A to Z of 70s and 80s Toys and Games

that you can still buy today

On this page, you will rediscover some fond childhood memories of toys and games you played back in the day. Our A to Z of 70s and 80s toys that you can still buy will give you much inspiration for a retro gift idea.

Okay, so some of these toys and games may have had a a slight makeover to keep up with the times, but there are some that look like they've been in a time capsule - those Fisher Price toys look exactly the same to me!

 

Atari 2600 games console with box, controllers and games

 

Atari 2600

No, the Atari 2600 hasn't been reborn, but you can buy an updated version called the Flashback. This latest unit is based on the old Atari 2600 console and features 101 built-in games from the 1980s. Just thank yourself lucky that you no longer have to but all of those games on separate cartridges!

 

Bagpuss PLush Toy

Everything that Oliver Postgate wrote had a certain charm, and if you grew up in the 70s, then the Bagpuss animated series featuring the old cloth cat was essential viewing. This microwaveable plush toy with fragranced dried lavender would make the perfect retro gift for fans of the show - whatever their age. T
Balloon Helicopter Toys

Balloon Helicopter

This toy is a very simple idea, but one of these could provide more entertainment than the expensive toys. You just attach the blades to a blown-up balloon, give it a slight twist and let it go. You really can't go far wrong with these, and they make nice party bag fillers.

Balsa Wood Plane

 

Balsa Wood Plane /Glider Kit

These are still as cheap as chips to buy and assembling them is still dead easy, thankfully. You simply push the wings and tail fin into the slots and away you go. They now come in all sorts of designs and colours, and so make for great party bag fillers, and are still available in balsa wood.

1970s Battleship MB Games

 

Battleship

The first game by Milton Bradley came out in 1967, but the original version was a simple pencil and pad game invented before World War 1 and, apparently, played by Russian officers. An electronic version of the naval strategy game was released by MB in 1977 with a talking version in 1989.
Bigtrak 80s Toy

Bigtrak

Bigtrak was one of the must-have toys of the 1980s. This programmable, futuristic tank provided many kids many hours of fun back in the day, and is also quite educational - well, that was my excuse for wanting one, at least!

Vintage Buckaroo by MB Games

 

Buckaroo!

This was a game that had everyone on tenter hooks. The idea is to load up a moody mule with objects such as a saddle, guitar, shovel etc., without making him buck. The game was discontinued by MB Games for a short while in the noughties due to the health and safety brigade claiming it was "unsafe" - never had any problems with it in the 70s and 80s - but it is now available again with revised instructions. 

Cabbage Patch Kid Doll

Cabbage Patch Kids

Every one of these ugly but cute dolls is unique, and they were first created in 1978. The original dolls were produced between 1982 and 1989 by Coleco, and then by other toy companies after they went broke. The retro dolls made a big comeback during 2012, and have been popular again ever since.

1970s Cluedo Game by Waddingtons

 

Cluedo

This vintage murder mystery game was invented in 1944 by Anthony E. Pratt and was originally called Murder! An official launch of Cluedo by Waddingtons took place in 1947, with Parker Brothers publishing the game as Clue in the U.S.
1976 Connetc 4 Game by MB Games

 

Connect 4

The popularity of this game never seems to wane. Simple, but extremely addicitive, the idea is to try and create a row of four counters of the same colour. The game is available in many forms these days, but the basic idea remains the same. 

Classic Etch A Sketch Toy by MAttel

Etch-A-Sketch

The popularity of this "magic drawing toy" never seems to wane, and hours of fun are to be had twisting those knobs to create a masterpiece. When you're fed up with your work you just shake and erase! Hmm, I'd never have been artistic enough to create a dinosaur like the one shown, though.

Fisher Price 1694 Charrer Telephone

Fisher Price Chatter Telephone

This classic toy is still as popular as ever and will entertain your little ones just as much as it did back in the 70s and 80s. Both the classic and newer version can be bought using the link below.

Fisher Price Television

Fisher Price Television

Now, this looks exactly the same as the one I had back in the seventies, and it still plays Row, Row, Row Your Boat and London Bridge is Falling Down - wonderful! This is the official replica of the original toy.

Fisher Price Classics TV Radio

Fisher Price TV / Radio

This classic wind-up toy plays a musical melody, while various scenes appear in the window. This toy was part of many people's childhood, especially so during the 1960s and 70s, and the original version can still be bought today.

1970s Frustration Popomatic Board Game

 

Frustration

What was pretty clever about this game was the enclosed "popomatic" dice roller which meant you never lost your die. This was like a frustrating, faster version of Ludo - kind of!
Gremlins Gizmo Soft Toy

 

Gremlins Gizmo Toy

These came out long before Furby, and this is the original soft and loveable toy. This is just one example of merchandise created on the back of the Gremlins film.

Indoor Fireworks

Indoor Fireworks

Just the name on the box is likely to give today's overzealous health and safety inspectors a stonking headache, and so I was thrilled to see that these are still available to buy. 

The most memorable firework for me was snakes alive, which kept growing and growing until you were left with what looked like a turd! Others included indoor sparklers, blazing bengals, flash gordon, sizzling strobes, ice fountains, puff the magic dragon and disco inferno. Nostalgic fun!


1991 Ker-Plunk Game by MB Games

Ker-Plunk

Ah yes, the game with lots of sticks and marbles. This was first launched in 1967 by the Ideal Toy Company, and in the UK by the Milton Bradley Company (MB Games). It is now being manufactured and marketed by Hasbro. This was certainly a firm favourite in our household, especially the Christmas Day that I received one. Happy memories.
Magnetic Dolphins Sculpture

Magnet Art Sculpture

Remember these? I was pretty useless at trying to create a shape that looked half decent, but there was always one genius at school who could create a work of art! The photo features dolphins, but there is now a whole range of magnetic sculpture toys available to help bring out your artistic side.

Mecanno 3 Motorised Set 1970s

 

Meccano

Now, that Meccano 3 motorised set above looks pretty much like the one I played with back in the 1970s. The idea was first conceived by Frank Hornby in the late 19th century and the first kits were manufactured in 1908. There was a time when every boy wanted a Meccano set for Christmas and wanted to be a train driver when they were older! Of course, times have changed, but it's still available to buy today, although, as with just about everything on this page, it looks a lot more modern.
1970s Mouse Trap game by Ideal

 

Mouse Trap Game

Well, I loved playing this game, although you had to be pretty careful when setting it up or you could accidentally set it off before you even started playing! It was fantastic fun and I used to love the finale when the cage spiralled down the pole to trap the mouse!
1980s Operation Game

 

Operation

The idea of this classic game is kind of similar to Buckaroo, except you have to retrieve the objects rather than place them. After picking a card to find out which operation you will be performing, you must then carefully remove one of the internal organs from your patient without setting off the buzzer and lighting-up the patient's red nose. You earn cash each time you are successful. Very simple, but a really fun game that our family used to play back in the 70s.

Paddington Bear Plush Toy

Paddington Bear Toy

Do you Remember watching the Paddington animated series on the TV? He was very fond of marmalade sandwiches if I remember correctly. There has been a resurgence in the popularity of the character following the release of the Paddington 1 & 2 movies in 2014 and 2017, and you can buy both the new style and old style toys.
Paachute Jumper Toy

 

Parachute Jumper Toy

I remember playing with this simple sky diver toy in the school playground back in the 70s, The simplest of toys can give the greatest of pleasure, as this classic toy proves. Simply throw your little man into the air and watch him parachute to the ground. A great party bag or stocking filler. 
1980 Perfection Game by Action GT

 

Perfection

This was one of those games that got everyone in a panic, and in Perfection, the panic was caused by trying to match the shapes against the clock. When the time ran out the game board would pop-up causing the pieces to fly into the air. The game was published by Denys Fisher, MB Games and also Action GT.

Tub of Play-Doh Original

Play-Doh

Do you remember the smell of Play-Doh? I used to spend many an hour playing with this stuff, and I think I might buy some just to smell it again! Believe it or not, the product was first sold as a wallpaper cleaner in the 1930s. However, when a group of schoolkids decided to "borrow" some out of the tin and use it as modelling clay a whole new market was accidentally invented. It  was first sold as a modelling compound for educational purposes in the 1950s.
Postman Pat Royal Mail Van

Postman Pat Toy Van

This guy first appeared on our TV screens in 1981 with a 13 episode series. He is still on our screens today, and even recent series still include the Postman Pat & His Black and White Cat theme song, which was actually released as a single, reaching #44 during July 1982.

The toy van (above) is still a popular seller and includes a Postman Pat figure (who still looks just the same as when I was young) and two parcels. 
However, there are dozens of other related toys available which you can see using the link below...
Rock Em Sock Em Boxing Game

Raving Bonkers Boxing Game

I certainly had one of these robot boxing games in the 1970s, although it was called Raving Bonkers, and not Rock 'em, Sock 'em which was the American name. It was a really fun game to play with a friend, and the loser of each round would see their robot's neck pop-up!

Original 80s Rubik's Cube toy

 

Rubik's Cube

The image features the original and best Rubik's cube which is built to withstand all of that twisting. A great workout for the brain. Lots of different versions of the 80s toy are now available, but nothing can beat the original 3x3 cube.

You Can Do The Cube book - penguin

 

Rubik's Cube Book

If you still can't solve the cube after all these years, then maybe its time to get a copy of this book? This is the original book from the 80s (first published in 1981) which features schoolboy cubemaster Patrick Bossert (he's now the director of Asset Information for Network Rail) on the cover. You can now buy this book in Kindle format, or you may prefer the used paperback.

1980s Rubik's Snake - brown and cream

 

Rubik's Snake

After the cube came the snake, which wasn't so much a puzzle to solve, but a toy that could be twisted into almost limitless shapes. I remembe my snake being a yukky brown and cream, and creating a half decent structure takes some skill, but the toy is capable of sucking the hours away as you try and create a masterpiece!
Simon Electronic Game

 

Simon Electronic Game

Being an only child this was the ideal game to play on your own when you're friends weren't available. It's a fun way to give your memory skills a workout, and electronic games were still very much a novelty back in the 1970s. The flashing lights and electronic sounds were pretty cool back then, for sure.
Snakes and Ladders 1980s board game by Spears

 

Snakes & Ladders

A vintage game that has a very simple concept but lots of fun to play. Just about anyone can play this one and it was (and still is) the perfect family board game for a wet Sunday afternoon. It's purely a game of luck, but that's what makes it so accessible and all you really need to know is that you go up the ladders and down the snakes!
Sorry Board Game 1973 edition

 

Sorry! Board Game

This classic game was first produced in the UK by Waddington's in 1934. It was later published by Parker Bros., who were bought out by Hasbro, the current game producer. This is a game that has stood the test of time and is still highly rated by customers.
Orange Space Hopper

Space Hopper

The iconic orange Space Hopper was definitely part of my own 70s childhood. It's still a popular gift today, and will still provide hours of bouncy fun for young kids, and probably a few adults as well!

Space Invaders Mini Arcade Game

Space Invaders Handheld Game

I used to spend many an hour in the early eighties trying to beat my old high score on the arcade game in the local youth club. I also remember playing on various portable table-top and hand-held games. This mini tabletop/handheld Space Invaders games will take you right back to the golden age of video games.

1980s Table Top Football Game

 

Table Top Football

You were very fortunate if you owned the full-size version of this game back in the day, and it was particularly popular in British pubs. This mini version is light and portable, and would make a great gift for footie fans of all ages.
Tonka Turbo Diesel Dump Truck 1980s

 

Tonka Toys

The old Tonka toys were renowned for being able to "take a bit of a battering", so they were a popular choice with parents. I have fond memories of visiting my friend who lived opposite and playing with his giant-sized yellow dump truck back in the 1970s. Most of the toys were yellow, orange and red, although I also remember there being a green bucket loader bulldozer.

There are oodles of toys still being made by tonka and the most popular are still the tipper/dumper trucks and diggers, just like back in the day! The mighty dump truck is still made from steel.
Troll Doll with orange hair

Troll Dolls

These dolls have been around since the 1960s and became particularly popular during the 1990s. A more modern Trollz brand was launched in 2005 and there is also a similar Zelfs brand. Retro trolls now come as mini party bag or stocking fillers, keyrings and pencil toppers.

Vintage 1970s Twister Game by MB Games

 

Twister Game

This is THE game of the moment, apparently, and now comes with two new moves. You may remember getting into all sorts of predicaments while playing it two or three decades ago. It's perfect family fun that has become fashionable once again.

So, how many of these toys and games did you play with back in the day?

The Rubik's cube used to drive me crazy and my parents even bought me a book telling me how to complete it, although it was easier just to peel the stickers off and stick them back in the right order! But this toy is still a popular choice and is ideal for giving the brain a bit of a workout.

An Atari console was high on my wish list, but I was still thrilled to receive a Binatone console which had six built-in pong style games - this was just about as basic as video gaming could get! The Atari 2600 was basic, but at least you could load in different cartridge games. I'm definitely tempted by that Atari Flashback console below, although it's one of those toys that Dads will be playing with more than the kids!