Maybe you had a hundred GI Joe figures when you were a kid, but if you didn’t get your hands on the USS Flagg you probably still feel unfulfilled. Maybe you still remember the sense of dejection you had while comparing hauls with the kids in the cafeteria, because you knew you weren’t coming away with a victory.
The good news is that if you’ve got an eBay account (and some disposable income), you can right the wrongs of the past and make this the greatest Christmas of your life. Sure, it’ll be slightly awkward when your presents to yourself greatly outshine the ones that you get your kids — but you’re teaching them about the value of wish fulfillment. When you get down to it, isn’t a life lesson the best gift of all?
Maybe not…because these eight ’80s presents blow life lessons off the board.
Originally released by Mattel in 1987, Boglins were incredibly cool monster hand puppets that came in a variety of designs. While popular, Boglins never really took off. (A line of mini figures was also released, but they too were under-appreciated).
In the year 2000, Mattel attempted to revive the line, but once again America was unwilling to embrace the creepy wonders because they were too caught up with their rollerblades and Y2K.
With a growing online cult dedicated to the toys and their various incarnations, though, expect these to rise, Phoenix-like, from toy obscurity sooner rather than later.
Where you can find one now: Here’s a little secret, Boglins are always turning up priced reasonably on Etsy.
1980s SAT time: He-Man is to Castle Grayskull as Skeletor is to _________. If you said Snake Mountain, you are absolutely correct. Featuring a design that makes the immersive playset look like a leftover production design from The Dark Crystal — seriously, tell me there’s not a Jim Henson influence here — the toy is infinitely cooler than where He-Man hangs his hat, sword, whatever. The takeaway from all of this? Being evil means you’re destined to score a pretty great lair and, since cartoon villains never die, a pretty great mortgage rate thanks to the job stability.
Where you can find one now: Thrift stores, eBay, flea markets, back-alley toy dealers, you name it. This is a fairly common toy.
We’ve written about the mighty U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier before, but given its sheer coolness factor, endless play value, and massive size (nearly 8 feet tall) it remains high on the wish lists of 1980s kids. I mean, you don’t just forget about G.I. Joe fighting for freedom whenever there’s trouble. And financial trouble is what you’ll be in if you want to shell out for one of these bad boys in 2015. Finding a mint-in-box Flagg is a nigh-impossible challenge that will cost you more than a grand. Still, the look on your COBRA-hating friends faces when they see this taking up a large part of your studio apartment? That’s priceless. Yo Joe!
Where you can buy one now: Local toy shows are your best bet, but be warned: These are incredibly tough to find in mint condition and/or containing all of the Flagg’s parts, making this the Holy Grail of G.I. Joe collectibles.
Jem Dolls and Cassette
For those of a certain age, this year’s biggest disappointment was the Jem and the Holograms movie. No, seriously. The cartoon had a fantastic mythology of its own that included a computerized godmother in the form of Synergy, built-in villains (The Misfits), romance, action, and great songs. The film had… less. But, at least, the dolls exist and are still as impressive as they were 30 years ago. As for that music tape that some of the characters came with at participating retailers, well that’s just nostalgic pop bliss.
Barbie’s Dream House
The ’80s were a blur, but I know I was at a bar in Malibu and I met this gal named Skipper. She invited me back to the place she was housesitting and man, it was a wild scene. Janice from the Muppets got into a drag-out fight with Princess Leia. Destro was coked out of his mind and eventually fell asleep on the patio. When he awoke, he shoved his sun-baked head right into He-Man’s back and gave the dude third-degree burns. Eventually, three Smurfs drowned and the cops shut the whole thing down. Wild times.
To this day, I can’t hear “Bette Davis Eyes” without thinking of Skipper.
My point is, the Barbie dream house really was a place where all toys could gather as your imagination dreamed up myriad situations, including the one described above. If you didn’t have one, or if you didn’t have access to your sister’s, then I’m not sure you had a childhood, so you should go rectify that now. Unlike everything else on this list, the Dream House options of today are probably going to be more fun thanks to technological advancements. I’m pretty sure those things have Wi-Fi now.
Where you can find one now: The vintage models pop up fairly regularly, and the most reasonable version will set you back $380 on Amazon. But that’s a small price to pay to provide inanimate objects with luxury, no? There’s a thesis about the correlation between the housing bubble bursting and the rising cost of Barbie Dream Houses to be written.
My Buddy/Kid Sister
These toys were designed for children with no real friends, but now that you’re big time, you don’t really need a My Buddy doll in your life. Still, sometimes the laughter stops and everyone goes home leaving you all alone once again — though there have been advancements in “I’m bored and alone, fill the void with noise” technology, you can’t hug Siri or an Amazon Echo, can you? Go buy a Buddy. They seem to range from $15-50 on eBay.
Where you can find one now: These things are everywhere on the internet; just shop smart, okay? Prices can be nuts on these things.
Ideal’s Manglors line of toys were one of the biggest bait-and-switches of the 1980s. Advertised as being able to be pulled apart and then be reassembled, these sticky, gooey nightmares-for-carpeting did not deliver on their promises and word spread among disappointed kids of how they ripped a head off their cool new monster toy, forever ruining it. The story of the Manglors is a shame because the various toys in the line (more of which can be glimpsed here) would have been fantastic if they didn’t have that one crucial design flaw. The Manglor Mountain playset, on the other hand, was a cave that, in a further FU to mess-hating parents, let you immerse your Manglor in a puddle of slime. This toy should have been a sensation, and probably would have been if the Manglor was made of solid indestructible plastic instead of whatever mystery polymer it was built from. Currently, Toyfinity has the Manglor license and they will be unleashing new figures made with the interactive Glyos system. With this news comes hope that the Manglors will finally get the respect they deserve.
Where you can find one now: If you can’t wait for the sure-to-be superior Toyfinity versions, the originals pop up occasionally on eBay. Though something tells me they are less durable than ever.
The Nintendo Power Glove
You can find a practical fun-having application for nearly everything on this list, but unless you have a working NES and the ability to make the Power Glove not suck, this last one will pose a problem. On the other hand (get it?), possessing the Nintendo Power Glove is and always has been about something more: status. I don’t mean to sleep on the wow factor of the Boglins, but if you roll into work with one you’re going to get a few knowing glances and that’s about it. Show up with a Power Glove and you’re going to get that warming wave of attention that you longed for when you were a kid after you saw The Wizard.
Where you can find one now: You too can be a wizard if you’re willing to part with $80 on eBay.