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Blast from the past… my favorite retro toys from the 1980s

When I think back on my childhood, one of the things that pop into my head are some of the AMAZING toys that I used to play with. My parents were great at picking out cool toys and I think they probably had just as much fun buying me toys as I had playing with them. I seem to have inherited that trait, as I have a hard time resisting the toy aisle when I take Zachary shopping. I had to hold myself back from a $50 talking Buzz Lightyear the other day, and I can tell you it was not easy!

I wanted to feature a few of my favorite childhood toys. I had some popular favorites, of course, but also a few unique toys as well.

One of my first favorite toys that I can remember are Playplax. They were a British toy that my mom told me she purchased years before I was even born! She saw them in a store while on a trip and thought they were so interesting that she had to have them for her someday child, so she bought them and saved them for me for many years. Playplax are polystyrene shapes that interconnect so that the child can create unlimited structures, towers, pretty much anything left up to the imagination. I loved playing with my Playplax and designing all kinds of structures. One thing I specifically remember is how each square piece felt in my hand. It was such a unique toy and I had nothing else that was like it. The pieces were smooth and locked together so I could build anything I wanted. If I close my eyes I can remember what it felt like to hold the pieces and create something. Thankfully my mom was able to find the box, so Zachary will be able to play with this beloved toy of mine one day, too.

Image from DesignAddict

Another toy that I loved growing up was the Spirograph. I had many hours of fun drawing different spiral designs. This thing really kept me occupied, and I remember playing with it very frequently! It appears that they have new versions on Amazon now (by Hasbro & other random brands), but  it’s not the same as the classic version by Kenner from 1986 (it’s amazing how you can still remember what the box from your favorite toy looked like after 20 years).  Also, the reviews of the new “Spirographs” on Amazon are pretty horrible. It’s sad that in bringing back a classic toy they have tried to “reinvent” it and of course, ruined it, which tends to happen frequently. You can still find the classic version as a collectible for about $30-$40 on the internet, though, and if I’m unable to find my original Spirograph at my parents’ house, I’d seriously consider purchasing one on online for Zachary. I really loved creating with this toy – it was so interesting and artistic. Similarly to the Playplax, I can close my eyes and remember what it felt like to draw with the Spirograph and feel the gears connecting around the pieces as I drew.

Image from Peabody Penguin’s Spirograph Collections

Finally, my last favorite was my Fisher Price Record Player. I absolutely loved this toy and remember playing with it until I was 8 or 9 years old! Not just a baby toy! I have always loved music and I used to love sitting on my bed playing with my dolls and listening to my record player. They have rereleased this (it can be found at Target & other stores along with the other classic Fisher Price rereleased toys) but it’s not the same, so I’ve heard. The classic version did not require batteries to play the records, but the new version uses a computer chip, so it requires batteries. This is unfortunate since it was not needed. You know, I love technology, but we are so quick to “over-tech” things these days. They could have just let it be. Either way, I will be getting the new version for Zachary, as I do not know where my classic toy is and want him to enjoy it as much as I did.

Image from BabyAge

Did you have any of these toys growing up? What are some of your favorite childhood toys? Do you still have them? If you don’t, do you plan on re-buying any of them so that your child can experience the same magic that you felt when you played with them when you were little?


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ColeSeptember 21, 2010 - 11:45 am

The only way Daddy will come to Babies R Us with us is if Mommy promises him he can take me and play in the toy aisle while she does the boring diaper shopping.

Mommy remembers the Spirograph! Some of her favorites were Light Brite and Spinjas!

JamesSeptember 22, 2010 - 1:10 pm

Webb & Webb rebrands classic children’s toy Playplax

Design Week Wed, 22 Sep 2010

ConniereeSeptember 26, 2010 - 2:13 am

Oh my I had one of those Fisher Price Record Players and it was fav toy until I finally got a real fisher price record player.

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