1980s christmas wishlist

Flea’s been under the weather a bit this week, and took a day off school.

Of course, like a million distracted awesome working parents before me, this meant I parked her in front of the TV for the day, while I got on with earning a crust. I took the odd break where I could of course, to deliver hot drinks and Calpol, and slices of toast.

It was during one of these breaks that I sat through one commercial break on Nickelodeon. Where we saw some of the “hottest” toys of 2014. Seriously??

One of the toys was a Frozen doll that you can tip forward on one leg so it looks like it’s skating. Sorry. Somebody here has to be having a laugh. What’s wrong with moving the arms and legs on a regular Frozen doll? Why do I require a special doll for the purposes of balancing on one leg?


Then there’s Orbeez. It’s a bowl, filled with marbles, and you put your feet in it, and pretend you’re at a spa. It vibrates. And contains 2,200 marbles.

Hmm. Let’s just think about that, shall we?



A vibrating bowl, filled with over 2,000 marbles? I don’t know about you, but I certainly can’t imagine any possible downsides to that idea. Nope. Well, you know, apart from spending the next TWENTY SODDING YEARS picking up or slipping over wretched marbles.

And don’t even get me started on the Nerf Rebelle, a toy that exists purely because girls can’t be expected to have fun with a toy unless you remake it in pink and lilac and call it a “heartbreaker“.

Maybe I’ve got rose-tinted glasses but when I was nine years old, Christmas toys were actually fun things you could play with.

And since I have been an avid diary keeper since the age of seven, I can flip back to check on exactly what I wanted for Christmas in the mid 1980s… how many of these were on your wish list?

Actually, don’t tell me. Because if you actually got a Mr Frosty slushy drink maker, I might actually die from jealousy.

1. Skateboard


Come on. Who didn’t want to be Marty McFly after watching Back to the Future? I had a red gilet and blue jeans and ALL I needed to complete the fantasy was my own skateboard. Which I got (thanks, Mum) and proceeded to ride until it fell apart two years later.

2. Star Wars AT-AT


Together with my brother Ross, I was a HUGE collector of Star Wars toys. One year, we figured if we both asked for the AT-AT, one of us was bound to score big with Santa, and the other one would probably get the Milennium Falcon. Strategic wish listing – the single best thing about being from a big family. It worked, though. And I still remember how HUGE and noisy the AT-AT was. You could bend the legs at the knees to make it walk, and there was a space inside its belly to store your soldiers, and the little antennas on its head flashed red. Perfection.

3. Casio keyboard


My brother got an AT-AT. I got a keyboard. With 20 pre-defined “rhythms” from salsa to rhumba, all of which sounded equally duff. One of us could now put our toy on eBay and make a fortune. The other one of us is just a bit embarrassed at how many Howard Jones songs they bopped along to in their bedroom during their early years.

4. Madballs


Because what’s more fun than a ball that doubles as a gross head that you can throw at people? Unless it’s a pot of slime that farts when you put your finger in it, or a sticky octopus you throw at walls. But I already had both of THOSE gems.

5. Playmobil Playground


Back in the mid-80s, Playmobil had only just started to make kids in their sets, and I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. We had a lot of Playmobil but before then, it was all about grown-ups. I loved Playmobil kids. I spent many a happy hour making my them go on adventures over the sofa and through the bath. Then when I got a bit older I used to make them snog each other. True story.

6. Mr Frosty


It didn’t matter how many times an adult  told me that this was cheap crap that wouldn’t last past Boxing Day, I wanted a Mr Frosty drink maker more than I wanted air to breathe, when I was nine years old. And I never got one. Not that I still bring this up with my parents at Christmas. Every single year.

7. Speak and Spell 


Because what’s more fun that giving yourself a spelling test? You know, apart from pretty much anything you can imagine? I don’t know why I wanted this, but I did. I wanted it bad. And I so, so loved it when I got one.  It did spelling tests, and codes and games and EVERYTHING. I used to play with it in bed, after lights out. It was almost as much fun as my Little Professor calculator. What. A. Nerd. 

8. Totopoly 


Some people had Trivial Pursuit, or Guess Who? I wanted Totopoly, the fun game for the whole family that introduced children to the basics of betting on horses. Totopoly was very exciting because the board had TWO sides. On one side, you trained your horses and on the second, you raced. I remember playing this by myself against imaginary opponents. That way, I could always be my favourite horses (the black ones – Dorigen, who I felt should be very fast, and Dark Warrior, who I could just sense liked to sabotage the race for everyone else). Possibly, I spent too much time alone as a child.

9. Rubik’s Snake 


Let’s face it. The Rubik’s cube was hard. Who’s got time for that? In contrast, the Rubik’s Snake was a) easier b) cuter and c) more fun to play with because it could actually be a snake, or a rope, or a… rectangle. No honestly, it was way more fun than it sounds. Possibly.

10. Casio Calculator Watch



Ah, the 1980s were a simpler time. I coveted a digital watch just like my oldest brother’s – although nothing could be cooler than his watch, which had a RED digital display, like some kind of amazing space gadget from the future.  These things could tell time, do hard sums AND time you as you ran races. Amazeballs. Sometimes, for kicks, I like to imagine Flea’s face if she I gave her one of these for Christmas.  It’s not pretty.

So there you have it.

Definitive proof.

Modern toys are rubbish.