out the story with their answers. They were all cracking up at how silly it sounded. It’s a great way to let the kids stay off their gadgets for a bit and encourage them to talk to each other and have fun.
I had a Tamagotchi turtle back in senior high school. Strangely, this was a “gadget” that was allowed on campus because teachers believed that it teaches kids to care and be responsible for something. The only rule was that you could not play with it during class. I’ve noticed that kids still like it, though the kind they have nowadays is a little more high tech. I think it still beats being plastered to your phone on social media.
6. Friendship Bracelets
My friends and I used to love making friendship bracelets. We would go to Castle or Carolina’s to buy different colored threads, make our own color combinations of bracelets, and we would trade them with each other. Modern day friendship bracelets consists of loom bands, otherwise, the concept of making them and giving them to your friends is the same. I like that it promotes fine motor skills as well as creativity in combining colors and patterns.
7. Koosh Ball
What do you do with a Koosh ball? For me, it is limitless. You can play catch, stretch the strands, fidget, pretend it’s a yoyo… I still have my old koosh ball and showed it to my daughter. She was a little grossed out with it at first but soon saw what I loved about it and got into playing with it. It’s a cool toy to take around to keep kids still in the car.
8. Polly Pocket
Some of the toys my sister and I kept were our Polly Pockets. They were so cute that even our mom loved them, she insisted that we get more of them. I recently showed what we had to my little girl and she instantly fell in love with them. They’re easy enough to play with, even with small hands, encourages them to create their own stories, and are very attractive to any girl.
9. Fortune Teller Paper
My sister taught this to our nieces and nephews one afternoon and it kept them happy all evening. I remember making these with my friends as a kid and we would make our rounds with each other telling each other’s "fortunes". I realised that what kids really like about this simple toy is that you can make it yourself, you get to decide what goes in it, and given the number of times you flip and flop it, you’ll never know what you’re going to get.
10. Multicolor Pen in one
Who doesn’t love this? For any color that you want, it’s all in one pen. I won one as a prize at a party once. My little girl got a kick out of it that she now declares it as hers. She asks me to doodle in different colors and also wants to do her own doodles. All we need is a paper and THAT pen.
There were so many other fantastic fads and toys from the 90s that I’m pretty sure our kids nowadays would love. Some of them are still around, some are no longer existent. I always enjoy reminiscing about the good ol’ days, when I was a kid. I wonder what today’s kids will look back to fondly 10 years from now?