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10 Must-Have Gifts in the 80s

By Christian Roemer

As long as Christmas has existed, there have been gifts that every kid wants. Back in the middle ages, it was probably kids wanting a new sword or bow and arrow. In the 1700s, kids couldn’t stop talking about suckling pigs, in the 1800s, muskets were all the rage. Kids like toys. There’s nothing scientific about it, and when Christmas rolls around, that’s when the wishlists really get ramped up.

The 80s were no different. These are the toys that were on every kid’s wishlist in the loudest decade. Things like:

Nintendo Entertainment System (1983)

Nintendo changed the world of video gaming forever with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES. This 8-bit console had awesome graphics, tons of games, and multiplayer functionality. Heck, I still whip out my NES from time to time.

Sony Walkman (1980)

Even though the walkman was actually released in 1979, it remained a staple for music aficionados all through the 80s. It was the premier portable music system, and any kid who wanted to pump the jams on their commute to school needed a Walkman.

Teddy Ruxpin (1985)

Maybe the definitive precursor to Tickle Me Elmo, Teddy Ruxpin was a talking teddy bear that took the USA by storm. Teddy had a built-in tape deck that allowed him to tell stories and move his mouth while talking.

Sega Genesis (1989)

What the NES did for modern gaming, the Sega Genesis started perfecting it. It had better graphics than the NES, and it introduced the world to classics like Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat. I logged so many hours on my Sega Genesis that the letters wore off of the controller!

Cabbage Patch Dolls (1982)

Did you know that Cabbage Patch Dolls were actually invented in Cleveland Georgia, and they were initially sewn by hand? That’s right, the strangely ugly yet alluring dolls are a true American classic.

Garbage Pail Kids (1985)

There’s always a yin to something’s yang. In this case, the Cabbage Patch Dolls led to the Garbage Pail Kids, an irreverent take on the innocent child dolls. Featuring favorites like Leaky Lindsay, Up Chuck, and Nat Nerd, these cards were grotesque and perfect for twisted 80s kids.

Transformers (1984)

Transformers started out as a line of toys in the early 80s that were turned into a cartoon, and eventually, a full-fledged movie series. When they first came out, they were the envy of every elementary school kid around. If you had Starscream, you were basically the coolest.

Rubik’s Cube (1980)

A little bit unbelievably, the Rubik’s Cube didn’t gain major popularity until the 1980s, and it wasn’t invented until the 1970s. This frustrating yet iconic puzzle game was the envy of kids everywhere. Nobody actually knew how to solve them, but having one in your room signified that you at least put on the air of being an intellectual.

My Little Pony (1986)

Originally released as a cartoon, this collection of toys eventually took the world by storm. Over 30 years later, people are still avid Pony fans.

Skip It (198?)

Even though Google won’t tell me the exact year that the Skip It gained popularity, I can deduce that it was sometime in the 80s. This physically active game was played solo, probably more dangerous than we knew as kids, and totally awesome.

Did I miss any popular toys that you think should be on the list? Let me know in the comments!

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