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Old Toys That Have Made a Comeback

What goes around comes around. Pop culture trends never seem to go away forever, no matter how ridiculous your old bell-bottoms looked. Toys are no different. With all the reboots of classic movies and TV shows, it’s no wonder that many of the old toys that kids loved in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s are regaining popularity. Here are some old toys that have made a recent comeback.

Classic video games

Overflowing pile of classic Nintendo game cartridges from the 90s
Credit: robtek / Shutterstock

Classic video games are called "classic" for a reason. They were so good that even in their pixelated form, they’re still fun to play even by today’s high standards. However, the complexity of modern games also leaves some people frustrated and wanting a return to the basics.

Recently, some game manufacturers have released modernized versions of their classic consoles, which has been a big hit for people wanting to relive their childhoods. Nintendo re-released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in a more compact (and reliable) package. It looks just like the old system with the same controls but is smaller and has several games preloaded. Even the website looks retro.

Other companies are following this trend as well. SEGA has released a Genesis Mini, which features HDMI hookup for the best 16-bit graphics that technology can produce. In December 2018, Sony released the PlayStation Classic, a reboot of the first-ever PlayStation from the '90s. Even Atari has made a return to the gaming industry with Atari Flashback, complete with retro paddles.

Teddy Ruxpin

Teddy Ruxpin was a smash hit in the '80s because of its high-tech ability to speak and tell stories. If you wanted more stories, just pop a new tape into the built-in tape deck. The toy was so popular that it even spawned a cartoon TV series and a live- action movie.

But despite all his success, Ruxpin couldn’t stand the test of time. The company that made him went bankrupt in 1987, and it seemed like Teddy Ruxpin had told his last story. But no trend dies forever.

In 2017, Teddy Ruxpin made his triumphant return to the shelves with a new, updated model. He now has LCD eyes that can look around, blink, and display hearts and stars; his mouth syncs to his speech to make him more lifelike; and he features Bluetooth connectivity so you can sync the bear with the compatible mobile app. His memory has been upgraded as well. He comes preloaded with 45 minutes of content with much more available for download online.

Transformers

Optimus Prime statue at the entrance of the Transformers 3D ride, Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida
Credit: Mia2you / Shutterstock

The iconic robots in disguise made their TV debut in 1984 and became an instant favorite for kids all across America. There were action figures, T-shirts, lunch boxes, and just about any other form of merchandise that exists. They remained a constant fixture in pop culture through the '90s but eventually fizzled out before the new millennium rolled around.

The Autobots made their return to the big screen with the 2007 live-action movie and seven (yes, seven) sequels and spinoffs, which spawned a slew of new merchandise and new fans. Products ranging from simple preschool toys to more advanced, technical transforming action figures have returned to toy-store shelves all over the world.

Strawberry Shortcake

The beloved strawberry-scented doll started as a character on greeting cards but grew into much, much more. The toy developer responsible for making "Star Wars" products wanted another toy line that appealed to a female demographic. Liking the sketches from the greeting cards, they hired the artist and began making every product imaginable. Strawberry Shortcake went from appearing on greeting cards to dolls, comics, TV shows, and movies, effectively taking over the entire '80s girls' toy market.

Popularity fizzled out by the end of the decade. In 1991, a reboot of the dolls was attempted, but kids weren’t too fond of the updates. In 2002, Strawberry Shortcake was acquired by Iconix Brand Group, which attempted yet another reboot of the franchise. This time, it worked. From 2002 to 2017, product sales generated more than $4 billion, helping to spawn a new era in the Strawberry Shortcake world with no signs of stopping. New toys, TV shows, movies, and books are being produced every year.

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