On this episode of Return to the ’80s, Robert and Paul welcome Ty Ray, from the Beats and Eats podcast, to the show. The guys Return to 1981, and count down the year’s top songs, movies, and television shows. Also, find out what the biggest selling toys were in 1981, and reminisce on the big news stories of the year.
As this current decade comes to a close, come join us to Return to the greatest decade ever, and check out the awesome year of 1981!
Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 – January 25, 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome
Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets 4-2
New York Islanders defeat the Minnesota North Stars 4-1
LA Dodgers beat the New York Yankees 4-1
January 20 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days freed
March 6 Walter Cronkite signs off of CBS Evening News
March 30 Reagan Assassination attempt
April 18 The Longest Game – Pawtucket Red Sox tie Rochester Red Wings 2-2 in 32 innings (game resumed 23rd June)
May 11 Cats premieres in London
May 13 Assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II
Jun 2 Barbara Walters asks Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be
Jun 5 AIDS Epidemic officially begins when US Centers for Disease Control reports on pneumonia affecting five homosexual men in Los Angeles
Jun 12 Baseball players begin a 50 day strike, their 3rd strike
July 29 Royal Wedding
Aug 1 MTV premieres at 12:01 AM
Aug 3 13,000 Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO) begin their strike; US President Ronald Reagan offers an ultimatum to workers: ‘if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated’
Sep 12 “The Smurfs” animated cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera first broadcasts in North America
Sep 25 Sandra Day O’Connor sworn in as 1st female supreme court justice
Dec 11 Muhammad Ali’s 61st & last fight, losing to Trevor Berbick
Dec 28 1st American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr is born in Norfolk, Virginia
Also please let us know if you have any innovations you’d like to discuss. In addition to technology, they can be toys, movies, fashion, or food as there could be some interesting items that you loved or hated back in the 80s that you want to talk about. Please leave a comment below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be recording a new episode of the Return to the ’80s podcast, and this will be a segment on that episode. So we would love to hear from you.
Today I am excited to present to you another ’80s crossover event. It is becoming an awesome monthly event. As with our ’80s cars crossover, this event is being coordinated by 80s Reboot Overdrive. Our family is also growing as we picked up another blog/podcast to join our group.
This month we are talking about our 3 favorite Christmas gifts. These could be gifts that we received, gave, or wanted, but not received. Before I get into my picks, here is the list of participants. Every one of these is awesome, and I highly recommend that you check them out and show them some love.
I’m not sure if this was from the late ’70s or early ’80s. But, I loved the Talking View Master. When I was a small child, I had a regular view master. It was so cool and mesmerizing seeing the 3D images that told a story. But, the Talking View Master brought it up another level. It was also a bonus that the one I had contained stories featuring Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. The View Master itself was huge in size compared to the regular View Master. The round reel also had a plastic disc attached to the back of it. When you looked through it, you would press the button on the back, and it would talk, and tell the story on each image.
Back in Black
My birthday is in September. For my birthday in 1980, my parents gave me my very first tape recorder, along with a cassette of Kiss Unmasked. My parents are music lovers, and were smart enough to know that it was time for me to listen to my own music. No more Neil Diamond, Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver, or Barry Manilow for me! I listened to that Kiss cassette non-stop.
So that Christmas, my tape collection doubled, and my music taste was set for life. I found out after the fact that my dad went to Zayre, and asked the kid in the music department what the kids are listening to these days. And the kid pointed out AC/DC’s Back in Black to him. And the rest is history. Back in Black is one of the greatest albums of all time. There is not a single low point on this album. I had been familiar with AC/DC because a friend of mine had Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap on 8-track. I mean, c’mon. What boy didn’t laugh his ass off at the song “Big Balls”? But, when I got Back in Black, I became a rock fan for life. From the opening gongs of “Hells Bells” to the surprisingly mellow, and different sounding, “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”, with classics like the title track and “You Shook Me All Night Long”, this album is nothing short of legendary.
Handheld Electronic Games
I got most of my toys when I was a child in the ’70s. In the ’80s, I was a little too old for kids toys. Luckily, I was growing up in the greatest decade ever. It was the dawn of electronic games. Not as clumsy or complicated as today’s games, those early handheld games were elegant for a more civilized time. They were simple and fun. You didn’t need somebody brains blown all over your screen. All you needed was a couple of dots or lines, and you could spend 8 hours of playing a game without realizing how much time passed. On Christmas, we would open our presents as soon as we got up. Then we went to church. I could not wait for mass to be over so I could get home and play my games! These are just a few games that stood out to me.
The thing that stood out to me with this game, besides the early cell phone shape, was that Merlin had 6 games on one device! Here are the list of games:
Tic Tac Toe – It’s exactly what you think. A simple Tic Tac Toe game. Music Machine – Each button had a distinct sound. So you would program your own music, and Merlin would play it back once you had it programmed. The instruction manual had a list of songs with the numbers to program, if you didn’t wnat to make something up. Echo – This was just like Simon, where buttons would light up in a sequence, and you would have to copy that sequence. Blackjack 13 – This was just like Blackjack, except you had to get 13 or under instead of 21. Magic Square – You would play this with another person. You would hit some numbers, then your opponent would have to figure out which numbers you selected Mindbender – Similar to Magic Square. Except it was a 1 player game. Merlin would have a 4 digit number, and you would need to guess the 4 digits in the correct order. If you got a number in the right spot, the number would flash, and you would keep trying.
Like most kids in the ’80s, I loved going to the arcade, and playing every game I could. Unfortunately, I could not go to the arcade all the time, and I only had a limited number of quarters. So, one Christmas I got the next best thing! I got the Frogger tabletop arcade game by Coleco. The best thing about this was the game was shaped like the actual arcade game – and you didn’t need to put quarters in! There was also Pac-Man, Galaxian, and Donkey Kong. I only had Frogger, which was good enough for me.
Head to Head Football
Finally, another one of my favorite games was my Tandy Head to Head Football. I believe Coleco made the more popular version, but I had the orange Tandy version that I could not get enough of. I had some other single player games, such as baseball and soccer. But this football game was different because 2 people could play at once. One side of the device would control the offense, and the other site controlled the defense. When the other person got the ball, you would turn the game around and switch sides. Your players would be simple lines. You could run or pass. When you passed, you could see the little round dot being thrown. Another good thing about this game was that you did not need 2 players. You could play against the computer.
Well, that wraps things up. Again, please check out these other people, and see what their favorites were.
Hi Everybody, we have exciting news! Next week will be another ’80s crossover event. Return to the ’80s is once again collaborating with 80s Reboot Overdrive, along with Weegiemidget, Killer Kitsch, and Rediscover the 80s. This time, the subject will be our Top 3 80’s Christmas Gifts.
If you would like to join in on the conversation, please email us at Returnto80s@gmail.com, and tell us your top 3 Christmas gifts, whether it be a gift that was given, or received, or most wanted and not received. We may read your email on the air for our next podcast, if you’d like.
Now that I’m 5 years into this blog, I am being contacted by some cool companies more and more often. I am excited about this new company, that has contacted me, called Man Crates. They ship awesome gifts which come in a wooden crate that needs to be opened with a crowbar. There are many different packages available. For example, there is a Personalized Barware crate, Exotic Meats crate, Grill Master crate, Outdoor Survivor crate, a Retro Gamer crate, and…wait for it…an Old School crate. This Old School crate contains a Slinky, a Rubick’s Cube, a Yomega Yo-Yo, a Pez dispenser, and a ton of old school candy.
I was challenged to share my memories, and share what items would be in my crate. So, let’s have some fun, and take a trip down memory lane!
I was born in 1970, so I have almost as many memories of the ’70s as I do of the ’80s. So, we’ll begin there, and work our way through the ’80s.
The Early Years: 1970-1974
I don’t remember what I did 5 minutes ago. But I do remember that before I was old enough to go to school, I would need to take an afternoon nap. I’m sure toddlers and little kids do need to take naps. However, I think I had to take naps so I would be out of my mother’s hair while she watched her “stories” (a.k.a., Days of Our Lives, Another World, and The Doctors). But, at 3:30, it was time for me to watch my “stories”. This would consist of reruns of Batman (the Adam West version, obviously), then the grandaddy of all kids shows – Sesame Street (Who else here remembers Mr. Blooper…I mean Mr. Hooper?), Mr. Rogers, and The Electric Company (my favorite). I think Zoom was on after that, but I don’t ever remember watching it. The Electric Company was my introduction to Spiderman and Morgan Freeman.
Here are some items from that time period that I would include in my crate: The Official Sesame Street 2 Book-and-Record Album and The Year of Roosevelt Franklin
I have mentioned several times on this site that my first cassettes I ever owned were Kiss Unmasked and AC/DC Back in Black. But The Official Sesame Street 2 Book-and-Record Album and The Year of Roosevelt Franklin were my very first albums. They were both released in 1971. The Sesame Street album had classics such as the Sesame Street theme song, “Play Along“, “Everyone Makes Mistakes“, and “Sing“. “Sing” was one of my favorites. And I just found out fairly recently that this song was so popular that The Carpenters actually covered this. The Year of Roosevelt Franklin also has some great songs. “Roosevelt Franklin Counts“, “Just Because“, and “Mobity Mosely’s Months“. OK, I’m going to be 45 next month, and I’m over here jammin’ out to some Roosevelt Franklin! I don’t know anything about children’s programming these days, but I seriously doubt there is any that has music as good as this! These albums are going in to the crate!
And, one more thing related to this period that is going in the crate is the first toys I remember having – Sesame Street finger puppets.
The Early Years: 1974-1976
A great part of many kids’ childhoods were Saturday mornings. The earliest cartoon I remember watching was The Jackson 5ive. Not long after that, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids took over as my favorite cartoon…until I discovered Superfriends. Some other cartoons I remember from this time were Scooby Doo (until that dratted Scrappy Doo came along), Speedy Buggy, Josie and the Pussycats, and all the other Hanna-Barbera cartoons. They weren’t all cartoons on Saturday mornings, though. I loved all the Sid and Marty Krofft shows. I always hear about H.R. Pufnstuf, but I have never seen that one. My favorites were Land of the Lost, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Far Out Space Nuts (Gilligan in Space), The Lost Saucer (Gomer Pyle in space), and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (starring a pre-Marlena Deidre Hall). I also loved the Star Trek animated series.
It was during this time period that I began watching the original Star Trek with my dad. I loved fire trucks, so I loved Emergency!, which is always on the Me channel these days. Of course, that went hand-in-hand with Adam-12. Another favorite show of mine was The Six Million Dollar Man. It was also during this period when The Muppet Show began. So, I graduated from Sesame Street to The Muppet Show.
I didn’t just sit around and watch TV. It was during this time that I learned how to read. I learned with Fun With Phonics. There were books, and records that went with them. The soothing voice of the lady on the record would talk me through the books. By the time I reached kindergarten, I was reading books.
OK, that’s enough yapping. Time to throw some stuff in my crate.
I used to love my Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids action figures.
Some other action figures I had that can go in the crate are my Star Trek action figures, Six Million Dollar Man action figures, and the original G.I. Joe.
I also had Scooby Doo Colorforms:
I failed to mention how big Fisher Price items were in the ’70s. I had a ton of Fisher Price toys. My favorite was probably the garage. You put the car in the elevator, and when it reaches the top, it rides down the ramp.
I cannot find a picture of the Fun With Phonics set I had. But, I would include that in the crate. I will also throw in my first two books: Silly Billy and The Birthday Party
The Early Years: 1977-1979
1977 was a transitional year for me. In May of that year, we moved from our apartment in Providence to a house in Warwick. I finished up my last month of 1st grade with my parents driving me to school. Previously, I had walked to school.
I made new friends and went to a new school in the fall. 1977 is a very important year for people of our generation. It was the year Star Wars came out. Star Wars actually made it easier for me to make new friends. We all had an instant connection, talking all about Star Wars, and what happened in the movie – before any of us had actually seen the movie. I still don’t know how we were able to do that, but we did. In those days before the internet, word of mouth was literally word of mouth. Not only was the movie incredible, but the merchandising was a dream come true for kids our age. Action figures came into prominence. I also got all kinds of Star Wars books, and had a Star Wars lunch box. Star Wars also created a seismic shift in entertainment. There were many space shows and movies that were created. There was Space 1999, Battlestar Galactica, and even Star Trek made a comeback, as a result of the success of Star Wars.
People of our generation are now making movies and television shows, and I think it’s pretty obvious. Not only is Star Wars returning to the big screen this year, but Star Trek has made a comeback, and the super hero movement is stronger than ever. There was a lot of super hero shows and movies in the late ’70s. I remember watching Spiderman, Captain America, and a show I loved – The Incredible Hulk. And of course, Superman was a huge success.
Now, let’s put some stuff in the crate.
Duh. How about some Star Wars action figures!?
May as well include my old lunch box too.
I also had this Star Wars book…
I would also like to include my Incredible Hulk trading cards
The late ’70s was also the beginning of the video game movement. We will really delve into this next time. But, in the late ’70s, I remember playing pong a lot. I’m not into video games at all anymore. But, if I had a Pong system in front of me, I could play this thing for hours!
One thing I never owned, but wanted, was the Evel Knievel Stunt Set. So, we’ll throw this in the crate.
The late ’70s was also a time when I learned how to ride a bike. My bike was ok. But, I would have much preferred a Huffy. So, I’ll throw a Huffy in my crate.
Well, that will wrap things up for now. I will continue this series next week. And don’t forget, be sure to visit Man Crates in the following places:
Before electronic games and video games became the rage, and way before adults and children became addicted to games on their phones and iPads, board games were popular activities for families. At the dawn of the electronic age, it must have been nerve-wracking to be working for a marble making company. Marbles played a major role in several games in the ’70s and ’80s, including KerPlunk, Mouse Trap, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and the game we will talk about here – Stay Alive.
Stay Alive was a Milton Bradley board game. It could be played by 2-4 players. The board was made up of sliders that could move forward and backward over a 7 by 7 grid. Each player would take turns placing a marble somewhere on the board. Then the fun begins! Each player would then move a slide. Then either a marble (or marbles) would fall in the pit underneath the board, or the marble would stay on the board. The player with the last marble staying alive was the winner.
I do remember owning this game. But, my strongest memory about the game was this classic commercial featuring Vincent Price. I do think that this commercial is from the late ’70s, but any of us who are in our 40s will remember this:
I thought that the commercial was appropriate for Halloween-time. Does anybody else remember this game? Did you have any other favorite board games?
Is everybody enjoying the summer so far? This warm weather puts me in the mood for a nice sno-cone. And if I’m going to have a sno-cone, I may as well do it in style, and have a Snoopy Sno-Cone!! I do remember the Snoopy Sno-Cones, but I don’t think I ever had one. I must have had friends that had one.
You would mix flavored powder into water to create a little fruit punch. Then you would lift Snoopy up off of the house/sno-cone machine, which would reveal an ice cube size chute. You would drop an ice cube down the chute, and push Snoopy back on the chute while turning a handle wich would crush the ice.
Then you put the shaved ice into a tiny paper cup – and I stress the word Paper. Then you would pour the fruit punch mixture on the ice to make your flavored sno-cone. Then you would need to hurry up and slurp it down before the ice melted and started dripping through the paper cup.
Ah, screw it! I’m from Rhode Island – home of Del’s Lemonade, the world’s greatest frozen lemonade. I’ll save myself some time, aggravation, and cleanup, and have myself a Del’s. Now the Snoopy Sno-Cone machine will collect dust.
Did any of you ever have a Snoopy Sno-Cone machine? Did you like it?
Ah, the Easy Bake Oven. A nice safe alternative for kids to bake without getting hurt or burning the house down. Amateurs!! In 1973, two housewives, Betty Morris and Kate Bloomberg, invented Shrinky Dinks as a Cub Scout project with their sons. Now, kids could go back in the kitchen and gather around the real oven!
Shrinky Dinks hit the height of their popularity in the ’80s. They came in plastic sheets that could be colored on with felt-tip pens, acrylic paint, or colored pencils. There were normally popular characters on the sheets that kids could color in. They could then be cut out, placed on a cookie sheet, and put in the oven for a few minutes. The plastic would curl up and shrink to about 5/8 of it’s original size and become thicker. The characters could then be used as toys, jewelry, key chains, ornaments, or game pieces.
This was usually a good rainy day activity. And I’m sure that the plastic or ink did not give off any toxic chemicals in the oven. At least I don’t think it changed the taste of the meatloaf that was cooked in the oven afterward. All these years later, I’m not suffering any dain bramage. Here are some commercials that you may remember. For some reason, I don’t remember any of these:
It’s that wonderful time of year again – the unofficial start of summer. And with that, comes memories of summer fun we experienced when we were younger. Some friends of mine had pools. But, for those of us who did not have the money or the space for a pool, we had to improvise. We could run through a sprinkler. That could cool you off for a bit, but could get boring after a while. But in the late ’70s/early ’80s, Wham-O made things interesting. They came out with the Fun Fountain. The Fun Fountain was a sprinkler with a twist. You would attach the clown head to the hose, put the hat on top of the clown’s head, and turn on the water as high as it can go. The water would come out of the top of the clown’s head, lifting the hat up in the air, with water spraying out the sides of the top of the hat.
One game you could play was to go into the sprinkler, and try to catch the hat on your head when it came falling down. Oh by the way, the hat was hard heavy plastic. So, if you didn’t catch it right, you would get bonked on the head, and have a nice lump. It was fun though! I’m not sure if these are still sold in stores or not. But, I am sure that kids these days would need to wear helmets and knee and elbow pads if they were to use this.
This commercial might bring back memories:
Man, we must have had crappy water pressure, because I don’t remember the hat shooting that far in the air!
So did any of you have the Fun Fountain? Do you have any good stories, or permanent injuries, from the Fun Fountain?
Ahh, Remember the days when there would be a craze about something that wasn’t electronic? The Rubik’s Cube, an iconic symbol of the ’80s turns 40 today. The Rubik’s Cube had six sides, with each side covered with nine stickers. The colors were white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow. You would twist and turn all the rows until the colors were scattered all over the place. In order to solve the puzzle, you had to get each side all the same color.
Without cheating, I could usually get 2 sides. But, that was about it. I think I got 3 sides once by accident. But the easiest way to get all the colors to match would be to peel the stickers off, then stick them back on where you wanted them to be.
However, you could tell that the person cheated because you could see the stickers bent up a little. Here is how I could solve the puzzle:
Yes, you could pull the blocks apart, and then piece them back together. The downside to that was that the blocks would be a little loose after you did that, and they would wiggle a little. But, you could show your friends that you solved the puzzle, and not let them touch it.
In 1982, there was a World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. There were pavilions that represented each country (similar to the World Showcase at Disney’s Epcot). The inventor of the Rubik’s cube was Erno Rubik, who was from Hungary. Outside the Hungarian pavilion was this giant Rubik’s Cube that turned by itself:
The craze was huge in the early to mid 80’s. Everybody had one. If they didn’t have the actual cube, they had the keychain version. And there are also many kinds of competions on who can slove it the fastest. Here are some other different competitions:
– Blindfolded solving
– Solving the Cube with one person blindfolded and the other person saying what moves to do, known as “Team Blindfold”
– Solving the Cube underwater in a single breath
– Solving the Cube using a single hand
– Solving the Cube with one’s feet
There was also the spinoff Rubik’s Snake:
If you get a Rubik’s Cube nowadays, there probably wouldn’t be a challenge in solving it. All you would need to do is look online, and get the steps there. I guess that beats peeling the stickers off.