We Just Love... the 80s


There’s nothing quite like the 1980s era, right? There’s just way too much to reminisce about – the awesome music, the revolting, mortifying outstanding fashion, the TV shows, the movies. Yep. The 80s were a treasure-trove of phenomenon, and undeniably the greatest decade for a little one to grow up in, for sure. From spokey dokes and floppy disks to Grange Hill and Madonna, we’ve rounded up all the things we just love about the 1980s…

 

Floppy Disks

 

By George Chernilevsky (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

While portable external hard drives, optical discs, memory cards, USB flash drives and online storage databases like DropBox, iCloud and OneDrive are all very nice, any ‘80s kid will never forget the nifty device that was the floppy disk. Made of plastic and measuring three and a half inches, these handy devices are actually still available today, although many computers don’t accommodate them anymore. Don’t you find yourself chuckling away when your children ask why the “save” icon is a strange square?!

 

Neighbours

 

 

If you were an ‘80s kid, there was absolutely no excuse not to watch this Aussie soap drama, whether you watched it at lunchtime, after school, or both. Altogether now… 

 

Speak & Spell

 

 

Nowadays, if we can’t work out how to spell a word, we simply log onto Google. In the 80’s, this wasn’t as easy, but who needed an online spell check when there was the Speak & Spell? It even put E.T. to shame. The Speak & Spell – one of the most iconic toys of the 1980s – was an extra-terrestrial-style teaching machine.

 

Chewits Advert, 1980

 

 

Our favourite ad from the ‘80s would have to be this one, featuring The Muncher heading to London to find new things to chew, but once again falls back on his old favourites...

 

The Rubik’s Cube

 

 

Invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, this colourful little cube brought joy and annoyance to many folk, young and old. It didn’t achieve mass popularity until the early ‘80s and is now the world’s most popular puzzle game. With nine smaller squares on each side, the Rubik’s cube gave users hours of entertainment as they tried to return each side of the cube to a solid colour by turning it around several times. This seems like a simple concept, but after a few hours, and a few time outs, most people realise they’re both mesmerised by the puzzle, yet no closer to solving it.

 

Spokey Dokes

 

 

Sure, you might think BMXs and Choppers are cool, but Spokey Dokes totally ruled in the ‘80s, taking all things two-wheeled into the realms of stupefaction. These colourful plastic beads clipped onto wheel spokes and, during a slow-speed ride, would have time to slide up and down the spoke, looking like a colourful blur. On hand in every colour of the rainbow, cyclists would jam as many of them onto their spokes as possible. As for the noise they made, many would say it was pretty annoying. And visually? They were unsightly. These brightly-coloured nuisances were also available with glow-in-the-dark properties. Quite how this is exciting, we’re not really sure.

 

Calculator Watches

 

 

In an age before mobile phones got tiny enough to carry, a calculator watch was a definite sign of someone who had a passion for geeky stuff. With Casio’s kingdom of electronic watches, who needed the bog-standard calculator in maths lessons? These nifty gadgets featured buttons only teeny-weeny fingers could accurately press. Later, technology advanced to include TV remotes in them, resulting in kids watching videos in class - or leading to squabbles during an episode of ChuckleVision, Fun House or The Bill between siblings after school.

 

Grange Hill

 

 

What could beat watching a TV show after school, about kids who were at school? That would be Grange Hill, a must-watch when home.

 

Clarks Magic Steps Shoes

 

 

In the ‘80s, Clarks was the place to go for a pair of school shoes, but people generally viewed their stock as dull. With this in mind, Clarks had a bright idea: Produce something totally eye-catching. And boom; out came Magic Steps – a pair of rather smart shoes with a difference... they came in a whimsical box, along with a ‘magic key’ that doubled up as a brooch, which was worn on jackets all over the UK. In later years, the key could turn a lock on the bottom of the shoe to show hidden – if not slightly strange and pointless – images under a plexiglass covering. Not a patch on today’s Converse trainers.

 

My Little Pony

 

 

‘80s girls will totally remember the pastel-coloured hairy equines that were the first generation of My Little Pony. Hasbro’s horse figurines hit the jackpot with every little girl in the 1980s, its creators going on to successfully re-release the toy line in recent years. Littlies would line up these dainty pony dolls on shelves and admire them in all their sparkly, pastel glory. These pony accessories – with their cartoony-cute features, playfully dappled rumps, glossy manes and tails – put Disney Frozen dolls to shame, don’t you think?

 

He-Man

 

 

… and the masters of the universe, obviously. It was one of the most popular animated kids’ shows of the 1980s. And you can see why… (smiley face).

 

Boglins

 

 

One of the hottest, not to mention ugliest, toys of the late 1980s, Mattel’s Boglins were eerie, ugly, gruesome rubbery puppets that had an amazingly long span of fame for such simple toys, and no supplementary media (cartoons, books, movies, and so on). There were three “races” of Boglins up for grabs: Flurp, Plunk, Dwork. These ugly little critters with their moveable eyes came in cages – they weren’t, under any circumstance, a rip-off of Gremlins. 

 

Jelly Shoes

 

 

In this marvellous era, you could get your mitts on a pair of these plastic, shiny shoes in a range of colours and styles (glitter anyone?); you didn’t have to be under the age of seven to get away with wearing them. ‘80s chicks could pick up a pair for £1 in many UK stores. They’ve enjoyed a few resurrections, particularly during the ‘90s, and, over the summer were even spotted in the shops, so grab ‘em while you still can.

 

Push Pops

 

 

"Push pops (candy)" by Editor182 (talk) - I (Editor182 (talk)) created this work entirely by myself.Transferred from en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Push_pops_(candy).jpg#/media/File:Push_pops_(candy).jpg

 

The absolute bee’s knees in the world of lollipops, Push Pops took the world by storm when they graced the UK confectionary shelves in the late ‘80s. The idea behind them? To appeal to sweet-toothed folk who preferred licking their lolly over an extended period of time. Topps’ ingenious transportable block of sugar also appealed to kids in the classroom – the non-sticky pocket-sized sweet could be whipped out whenever, wherever. Ultimately, why would you have a bog-standard lollipop when you could push one out of a plastic case like a lipstick? We want to bring them back.

 

Permed Hair

 

 

"Farrah Fawcett 1977" by ABC Television - eBay itemphoto frontphoto back. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Farrah_Fawcett_1977.JPG#/media/File:Farrah_Fawcett_1977.JPG

 

Who said perms were just for the ladies? No, siree. This ‘do’ was sported by heaps of blokey music fans who were inspired by their rock idols of the time. Almost as shocking as the mullet (but only just), and even more tricky to take care of, the perm is a fine example of a hair style that should be strictly ‘80s only’.

 

Nike Air Max 

 

By Universalmaster (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

None other than Nike’s Air Max line of trainers, launched in 1987. They’ve remained popular with the young and old ever since, hitting their high in the UK around 1989. Nike Air Max trainers boasted classic bubble soles that allegedly made you run faster and jump higher. Check ‘em out. 

 

Fingerless Gloves

 

Cotton, Linen, & Lace Fingerless Gloves Sand_and_Sky

 

Fingerless gloves stared making waves in the ‘80s and by 1984, they’d reached the height of their popularity after musical stars like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Billy Idol started sporting them. They harmonised the style for other “cut off” clothing, such as ripped/acid wash jeans. There were the lace glove-wearing new romantics and the leather/vinyl punk styles. Not only that, punks preferred donning large studded wristbands that were normally up near the base of the thumb.

 

Tunes Advert (1980s) 

 

And this one gave us a laugh. A UK TV advert from the 1980s advertising Tunes - for stuffed up noses...

 

Leg Warmers

 

Kimberly Kling Leg Warmers, 13th November 2008

 

What could be more typically “80’s fashion” than leg warmers? Before the 1980s, leg warmers were actually used by professional dancers to keep the lower legs warm, so it’s no shock that when dancing movies Fame and Flashdance graced the cinema screens in the early 80s, leg warmers rapidly became must-have items of the age.

 

Jean Jackets

 

 

You basically weren’t cool in the ‘80s if you didn’t own jean jacket. You were super-cool if yours was ripped, customised, and/or acid washed. And you’d get extra cool points if you put pins, patches and buttons on it – or basically just modified it to bits. They’re still in fashion today, although it’s not as cool to have a ripped, customised or acid washed one anymore…

 

Cabbage Patch Kids

 

William McKeehan, Cabbage Patch Kids, Taken on June 21, 2013

 

These slightly evil-looking dolls – with their plastic heads, fabric bodies and yarn hair – were launched in 1983 and were at the top of every little one’s Christmas list that year. Why? Because they were ‘unique’, ‘huggable’ and ‘adoptable’. It was claimed that each Cabbage Patch Kids doll had a different head mould, eye shape and colour, hair style and colour. Even their clothing wasn’t the same. All of this plus the fact that inside each Cabbage Patch Kids box came a "birth certificate," with that particular child’s first and middle name on it, made the dolls as distinctive as the littlie who wanted to adopt them.

 

Gordon the Gopher (and the Broom Cupboard)

 

 

Any 80s kid will remember this kids’ TV show, with Phillip Schofield’s cutesy squeaking sidekick, (and no, it wasn’t Andy Crane!).

 

St. Ivel Gold Margarine Spread

 

 

Flora and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter don’t even compare to St Ivel’s Gold Margarine Spread. It was the best spread to have on toast. Wasn’t it the most magically wonderful thing ever? Other margarines and butters just don't compare to gold. Bring…  it back! Plus, it was half the fat of any margarine…

 

Madonna

 

"1980s Madonna style" by http://www.flickr.com/people/lovemaegan/ - http://www.flickr.com/photos/lovemaegan/3990846642. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1980s_Madonna_style.jpg#/media/File:1980s_Madonna_style.jpg

 

Who – or what – could be any cooler than the queen of pop? She kissed boys, chewed gum and flashed her bra – and she did all this as well as singing and boogying. ‘80s kids were changed forever…

 

Video Games

 

 

The golden age of arcade video games, the 80s saw in the likes of Mac-Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Pole Position… if you weren’t playing them at home, you were playing them at the arcade with all that pocket money. Here’s a snippet of Donkey Kong…

 

Slush Puppies

 

Martin Lewison, Slush Puppie at Horecava, Taken on January 11, 2011

 

If there’s one thing sure to give you a good dose of ‘brain freeze’ quicker than a freshly opened iced lolly, it’s guzzling down a mouthful of Slush Puppie – that unforgettable iced drink creation. You’d request your flavour, and a few squirts of syrup and a splotch of ice later, you’d be bestowed with your ice-cold beverage and a straw. Yum!