Back by popular demand, it’s that 80’s article coming at you again. Last time we took a look at some of the more unusual retro junk which kids from the Goonies lovin’ era simply loved. We discussed the legendary Pee-wee Herman, a messy little show called Double Dare and some really bizarre collectibles. This time we’ll be discussing four more things which are sure to bring back some memories. For today’s youth we’re certain the following selection of oddities might make you thankful you were born much later.
The Rubik’s Cube
The Rubik's Cube was a notoriously difficult puzzle game invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor, Ernő Rubik. We believe the cube is named after him but we’ll have to research that even further to know for certain.
The “Magic Cube” as it was originally named debuted at toy fairs in London, Paris, Germany and New York in early 1980. Suffice to say, the addicting puzzle was an immediate hit.
The original Rubik's Cube contained six faces covered by nine stickers consisting of six solid colors (white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow). A device within the cube enabled each multi-colored face to turn independently, mixing up all the colors and driving you mad. In order to solve the puzzle you either had make each face appear as a solid color or just never mix it up to begin with. If you happen to own a Rubik’s Cube and you’re having trouble with it just watch this three year old solve the puzzle in record time…
THE COMEBACK TRAIL – Much like many novelty items this puzzle game never truly went away. Granted, its popularity isn’t what it was back in the 1980’s. However, competitions for “Speed Cubing” (solving Rubik's Cubes in the shortest times possible) have remained popular around the world ever since the first event from 1981.
Cabbage Patch Kids
We know what you may be thinking… okay they’re dolls, so what? Well you wouldn’t know it just by looking at their cold dead (stickered on) eyes and oddly misshapen heads but these cuddly little freaks were all the rage at one time. And by rage we mean parents nearly killed each other just to grab one in time for Christmas. The Cabbage Patch Kids were created by Debbie Morehead (whose last name likely made her popular in school) and Xavier Roberts whose name was branded onto the a** of each doll.
The rather distinct doll brand was undoubtedly one of the most popular toy fads of the decade. We find this somewhat interesting considering their Snooki-like features.
Aside from the fact that the dolls would likely scare the crap even out of Chucky – little girls adored them anyway. Adults with way too much time on their hands also sought after the dolls as prized collectibles. Topps obviously had a little too much love for them. They famously parodied the dolls with their Garbage Pail Kids trading cards which we talked about last time. However, claims of trademark infringement arose because Topps never bothered asking permission to make their weird homage.
Coleco, the holders of the Cabbage Patch Kids license at the time insisted that Topps “cease and desist” cranking out their gross-out cards or show them the money. The case never made it to court though because Topps wisely settled. In the end, Topps agreed to modify the Garbage Pail Kids' appearance so as to not infringe upon the Cabbage Patch Kids trademarked unique appearance.
THE COMEBACK TRAIL – Although the rights holders may have changed over the years the dolls never stopped being made. In fact in 2008 all of the U.S. Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates had a Cabbage Patch Kid made in their likeness.
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood starred the one and only Fred Rogers. The popular PBS children’s show hit its peak in the 1980’s (inspiring many a spoof) but it actually began way back as 1968. The series ran into the early 2000’s but by then folks were way too jaded to take Fred Rogers gentle and completely non-threatening demeanor seriously anymore. We suppose once the new millennium began the song “Won't You Be My Neighbor” stood in stark contrast to a reality which included George Bush bombing his way to “freedom”. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood however remains the second longest running series on PBS, after the mega popular Sesame Street.
Episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood never really had plots per say. They mostly consisted of the beloved host casually speaking directly to the viewer (kids and pot-heads) about various issues and teaching moral lessons as a jazzy soundtrack played in the background. To keep things moving, Mister Rogers would often take slow methodical tours around his neighborhood which essentially meant visits to the post office, an antique shop, a firehouse, some random wood carving store or local music shops.
The thirty minute episodes were always highlighted by an offbeat puppet segment via a small red trolley which would take viewers into the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe”.
THE COMEBACK TRAIL – Sadly Fred Rogers passed away in 2003 and his show no longer airs. We’re going to avoid any off-color jokes about the possibility of a zombie Mister Rogers returning to wreak havoc on kids with his loyal killer puppets.
Last but not least on our prestigious list is the Hasbro Pogo Ball. This popular 80’s toy basically served the same function as a pogo stick except it was considerably goofier looking. The Pogo Ball was essentially a rubber ball with a bright plastic octagonal platform firmly attached around it. You (the test subject) would stand on the cheesy neon colored platform squeezing the upper half of the ball with your feet and then proceed to jump. Many a child would bounce around on this inane contraption until they either got bored, tired or seriously injured.
The toughest thing about the Pogo Ball was balancing your weight long enough to even get to the point of being able to jump. The second toughest thing was realizing you can easily jump higher without the blasted contraption. Nevertheless, anything that got kids out of the house was something that made parents happy. For those curious enough to see this thing in action check out the really bizarre vintage commercial below…
THE COMEBACK TRAIL – Hasbro manufactured the Pogo Ball until the early 1990s. It can now be purchased as a “Lolo Ball” from other manufacturers. The classic versions can likely be found on eBay. There’s also a ton of extreme (mountain dew drinking) pogo ballers all over youtube should you decide to waste even more time on the internet than you already do.