There was a time when another cute stuffed animal seemed to surface every other weeks to us children growing up in the 80s. Many of them were quite interactive too. They did things like talk, play music, became puppets, were unusually cuddly, unique, or just adorably cute. I would like to share with you and reminisce about some of my favorite 80s stuffed animals.
If you grew up in the 80s, who wouldn’t remember this interactive teddy bear? He really was the first of his kind. He spurned the popularity of multiple other dolls and animals that not only talked, but told stories. There were other dolls and animals that talked, but not to the extent of Teddy Ruxpin. He became the first of mass animatronic dolls for children. He was so entertaining too. He captivated children, not simply giving a cute grunt or word or two. Ruxpin was educational. Children learned things from him. There were also books and even a television series about him. There were many talking dolls and animals that came after him, but none in my opinion were quite as good. (I even remember getting an animatronic parrot one year for Christmas that would repeat everything you said to it. But that is all it did.) In recent days, Teddy Ruxpin has made a comeback to reach the current generation; but it is a far cry from the original. He looks quite different and much more cheaply made. The original Ruxpin can still be found on online auction sites, but be prepared to spend big money for most of them.
These cute plush doggies were all the craze in my elementary schooldays. I particularly remember an onslaught of them filling my friends’ backpacks at school when I was in second grade. I had a brown one with black spots. There were many different kinds, and children seemed to be obsessed with collecting them. Later they started making several different sizes from tiny pound poochies to huge pound puppy dogs. One day, a girl brought the biggest brown and white Pound Puppy I had ever seen. Everyone in the class wanted to play with it. Of course, it was so big it seemed like three of us could play with it at once. Over time I did collect a few more. Different kinds of dogs were made too, from long-eared hounds to short-eared pug-nosed pooches. Later, they even made kitty versions of them called Pound Purries. There was also an animated Saturday morning cartoon about the Pound Puppies. I watched it often, and then got the idea to put doll clothes on mine.
These cuddly teddies were quite the rage when they were introduced, but they first appeared in greeting cards. Like Strawberry Shortcake and several other character dolls, they first appeared in cards as characters and later made into dolls and animals for children. They were highly collectible too–like the Pound Puppies. There were various kinds of them with lots of colors. And each one had his/ her own name and picture on the tummy that represented their personality. There was Tender Heart bear–probably the most popular–who had a heart on his tummy; but there was also Funshine Bear, Good Luck Bear, Cheer Bear, Grumpy Bear, Harmony Bear, Wish Bear, Bedtime Bear, etc. Later came a line of other animals called the Care Bear Cousins, such as Brave Heart Lion, Bright Heart Raccoon, and Swift Heart Rabbit. In 1985 a movie was created called The Care Bears Movie. It was also popular among children and presented the battle of good and evil. The love in the hearts of these Care Bears and Cousins together overcome the powers of darkness.
This popular guy was also quite popular too with children. I remember having this doll too. Could a worm actually be made to look cute and appealing to children? Well, he was. A similar thought was pondered back in 1940 when Disney created his animated film Pinocchio. They asked themselves the question: How can we make a cricket cute? Jiminy Cricket was successful. In a similar way, Glow Worm was also successful because the inventors were able to make him appear very cute. But he was also appealing to children because, as the name suggests, he glowed. He was an animal a child could carry around in the dark. We children liked him so much that we wore the battery out and had to replace it multiple times, I believe. I really believe that this doll has been instrumental in helping young children cope with their fear of the dark. This was definitely the selling point in my opinion. Children find comfort in their little snuggly friends, such as a teddy bear or doll, but this guy glowed, going further than most dolls or animals could while lying in bed in the dark; and that is where a lot of the comfort of this doll came.
This animal doll was one of my favorites, and one I really wanted as a child. It was the perfect blending of a cute animal and some almost human qualities. The dogs sat up in a human-like posture and came with clothes. You could even buy various sets of clothes and change the outfits of these doggy dolls. But what really made them interactive was that they were puppets as well. Wow! What a bonus! A cuddly doll that has changeable clothes–and it is also a puppet. What a great idea! And there were girl ones and boy ones dressed accordingly to appeal to both boys and girls. Each had their own leather tag with a number (like a dog license tag). This was a collector’s dream. Each had their own individual number, and no two were alike. I particularly liked the side pocket with a bone in it. Mine was a brown Wrinkles with denim overalls. How novel to see those puppets with tongues wagging and heads bobbing while performing a puppet show for the family!
More Animals to Come
So there you have it: a few popular stuffed animals from the 80s with bits and pieces about them. But there were more than just these. Keep watching for more of these in an upcoming post. There are some other favorites of mine I have yet to write about and plan to do so very soon. So, what do you think? Do you have a favorite stuffed toy? I’d love to hear about it. What was your favorite when you were growing up? Perhaps you are older and had children in the 80s. What was their favorite? Maybe you are younger and don’t remember the 80s. What is your impression of these stuffed animals? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.