It was the decade of fluffy perms, shoulder pads and Pat Butcher-style earrings, and slap-bang in the middle of it all – 1985 – Back to the Future hit the big screen for the first time, legendary basketball player Michael Jordan was named NBA’s ‘Rookie of the Year and Microsoft released its first ever version of Windows. As Shakin’ Stevens’ Christmas classic ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ dominated the airwaves, this is all we wanted for Christmas that year.
Cabbage Patch Kids
By 1985 sales of these moon-faced dolls had gone into overdrive, almost hitting the $2bn mark. They had their own breakfast cereal, chart-topping album and come December, their own line of nappies. They were weird-looking, but every girl wanted the chance to adopt their own. Hands up who used their very best handwriting to fill in the birth certificates?
Not really sure of the thinking behind this one, to be honest. After Christmas 1985 it seemed like everyone had one of these kicking around in their back garden, but no-one actually had the coordination or balance to use them as they were intended. It’s probably no coincidence the advert shows Pogo Balling kids drowning in knee pads and elbow guards.
The ‘Care Bear Stare’ might sound dodgy nowadays, but back in 1985 it was the playground chant of choice, as girls (and boys) emulated their furry friends in creating the ultimate weapon of love and joy. We might have been all about the cutesy saccharine sweetness, but two TV specials followed by a TV series and then three feature length movies meant our long-suffering parents were probably over it much sooner than we were.
The release of Back to the Future helped spark an interest in skateboarding for millions of kids around the world – whether that interest continued beyond the first tumble is another matter, mind. But that was alright, because we naively figured we’d have hoverboards when we grew up (WHERE ARE THE HOVERBOARDS?).
Hot Stuff Skipper
Ah, the 80s. The decade of questionable child-focused marketing. Much like we can’t quite believe David Bowie’s package-filled and borderline paedophilic Labyrinth got the go ahead from legal, we’re also not really sure how it was appropriate to launch a new version of Barbie’s younger sister under the label ‘Hot Stuff’. But we still wanted one.
Thanks to the Fashion Wheel we were able to take our first forays into fashion and style utilising all the inane tree-rubbing skills we’d learnt in school. The designs never came out as neatly as the adverts would have you believe, but that didn’t stop us taking matching outfits and accessories very seriously indeed.
Inspired by Cicely Mary Barker’s drawings, Flower Fairies dolls were the ethereal, non-sexualised toy doll of the year, complete with magical accessories and Velcro-on fairy wings that always fell off or sat on a wonk. They were a big hit with parents, but their lacklustre hairdos and vacant stares meant they were soon superseded by the likes of Barbie and Sindy.
Barbie Home and Office
The 80s was the decade of powersuits and feminine attaché cases, so it wasn’t a surprise that Mattel decided it was time for Barbie to get a job. But they didn’t go crazy – this playset acted as a combined office and home, so Barbie didn’t have to go too far to make Ken’s dinner at the end of the day.
Fisher Price Roller Skates
Clunky, uncomfortable and garishly coloured, these 80s staples were responsible for most people’s first wheeled adventures. Could anyone really use the stopping mechanism on the front of the skates without face-planting the pavement? This writer says no.
Long before music TV was a thing Top of the Pops reigned supreme, with kids tuning in religiously every Friday evening for their music fix. But cassette tapes were expensive, so many relied on the legendary Now to provide the most recent hits in compilation form. This year’s was a stunner, featuring the likes of Queen, UB40, Madness and Elton John, all of which were played to the warpy, tangled death.