Feb 04 2010

7 Must-Have Toys and Gadgets from 80s Movies and Television

Published by at 12:00 pm under Lists,Movies,Television

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As a child of the 80s, I’ve hung on to the cheesy, simple, yet incredibly uplifting movies of my childhood.  Something tells me that a lot of our readers can relate.  The 1980s didn’t see the technology boom that seemed to really manifest in the 90s, and our knowledge of computers and programming was still in its infancy.  Still, that didn’t prevent 1980s movies and TV shows from featuring all sorts of cool toys and gadgets, many of which I would have killed to get my hands on.

My intentions back then – were I to ever actually acquire said toys and gadgets – were for the most part innocent, and only now as I have grown jaded and cynical do I view these items as tools of power and destruction.  Regardless of my intent, the 1980s gave us some killer cravings.  There are seven that really stick out in my mind, and I’ve listed them after the jump.  If there are any toys or gadgets from 80s movies or television that you think I left off, let me know in the comments section.

Pee-wee Herman’s Bicycle

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When I was a kid, Pee-wee Herman was the coolest guy in the world and pretty much everything I ever wanted to be.  Fortunately, my tatstes changed quite a bit as I got older and I haven’t been caught wearing a grey tuxedo and masturbating in an adult theater (yet).  One aspect of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure that I still long for, though, is his incredible bicycle.  It’s no wonder that Pee-wee traveled across the country in search of his stolen bike, as the thing made regular bikes seem like mere stone wheels.  Pee-wee’s bicycle was fit for James Bond, complete with limitless chain storage and jet propulsion.

I think that at some point, every kid dreams of having an awesome bicycle, and no bike was better than Pee-wee’s.

Paulie’s Robot from Rocky IV

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There’s a lot of weird human-on-robot lust to be considered, but Paulie’s robot from Rocky IV would be a dream come true.  Never again would you have to leave the couch to grab something to drink or a snack, but more importantly, the robot would never complain about its role as an electronic slave.  Paulie changed the robot’s voice from a harsh, buzzing tone to the soothing tone of a woman’s, which leads me to believe that one could program the robot to sound however he or she desires.  Would you like your robot to sound like Penelope Cruz?  How about Sam Jackson?  Regardless, having a compliant servant is tough to beat.

The Train Set in Silver Spoons

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I didn’t know one kid who didn’t want this oversized train set at some point.  There’s really not much to it aside from the fact that you can, you know, ride on the friggin’ thing, but when you’re a kid, sometimes the simplest joys are the greatest.  When I was very young, I had a friend who actually had a secret tunnel from his living room into his bedroom, and I thought that was the coolest thing I had ever seen.  I probably would have had a stroke if he had laid down some train tracks on it.

Ferris Bueller’s Computer

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(Wow, Ferris has excellent taste in websites.)  Computers can do just about anything now, and it’s only a matter of time before one passes the Turing test.  But in 1986, computers were big, clunky machines that took forever to do anything, and God forbid you even owned a modem.  Ferris’ computer, though, was years ahead of its time.

In addition to simulating the sounds of snoring and coughing so as to trick your parents when you’re off driving around in your friend’s dad’s Ferrari, Ferris’ computer could change the number of days you’ve been absent at school.  Knowing what I know now and having that type of machine in 1986, I’d be either filthy rich or locked up in federal prison.

The Piano in Big

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Apparently the giant piano from Big is an actual, purchasable toy, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever met anyone who’s actually owned one.  The Big piano is probably more of a novelty than a toy you’re actually going to play very often, as anything more than a simple tune would probably get tiring pretty fast.  Maybe it’d be a great way to get in shape, but playing Beethoven could result in a heart attack.  I imagine I’d spend most of my time getting a running start and then sliding across the keys before messign around for a few minutes and then growing frustrated.  It’s not the most practical item on this list, but dammit, I just want one, OK?

Hoverboards in Back to the Future II

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Really, it’s tough to think of more insane rumors than the ones that surfaced sometime around 1989.  Specifically, the rumors that hoverboards actually existed.  As laughable as that seems, many kids were convinced that they could somehow own a floating skateboard, which would easily qualify as the coolest toy if it were actually real.  Unlike a skateboard, you’d be able to ride your hoverboard virtually anywhere (except, as we all know, on water), and a 12-year-old with a “Pitbull” model would be like the cool kid in high school with the motorcycle.  So is Mattel ever going to make one of these things or what?

Lisa in Weird Science

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I saved the best for last, as Lisa is pretty easily the most desirable “toy” on this entire list.  A woman who looks like Kelly LeBrock and is able to manipulate time, weather, memories, and matter itself?  I’ll take two.





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31 responses so far

  • IcemanD

    I wanted that train set more than anything.

  • Nattyb

    A little incestuous that the robot’s voice wound up being Adrienne’s no? Great list Madison.

  • DarkPassenger

    I got a “Lisa” one year for Xmas back in ’88 and broke her by New Year’s… and haven’t been the same since…

    “Why? Why was I programmed to feel pain?” -The Simpsons

  • http://nerdaverse.com theButterFly

    A pretty great list Madison. However, no “Slick Shoes” or “Pinchers of Pal”?

  • Madison

    @ IcemanD

    it is impossible to be under 12 years old, watch Silver Spoons, and NOT want that train.

    @ Nattyb

    That was Adrian’s voice??? That’s a little weird, huh?

    @ DarkPassenger

    That’s totally understandable.

  • Madison

    @ TheButterfly

    Thanks. Would “slick shoes” be from the Goonies? That would have been a nice addition for sure. Good call.

  • http://nerdaverse.com theButterFly

    @madison
    Both “Slick Shoes” and “Pinchers of Pal” were some of Data’s inventions from Goonies.

  • IcemanD

    @theButterFly: Ahh, Goonies. For years I thought Baby Ruth was a made up chocolate bar (Hey, we didn’t get it in Canada and I was 8)

  • IcemanD

    Stupid smiley’s, that was supposed to say “I was 8″

  • http://nerdaverse.com theButterFly

    @ Iceman Yeah, but you guys had Aero bars. mmmm…Aero bars…

  • IcemanD

    @theButterfly: You guys didn’t have Aero? Hmm, I never knew that.

  • http://nerdaverse.com theButterFly

    @ Iceman – Nope. No Aero bars for us. However, thankfully I grew up near the border, so they could be obtained on family trips to Toronto and Niagara Falls.

    Sorry we’ve derailed your post with talk of candy bars Madison.

  • http://shinymetalthing.com shiny metal thing

    @theButterFly

    I think they are called “Pinchers of Peril” in the Goonies.

    I agree.. that would be awesome!!!

    http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/g/goonies-script-transcript-sloth-astin.html

  • Madison

    Ha, no worries. You’ve just made me hungry.

  • Inviktus

    I always thought it was “pinchers of power”

    The only toy I ever wanted when I was a kid was the main voltron that completed the others. I had all the others but my parents never saw fit to buy me the main one thus allowing me to actually build the damn voltron thingie. assholes.

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  • Muppet Baby

    Huh. I thought it was ‘Pinchers of Hell’. That’s funny!

    I wanted those automatic shoes in Back to the Future II, AND that pizza hydrator…

  • http://www.stunningmesh.com Stunning Mesh

    I’m waiting for more !!!

  • http://actionfiguresbuff-jon.com/blog Jon the action figures buff

    That giant piano would be killer…

  • http://actionfiguresbuff-jon.com/blog Jon the action figures buff

    Thumbs up for the article by the way. Page bookmarked.

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  • Pingback: 7 Must-Have Toys and Gadgets from 80s Movies and Television | Attuworld.com

  • Bartuzzi

    Any of you guys remember the spaceship from Flight of the Navigator? That would be an awesome gadget!!

  • Jim

    There is NO F’ING WAY you could have forgotten the Proton Pack from Ghostbusters. Oh, wait a minute, “The Proton Pack is not a toy” according to Egon lol

  • dan

    i’d said the ghost trapper from ghostbusters.

  • anniebmice

    Okay, perhaps this isn’t a toy per se, but I’d still love to have the original KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand)! :D Was never interested in the Hoff… but I would have died to have that car!!
    And how about “Automan”? He was a computer that could transform into a really cool car! Or does anyone remember that one? It was a VERY short-lived TV show from the 80’s. :P

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  • http://gadgetgeek.in@gmail.com Toys gadgets

    80’s gadgets were too good but less expensive than todays gadgets.

  • Tasmanian devil

    Stuff the big train from Silver Spoons, I was always gobsmacked by the remote control front door. Why turn a handle when you can just push a button. (It would probably be a death trap in a house fire, having to find the remote under the couch cushions).

  • http://n/a Stefnir

    The computer in ferris buller did not make the sick sounds, it was an E-mu emulator 2, a sampler…

    http://www.vintagesynth.com/emu/emulator2.php

    i have one!!! suck on that!

  • The Pretty Idiot

    Gadgets:

    How about the Omni? (The little time “travelly” do-dad from the TV show Voyagers!)

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