Retro Toys (and Their 2018 Counterparts)

A flashback to the 1980s, with 21st-century updates


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We may not have had Fortnite dances or our own smartphones, but many Gen Xers would say there was no better time to be a kid than the 1980s. We dreamed that we were “Like Mike.” All of our shows had morals to every story and, more than anything, we didn’t want to grow up. We were Toys ‘R’ Us kids. Though we’re no longer able to shop at “the biggest toy store there is,” we can still find many of the era’s top hits and some newer versions of popular toys from the 1980s.

 

Nintendo Entertainment System

The original Nintendo unit jumped into our lives in 1985 and quickly became a top-selling toy during the second half of the decade. There have been quite a few system updates since then, but if you’re craving the nostalgic feel of the original, check out the newly released NES Classic Edition. The console is smaller, but the controllers are classic, as are the games included with the system, like Super Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda and Kirby’s Adventure. The set with Super Mario Bros. cost $199.99 in 1985, but you can get this classic console for $59.99 at Target. nintendo.com/nes-classic

↔2018 upgrade: Nintendo Switch, $299.99, nintendo.com.

 

Glo Worm 

What child doesn’t think, “You know what would make me sleep better? Worms!” As odd as it may sound, Glo Worm — the green, worm-shaped doll with a light-up face — was all the rage in the 1980s, inspiring a cartoon and menagerie of “Glo-Friends” you could also collect. It was introduced in 1982 by Hasbro’s Playskool division for less than $20.

↔2018 upgrade: Fisher-Price Soothe ‘N Glow Seahorse, $15.99, fisher-price.mattel.com.

 

Barbie 

With just one Google search you can go down a rabbit hole of Barbie’s past, present and future. Discover her careers, shape, weight, color, politics and even age, which have all been reinvented over the years to keep up with pop-culture trends. Although sales of Barbie products have dropped in recent years, it’s still a toy for the ages, according to media resources such as the Financial Times and CNN Money. Back in 1988, you may have purchased “Game Show Host” Barbie for $11.95. Today, get Robotics Engineer Barbie for around $14 at Target. barbie.mattel.com.

↔2018 upgrade: Robotics Engineer Barbie, $14, target.com.

 

Teddy Ruxpin  

Everyone’s favorite talking bear is making a comeback — with updated technology. In 1985, we were amazed as Teddy Ruxpin came to life and asked us, “Do you want to be my friend?” and then read to us from his signature storybook. He quickly became the best-selling toy by 1986, at a cost of around $70. You can get an updated version of Teddy Ruxpin that now comes with interactive features that sync to the Teddy Ruxpin app. wickedcooltoys.com.

↔2018 upgrade: Teddy Ruxpin, $99.99, wickedcooltoys.com.

 

Hot Wheels Race Set

There’s nothing quite like the gleeful squeal of die-cast cars zipping around and crashing into each other. Mattel’s Hot Wheels cars have been feeding the thirst for toy car collisions for over 50 years. In 1989, you could get the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Set for $39.99. 

↔2018 upgrade: Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Trackset, $47.99, hotwheels.mattel.com.

Micro Machines 

Remember, “if it doesn’t say micro machines, it’s not the real thing.” Shop for these small-scale styles of playsets and vehicles from popular TV and movie series like “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” in the Amazon Micro Machines store. The brand, originally created in the mid-1980s by Galoob, is now part of Hasbro and going strong after a few reboots over the years. Often sold as sets, Micro Machines prices varied wildly in the ’80s, and still do today. For example, you can buy a Micro Machines Star Wars Droids set on Amazon for $40, while The Amazing Spider-Man collection costs just $8. amazon.com.

 

The Real Ghostbusters Action Figures

The cartoon “Real Ghostbusters,” a spinoff of the 1984 blockbuster comedy movie, created a gold mine of toys. Kenner created the Real Ghostbusters line of toys in 1986, which offered everything from Ghostbusters action figures to the firehouse headquarters to slime and proton packs. Back then, you could purchase a Venkman/Spangler combo pack for $11.99 through the Sears Wish Book. Today, you’ll need to scour Etsy or eBay and you’ll pay anywhere from $15 to $120 per figure. etsy.com and ebay.com.

↔2018 upgrade: Get a 6-inch Abby Yates, Erin Gilbert, Jillian Holtzmann or Patty Tolan figure for $19.99, amazon.com or walmart.com.


Nightmare Inducers

If you’re concerned that Monster High dolls are a little too bizarre, here’s a reminder of some of the disturbing toys we played with during the 1980s, all of which are still available. Most of these toys are available on eBay or Amazon as collectibles.


My Buddy

This doll toy for boys created by Hasbro was viewed in a whole new light once it inspired the infamous “Chucky” doll for the 1988 movie, “Child’s Play.”  Thanks to its hard-to-shake reputation, Hasbro dropped the brand. Playskool picked it up, modifying his looks to break away from the “Chucky” stigma as much as possible. Find originals of the doll on eBay for around $50. The original song is still nice, though. ebay.com/bhp/my-buddy-doll.


Midge, the Pregnant Barbie

The Barbie Midge and Baby Happy Family doll set originally required kids to pry Midge’s new baby off her body. A later version went to a simpler, magnetic system. Find her on eBay.


Madballs

What was a hit in the 1980s is back on shelves. With names like Slobulus, Fist Face and Buzz Off, Madballs are a series of foam balls with facial characteristics to match their names. Find them at most major retailers.


Garbage Pail Kids

These trading cards produced by the Topps Company, originally released in 1988, included pictures with disturbing looking children with names like “Up Chuck” and “Adam Bomb.” The series relaunched in 2003 and has continued to make original cards ever since. Newer cards take jabs at pop culture stars and politicians. Find them at walmart.com.

 

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December 2019

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Create artwork inspired by the Christmas tree. Ages 6-10. Register online. Choose course #126771.

Cost: $31/resident, $40/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Geocaching is a treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to track down hidden "caches." We will learn how to use traditional GPS units and the Geocaching App (by Groundspeak), then hike...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Holiday Gift Making for Friends They're back! Come learn how to sew the perfect sized scrunchie - an excellent holiday gift for friends. Choose from a variety of fabrics, colors, and...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
The Studio School of Durham
1201 W Woodcroft Pkwy
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: The Studio School of Durham
Telephone: 984-377-4502
Contact Name: Danielle Sunde
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Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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The ensemble performs favorite holiday tunes as well as the soundtrack to "The Snowman" as it is shown on a large screen. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Ages 15 and older enjoy a night of dancing, refreshments, a winter wonderland photo booth and more. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Winter is a great time to explore nature at the park! Join a naturalist to learn how to identify tracks, explore conifers, and drink pine needle tea. Then observe snow and ice through hands-on...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

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Family members join teams to shoot foul shots for a chance to win a holiday ham. See website for age divisions and times. No registration necessary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Community Center
73 Hunter St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Telephone: 919-249-3402
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Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy a showing of "Home Alone." Register online. Choose course #128732.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
The Cary Theater
122 E. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Please join Admissions, Division Directors and our Head of School as they talk about Duke School’s unique program, specifically for students entering 5th-8th grade for the 2020-21 school year....

Cost: $0

Where:
Duke School
3716 Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Duke School
Telephone: 919-416-9420
Contact Name: Logan Blaylock

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See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Assist with our habitat box monitoring. Tasks will vary depending on what needs attention and may include: cleaning or repairing habitat boxes or installing new ones, monitoring our current boxes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Enjoy a family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person. $2 for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #127199.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Bring your kids to the park for a day of crafting and nature while you take advantage of a few more hours of holiday shopping.  The crafts your child creates will make great keepsakes or gifts for...

Cost: $16 per child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Ages 11-17 create old-fashioned taffy and hard candy using ingredients like caramel, marshmallow and chocolate. Register online. Choose course #127044.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. 

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. 

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Traditional dance caller Connie Carringer teaches fun dances for the whole family: squares, circles, Appalachian and more accompanied by old-time, string band music performed by local musicians. No...

Cost: $2/person or $5/family

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Website »

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No Christmas season is complete without your family experiencing The Raleigh Boychoir’s shining “Carols of Christmas.” This year we are excited to invite community members to sing...

Cost: $10 Students, $15 Seniors, $20 Adults.

Where:
Edenton Street United Methodist
228 W Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Raleigh Boychoir
Telephone: (919)881-9259
Contact Name: Erin O'Hara
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Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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Ages 5 and older move through yoga poses set to holiday music, decorate a special treat and drink hot chocolate. Registration required online. Choose course #127393. 

Cost: $19/child

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Ages 4-12 enjoy free arts and crafts. Registration not required. Children must have adult accompaniment. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Website »

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One ticket admits the entire family to decorate a special gingerbread house. Supplies provided. Workshops available at 2 p.m. Allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m. Registration required...

Cost: $40

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Sue Henson
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Harris Lake will welcome a special holiday visitor this December! Santa will take time out of his busy schedule to join us for a cup of hot cocoa and a ride on our wagon along the back roads of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Telephone: 919-676-6368
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Discover what's happening in nature as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #127675.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Take part in this annual walk to celebrate the winter solstice. Take a handmade lantern (white lanterns/lights only, handmade is requested, no fire allowed). Participants will gather at the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough
, NC  27278


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