POPULAR 70S AND 80S TOYS AND GAMES
by Mark Nobes, chief editor
The video features 50 toys from the 1980s, although not all of them were available here in the UK. However, there are plenty of memories in there and quite a few products that still need to be written about for this website!
Included below are links to pages about popular old toys and games, and also magazines for kids and teenagers such as Look-In, Number One and Shoot! - remember them?
Cyborg, Muton and Android Toys by Deny's Fisher
Mastermind Board Game
The picture above features the 1984 version of the original Waddington's Mastermind. However, the game first became available in the 70s and on the version I had, the box featured a Japanese or Chinese woman accompanied by an intelligent-looking guy with a beard. As a child, I always wondered why Magnus Magnusson didn't appear on the box, but the game really has little to do with the TV series apart from the use of your memory.
The game was designed for two players and the first player had to set-up a row of four coloured pegs behind a screen. The second player then had nine attempts to try and guess the combination using their own coloured pegs. Player one would use a smaller black or white peg to signify whether player two had guessed the colours correctly or incorrectly.
I really like this game and it is still available to buy, although it comes in more than a dozen different guises!
Grand Master Mind (1974) by Invicta Games
Jaws: The Game
The idea was to remove items such as an anchor, pieces of boats, fish bones etc. from the shark's huge mouth without making him snap! It was very simple, but full of suspense - we had fun with it, at least. Not a classic game, but decent enough.
My Little Pony
Photo credit: Aimee Ray
This is a 1983 My Little Pony called Seashell who was a sitting-down earth pony from Year 2.
Escape From Colditz Game
Paul Daniels Magic Set
The Paul Daniels Magic Show was a popular TV series throughout the 1980's, and almost every child wanted one of his toy magic sets so they could learn to become a magician, too!
Quite why a toupe-wearing, middle-aged man performing card tricks and telling lollipop stick jokes was so popular is a mystery, but he went down a storm. Okay, occasionally he would pretend to saw Debbie McGee in half, but he was no David Copperfield.
On 1st January 2012, Paul Daniels lost his left index finger & tip of his ring finger in an accident with a circular saw whilst building props for his act - now that's magic!
During the 70s and 80s, National Benzole petrol stations in the UK were the only place to get hold of a Smurf figurine, and for a while were the No.1 toy.
If I remember correctly, these were either given away in promotions or could be bought in the forecourt shop. I remember collecting about a dozen of them and distinctly remember Papa Smurf, Drummer Smurf and Brainy Smurf, but there were dozens available, as well as a smurf house and village for those kids with wealthy parents! These figures have now become collectable items - now what did I do with them?
Original 1970s Astronaut Smurf
National Benzole logo
1970s Papa Smurf figure
Original Super Sport Smurf - Fencer
The Smurf Song by Father Abraham
Created in 1979, Bigtrak was a six-wheeled tank (kind of) with a front-mounted blue photon beam headlamp, and a keypad on top. The toy could remember up to 16 commands which it then executed in sequence. I never owned a Bigtrak but envied those kids who did!
Now That's What I Call Music Albums
Okay, this isn't a toy, but they are a great childhood memory for many. I used to receive these on cassette for my birthday and at Christmas, although I had moved on to vinyl by the time we had reached number 7.
So who bought the very first cassette/LP from the series way back in 1983? It's still the best one ever and featured no fewer than 11 number ones.
A pig was used as the mascot for a short while during the 80s (as seen on the Now 3 vinyl above), but was dropped for No.6 which had a more "sophisticated" appearance - just plain boring if you ask me!
It's hard to believe that they're still going strong. What number are we up to now? 84 or something?
I don't recognise any of the tunes on the latest ones, but the charts don't really mean very much any more do they? Now back in the 80s you knew just about every tune on a Now album. Those were the days!
Who remembers glueing their fingers together trying to construct an Airfix model?
I don't think I ever completed one of these as I just wasn't patient enough, although I had a friend who had several aeroplanes that he had completed, and he even painted them - geek!
Founded in 1939, Airfix was owned by Humbrol from 1986 until Humbrol's financial collapse on 31 August 2006. As of 2007, Airfix is currently owned by Hornby.
Airfix models still seem to be very popular if the Amazon website is anything to go by, but I can't help imagining there are many anorak-wearing men with beards and sandals buying them!
Ah! The ultimate 70s toy, although many kids were still using them in the 80s, of course. As with many of the 70s and 80s toys, they're really back in fashion and still available to buy. I bought one for my friend's young boy (Sam) and he adores it!
I actually had a yellow kangaroo hopper for some reason, but I've never seen them in any toy shops since the 70s, not in the UK, at least.
Hand-Held Space Invaders Games
Cabbage Patch Dolls
Today, we have the more beautiful Pussycat Dolls, but Cabbage Patch Dolls, well, what
ugly things they were! A bit like Marmite, you either loved or
hated 'em. So what were they exactly?
They were incredibly ugly dolls that looked like they had trapped wind. They were designed for kids to play with and each one was unique, with it's own hairstyle, clothes and facial features. They even . Over 50 million were sold World-wide.
Action Man was a toy doll for boys, although no young lad was going to admit that it was a doll, of course! Many a happy hour was
spent in the 70's playing with my Action Man and all of his accessories.
He was actually launched in Britain in 1966 by Palitoy as a licensed copy of Hasbro's American "moveable fighting man" G.I. Joe. Action Man was originally produced and sold in the UK from 1966 until 1984 (Palitoy also offered sub-licenses to various toy manufacturers in various markets).
I remember having one of the first models that came with "gripping hands", "eagle eyes" and fuzzy blonde hair. The 1960's and early 70's models had plastic hair and non-moveable eyes and hands.
could also purchase many vehicles and accessories including a tank,
jeep, personnel carrier, along with various outfits. I had a diver's
outfit with mine.
I actually had one of these in the 70's, but they were still going strong in the 80's, too. The pictures came on a card disc and were rather like the negatives you used to get with your photos using a 35mm camera. The Viewmaster magnified each image and when you looked through the viewer you could see TV-sized images. You would just push the lever on the left to flick through to the next image. The only theme I remember viewing was African wildlife, but I'm pretty sure I had more than just one card disc to view!
Cor!! Comic Annual
The Cor Annual ran from 1972 to 1986. Forget all the other presents, this was what I really wanted! Remember these characters; Gus Gorilla, The Gasworks Gang, Tomboy, Tricky Dicky, Football Madd, Ivor Lott and Tony Broke. To see all of the covers click this link; linkhttp://www.tonystrading.co.uk/galleries/annuals/cor.htm
The main drawback was that it was virtually impossible to draw a circle or a curve - they always had a jagged look, although this hasn't stopped people from creating some amazing artwork. The other problem was that your annoying little brother would shake the darn thing before you had finished your masterpiece!
Visit the Etch A Sketch page to see some great artwork and further info about this classic toy.
1960s "New Improved" etch-a-sketch by Denys Fisher
1970s Etch-A-Sketch in its box