I was perusing my Facebook stream and a post by Wishful Thinking 247 that featured a butterfly-shaped Lite-Brite got me thinking about how much toys have changed over the last few decades. Sure, all my old favorites are still around, but they’ve morphed into something completely different over the years. In some ways, I’m a little jealous of kids today, and in others I’m totally nostalgic for “the way things were.” Here is a look at a few childhood toys that I recall well, and how much they’ve changed (or in some cases, how little they’ve changed) over the last 25 years or so.

Barbie Then and Now

I think of all the toys, Barbie has received the biggest makeover throughout the decades that she’s been around. In the 80s, when I was playing with her, she had big hair, one little sister (Skipper), and only dated Ken. Her clothes were, of course, the height of fashion for that time, but still nothing I’d be caught dead in today.


1980s Barbie

Today, Barbie is still in the height of fashion, but she has more relatives, and last I heard, she and Ken were filing for a divorce. About time. She needs a man who can bend a little more, don’t you think?

New Barbie

Then there’s her Dream House. When I was little, I had the cardboard dealie, the kind that would have been taken out if a strong breeze from my dog’s tail hit just the right way. It was a little more upscale than this one, but I couldn’t find the exact picture. This one is from the 1970’s:



And this one is from 2011. I don’t think it’s made of cardboard anymore. For close to $150, I sure hope not!


Action Figures Then and Now

My little brother played with a lot of action figures, especially Transformers and Thundercats, both of which have made a major comeback in recent years. I used to make Barbie marry He-Man and various Thundercats, because quite frankly, she was getting sick of Ken way back then even!

The Transformers have definitely come a long way from this:


1980 Transformer

to this:

Transformer 2012

Although to be perfectly honest, they held together a lot better back in the 80s. I’ve stopped buying Jake Transformers because every single one we’ve bought broke within two days, and they require a degree in Engineering to transform.

The Thundercats, on the other hand, really don’t seem to have changed all that much. Sure, Lionel got slightly better hair and a more modern physique, but overall, I think they’re pretty similar. Here is a 1980’s version…


1980s Thundercats


…versus the newer ones: 2012 Thundercats

Games Then and Now

Since the Lite-Brite sparked this whole post, it’s only appropriate to show you what I’m talking about. In the 1980s, we had the bulky design, like this:



Now, even the Lite-Brite has gone flat-screen (at least it’s one flat screen I can afford!) Plus, they have a handy little storage thing under it. Did they have that when I was little? I don’t remember. I just remember losing half my pegs within an hour of opening the box.


And for the grand finale, it would take an entire post to go through the evolution of video game consoles from the time I was little through now. They’re constantly changing, and I’m still not even caught up because we don’t have a PS3. But I do remember the excitement on Christmas morning when my brother got this little beauty:

Super NES


I also remember the excitement of almost Christmas when we finally got this one:



I’m sure toys will continue to evolve in ways that I can’t even imagine, and 25 years from now Jake will be sitting down to think a post about how much they’ve changed (because by then, computers will be in our heads!). I still want to know though, where is my darn flying car?!?