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10 Toys From the '80s We Wish We Could Play with Again

Jul 31, 2013 at 3:27 PM Chime in now

Care Bears

Photo Credit: Courtesy of John Trainor/Flickr

Long before they became a 3-D movie with a Britney Spears song, the Smurfs were a Saturday morning cartoon with an irresistible toy line. What child of the '80s didn't have tons of little blue PVC Smurfs cluttering up their room? In honor of the Smurfs' newest incarnation, The Smurfs 2 (in theaters July 31), we look back on our favorite '80s cartoon toys -- and dream about playing with them one more time.

Jem & The Holograms

Courtesy of YouTube

Everything about these rock-band dolls was the epitome of cool. Their hair was dyed crazy colors. One of them played the keytar. They each came with their own single, on cassette. Above all, there was Jem -- ordinary blonde by day, rock star by night -- who transformed with the help of flashing red earrings. They actually flashed. Technology!

Why we want it back: Jem & The Holograms are ripe for a modern-day makeover. After all, wasn't Jem the original Hannah Montana? The new dolls could come with free MP3s and updated rock-star fashions. We're thinking The Holograms would look like G-rated Nicki Minajs, and The Misfits would dress like scary Lady Gagas.

Strawberry Shortcake

Courtesy of YouTube

The difference between toys in the '80s and toys now is that back then, toys smelled good. Or at least, they made an effort. Strawberry Shortcake and all of her fruit-scented pals were like aromatherapy you could play with.

Why we want it back: Think about it: Strawberry Shortcake might be the reason we all turned into DIY-obsessed local-produce fanatics. She lived off the strawberry patch, grew her own food, and fashioned everything she needed out of plants. She baked her own house, for crying out loud. Strawberry Shortcake was a trailblazer. Plus she had that trendy fruit name way before Gwyneth Paltrow gave birth to an Apple.

'Return of the Jedi' Ewok Village Action Playset

Courtesy of YouTube

Has anything ever crossed gender lines as effectively as the Ewok Village? Name one kid, boy or girl, who didn't want to their Star Wars figures to live in that two-story treehouse, with its secret traps and working elevator. There were hundreds of cool Star Wars toys in the '80s, but none that made a kid as popular as this one.

Why we want it back: We're not saying the Ewok Village could end the war on women, but maybe it would help promote some understanding. We all love Ewoks, right? Now how about that paid maternity leave?

Gummi Bears

Courtesy of YouTube

We have no idea how the chewy candy translated into a cartoon, but we're glad it did. Disney's Gummi Bears took place in a magical forest, where the characters lived in a hollow tree, harvested magical Gummiberries, and had Robin Hood-esque adventures. The plush toys were as cute as the theme song was catchy.

Why we want it back: Despite the popularity of the cartoon, Gummi Bears toys were only sold for one year in the 1980s. We barely knew a single kid who had one! We have disposable incomes now! Give us another chance, Disney!

Peaches & Cream Barbie

Courtesy of YouTube

The '80s were a great decade for Barbie lovers. There was Perfume Pretty Barbie with a real perfume bottle, Magic Moves Barbie who could strike her own poses (well, okay, one pose) , and Day to Night Barbie, whose pink power suit turned into an evening gown. Peaches & Cream Barbie didn't have a fancy gimmick -- she was just really pretty, and is therefore our sentimental favorite.

Why we want it back: Because all our lives, we have been looking for an accessory as dramatic and versatile as that ruffly peach stole.


Courtesy of YouTube

They may have started life as "He-Man toys for girls," but She-Ra became one of the greatest toy lines ever. All of the characters were rebellious freedom fighters, and their sparkly outfits doubled as battle gear. Their horses turned into armored unicorns, their outfits sprouted wings or sprayed water, and they often came with swords or magic wands. Also, they had really long hair.

Why we want it back: Most girls' toys were, and still are, fashion dolls. She-Ra toys were action figures who could go toe-to-toe with G.I. Joe. The toy commercial jingle said it all: "The fate of the world's in the hands of these beautiful girls." Not He-Man. These girls.

Rainbow Brite

Courtesy of YouTube

This doll came with a shiny dress and supposedly had "the power of the rainbow," which brought happiness wherever she went. In the accompanying (surprisingly dark) animated movie, Rainbow literally brought color to a black-and-white world.

Why we want it back: We're surprised no one has claimed Rainbow Brite for the gay rights movement, especially when we remembered that her chief sprite was named Twink. But really, Rainbow Brite is for everyone. Which of us couldn't use a little more color in our lives?

Muppet Babies

Courtesy of YouTube

The animated Muppet Show spin-off Muppet Babies was a Saturday morning classic. The toys were sold through McDonald's, so if you could talk your parents into getting you a Happy Meal, you could collect Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Animal, each with an interchangeable vehicle. (We use the term "vehicle" loosely; Fozzie's was a rocking horse with wheels.)

Why we want it back: The '80s were the golden age of the Happy Meal, before anybody worried about trans fats or decided that giving away toys with fries was harming children. The toys were better, too; unlike the flimsy plastic crap they later sold, the Muppet Babies could withstand hours of play. Our McDonald's nostalgia notwithstanding, Muppet Babies were also the cutest thing ever. We'd be happy to see the cartoon again, too.

Care Bears

Courtesy of YouTube

These were the toys that made it cool to play with teddy bears. The characters lived in the clouds and magically helped kids who needed more caring in their lives. The toys themselves were super-huggable, came in every color of the rainbow, and could be identified by their "tummy symbols": a heart for Love-A-Lot Bear, a moon for Bedtime Bear, a four-leaf clover for Good Luck Bear, and so on.

Why we want it back: We love how the Care Bears were tailored for different kids' needs: you could buy Bedtime Bear for the kid who couldn't sleep, Champ Bear for the girl who just won her soccer tournament, and even Grumpy Bear (tummy symbol: a thundercloud) for the ornery child in your life. Seems like it wouldn't be that hard to adapt the concept to adults. May we suggest Not Enough Caffeine Bear?

Lady Lovely Locks and the Pixietails

Courtesy of YouTube

If you were an '80s girl who loved to style your dolls' hair, you couldn't do better than Lady Lovely Locks. Each doll had a thick head of curly, knee-length hair, which could be clipped up with the help of Pixie Tails: little woodland creatures with tails made of hair.

Why we want it back: In addition to inventing hair extensions, Lady Lovely Locks was basically the platonic ideal of a princess doll. Look at that dress: it had ribbons, lace, velvet flowers, and a shiny, poufy skirt. What more could a girly-girl want out of life?

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