For many of us who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, nothing takes us back to our childhood as quickly as memories of opening gifts on Christmas Day. Even though toys varied widely as Gen Xers grew up, many toys and games kids received during this era were brand new–we’re not talking just bikes and train sets. Some were even technological firsts. From plush toys to dolls and the latest in video games, we’re taking a look at the top 12 best presents Gen X received during the holidays.
Cabbage Patch Kids (1984)
If you were a kid in the ‘80s, you probably had one or more of these plastic head, cloth body dolls. But do you remember the story of the Cabbage Patch Kids? Apparently, the dolls did indeed grow from cabbages. Pollinated by magical crystals from “bunny-bees,” Cabbage Patch Kids were rescued from a neglected cabbage patch garden by a 10-year-old boy. Thankfully, the boy helped the kids find loving homes throughout the world. In fact, each Cabbage Patch Kid came with their own adoption papers.
Although Pong started off as a large arcade video game, it soon became one of the first in-home video games to hit the market. The two-dimensional table tennis game seems quaint now. However, the Home Pong version of the game was a massive hit during the 1975 Christmas season.
Teddy Ruxpin (1985)
Were you friends with Teddy Ruxpin? The animatronic bear became friends with each child who listened to one of his stories. If you had one of these bears, you probably remember the tape deck in his back, as well as his eyes and mouth that moved. Plus, your new friend could also read you 39 stories.
Nintendo Entertainment System (1986)
From Mario Brothers to The Legend of Zelda, every child in the ‘80s wanted to have a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). You knew you were lucky if you also had the NES Zapper to play Duck Hunt.
Atari 2600 (1977)
You hit the motherload on Christmas Day in 1977 if Santa brought you an Atari 2600. The home video game console came with two joysticks and the cartridge, Combat. Plus, you could purchase eight additional games if the large price tag didn’t set you back. In 1977, this console cost $199, equivalent to $953 in today’s money.
Koosh Balls (1989)
The ultimate stocking stuffer in the late ‘80s were Koosh Balls. Who didn’t love the stretchy rubber strands that came in so many colors? From multicolor versions to Koosh balls with faces and hands, every kid could have this toy in their favorite style. The best part? They didn’t hurt when you threw them at your siblings all afternoon.
Pound Puppies (1984)
These cute and cuddly dogs were welcome in any childhood home. These plush stuffed dogs came in several colors and styles. Each dog came with its very own adoption certificate and was definitely “loveable huggable,” as its tagline said. Plus, if dogs weren’t your thing, you could also get the cat version called Pound Pur-r-ries.
Pet Rock (1975)
Is there anything more genius than branding a rock as a pet? If you were a kid in the ‘70s, you didn’t care that the pet you had at home was a rock. You were just excited to get your first pet! Also, the pet rocks came with their own 32-page manual in case you needed any help caring for your new family member.
Care Bears (1983)
These popular bears tell kids that “caring is what counts.” The colorful plush teddy bears were a hit throughout the ‘80s and have recently made a comeback. The 10 original Care Bears even expanded to include Care Bear Cousins, which aren’t even bears! These family members include Brave Heart Lion, Cozy Heart Penguin, and Lotsa Heart Elephant.
Think fast! With flashing lights and sounds, Simon creates sequences that challenge the memory of each user. When the player completes one round, the patterns become longer and more complex. While the game was a hit for children, many parents were sure to find the lights and sounds a bit much, even on Christmas Day.
Fisher-Price Record Record Player (1971)
The Fisher-Price classic was one way to start your DJ career in the ’70s. The record player included five double-sided toy records that played a total of 10 songs. With a handle for portability, it was essential for any young music lover.
He-Man And She-Ra (1982 & 1984)
For any child in the ’80s, He-Man and She-Ra toys were a must-have. The twin brother and sister duo from the Masters of the Universe franchise defended the universe from the evil forces of Skeletor. According to a December 1984 The New York Times article, the toys also conquered the universe of the toy market. They were one of the most popular toys that Christmas season.