Sure we remember our old toys from the ’80s and ’90s fondly, but they are funny little horror stories; mostly for parents. This is not a reason to dread the memories, but to look back and have a laugh at where we’ve been with these toys! Let’s do that with the four toys listed below:
1. Sock’em Boppers
It’s childhood. Your arch nemesis gives you the ol’ “one, two” in the face and a rabbit-punch to the gut with his blown-up plastic orbular “gloves”. You slump to the ground, your defeat nearly in their grasp. That’s when you hear it:
“Give ’em another *round*, kid…” says your gym coach from the depths of your imagination. That’s when you get back to your feet and, squaring up your fists within two similar orb “gloves”, you say to your nemesis: “Hey! I didn’t hear no *bell*!” And it is ON like Donkey Kong!!
Okay, an exaggerated take on playing with inflatable boxing gloves known as “Sock’em Boppers”; that is until toy company Mattel sued Big Time Toys because their Boppers name closely resembled the former company’s “Rock’em Sock’em Robots”; the product became “Socker Boppers”. Still, I remember as kids we’d get pretty darn serious making like the next heavyweight contender launching those Boppers into each other right in the head, sternum, and hopefully nowhere else that’d really hurt.
“Because it’s a toy that encouraged kids to frikkin’ BRAWL.” said Cam Fischer on The GNN Greats; he’s not wrong!
2. My Buddy
It’s Chucky. You know it’s basically Chucky. We all know (those of us who remember it) that this was Chucky for kids. My Buddy; another way of saying “Good Guys” — the name of the child-sized dolls of the Child’s Play universe. One of which fictional murderer Charles Lee Ray placed his soul into and spent decades terrorizing people! Multiple articles — from everything80spodcast.com, nightmarenostalgia.com, and a YouTube review by Jessii Vee — explain that My Buddy, released in 1985, inspired the creation of Chucky and the Good Guys dolls!
Okay, so this child’s toy doll was significantly more lite-hearted. According to everything80spodcast.com, My Buddy was meant to bring dolls into the boys demographic on the toy market and give boys something to teach them “about being caring for their friends.” An article from nightmarenostalgia.com shared My Buddy as “ranking in eighth place officially as the top-ten selling toys” for 1985. It wasn’t the nightmare that was shopping for Power Rangers toys, but more on that later.
With no battery pack, hearing a sound out of My Buddy would’ve been a cause for alarm. He was a cutesy toy meant for very young boys and you could take him outside to play, where he’d get dirtied up and likely run through the wash machine — now *there’s* a deleted scene we should’ve seen in Child’s Play (1988)!
All joking aside, My Buddy was a nice toy full of color and imagination potential for small children. Or as Geek News Now owner David Gremillion muses: “My Buddy and meeeeeeeeee!”
3. My Little Pony
Comedian Dana Carvey once made a joke in the mid ’90s about buying children’s toys. He described how they’ll ask for thus-and-such “useless piece of plastic for $9.95” to which Carvey as the adult says “You already have that one!” and the child says — almost like any of us geeky types perusing retro toys — that there’s a difference between this and three similar toys: “You can tell ’cause the index finger’s crooked slightly different!” That bit of silliness — fact of life though it is, as many parents will confirm — was no different within the world of the G1 (“Generation One”) My Little Pony toys.
You know the drill: standard cutesy toy marketed to young girls in the 1980s. You could brush a pony’s mane and tail, pretend all sorts of adventures in Ponyland, go nuts with your imagination and a spoonful of sugar to get it going. But which pony would you play with? The original six? Maybe the Sea Ponies with their seahorse form? Or if winged capers were your style, you had: Flutter Ponies, Summerwing Ponies, and the Windy Wing Ponies. Twice As Fancy Ponies were just covered in cute symbols, Glow ‘n Show Ponies were translucent with some glow-in-the-dark confetti inside…
The list of specialty Pony toys was huge and they didn’t even have much range of motion to them! Just a unique marking, style, feature, or name and there was good money spent on them all. You know, this coming from someone who had to buy all the different Luke Skywalker action figures in their different outfits from the second Power of the Force line of Star Wars toys in the mid-’90s.
The toyline began in 1982 and sold well until 1992. I can’t remember a time when I was a little boy in the early ’90s that any random little girl from my school didn’t have one of these ponies or talk about them, among other treasures marketed to their demographic.
Jenae Elix shared a good memory of her pony experience via post on The GNN Greats: “I took them everywhere with me. I lost one of my mermaid ponies on the bus/it was stolen. I told my now husband when we first started dating and he found the exact mermaid pony I lost for our first Christmas.”
4. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
Parents… You’ve seen a lot of toy crazes come and go; some quietly and manageable, and some the polar opposite. This toy franchise is the latter.
“As a mother, it was a nightmare trying to find all the Power Rangers for the kids for Christmas.” said Debi Barton on The GNN Greats; and she wasn’t kidding! I was only a lad in those early ’90s years, but I’ve heard tales of the horror behind the toys during Power Rangers mania.
Within the first two years of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (1993-1995) the show received such unexpected and huge success in the world of television and, you guessed it, toys! In an article for The New York Times, writer Glenn Collins — like Debi Barton’s account — shared how crazy it was for parents trying to find the right toys for their kids in time for Christmas.
Parents got paranoid believing that toy producer Bandai held back shipments to create scarcity and drive up demand. Meanwhile, scalpers took full advantage on what was essentially a black market for these toys charging around $50 for an otherwise $13 action figure.
But as a great Sensei once said: “Fear! Does not *exist*! In this dojo! Does it!?” And I bet parents took a similar mantra into their scrambled searches. Because fear was not an option; success was the only acceptable outcome of the mission!
It’s okay, you ’80s/’90s parents can laugh about it now. It’s over; it’s passed. Toys are still popular, though; what’s more, toyassociation.org reports that kids ages 12+ are “currently the biggest driver of growth in the toy industry” while adults aren’t exactly slouching either. Both groups like to play to destress, show off their finds on social media, or simply add to their collections. So basically the horror continues and I got nothin’ to save you with except to remind you of the smiles on your loved ones’ faces come Christmas morning!
Got any memories (good or bad) about these toys? Comment below! Check out this Geek News Now article about vintage toy store “Time Blaster Toys” based in Westland, MI! Also, subscribe to Geek News Now and give its Facebook page a like!