“The Toys that Made Us” – A Nostalgic Netflix Documentary

Image Courtesy Of Netflix “The Toys that Made Us”

Oh, Netflix, as if we didn’t love you enough already. Netflix seems to be riding the nostalgia train and adding as many cars to the track as possible. The popularity of Fuller House, a Full House spin-off, and Stranger Things, a sci-fi drama set in the 1980s, must have the streaming service thinking about how to bring back more favorites from those eras. Earlier this year, Netflix announced plans for a new documentary series called, “The Toys that Made Us” (MoviePilot.com). As you can gather from the title of the series, it’s all about different and popular toys from the 80s. And, we finally have a release date for the series! It will debut on Netflix on December 22 and season one will include eight episodes. The anticipation is killing me!

So, what can you expect from the documentary series? According to the series’ Facebook Page, which I highly recommend following, the first season will feature a different line of toys for each episode. In January, the official Facebook Page also posted a photo of the production office with eight cards on a bulletin board with what we can assume will be the toys featured in season one. The cards read:

  • Star Wars
  • G.I. Joe
  • Transformers
  • Barbie
  • He-Man and Masters of the Universe
  • Star Trek
  • LEGO
  • Hello Kitty

The Facebook Page did note that planning was still in-progress so we will just have to wait and see when the documentary is available if any changes were made. Each episode will chronicle the featured toy from its inception through present day. It will showcase toy designers, actors from related television shows and movies, toy company professionals and maybe even some serious collectors. I can honestly say that although I played with most of these as a kid, I am not familiar with their history, so that will be an eye-opener for me. They even interviewed a woman who worked for Mattel for ten years as Director of Worldwide Marketing for fashion dolls and Barbie and a gentleman who is currently employed by Mattel as an accomplished toy designer. How is that even a real job?! #jealous

What’s really cool about the creators of this Netflix documentary series is that they have had a lot of interaction with people, like us, who grew up with these toys. On their Facebook Page, they encourage folks to post photos of their toy collections from this era and the pictures shared are unbelievable. One photo featured a collectables shop with Teddy Ruxpin, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe and Star Wars in one small area. Talk about an 80s kid’s dream! There were many comments from followers asking about certain toys and if they would be featured. Most of the time, the response from those involved with the series was, “maybe season two?” Hopefully, if enough people tune in to the series, more of our beloved toys will be shown in all their glory during future episodes!

While researching the show, it got me thinking about what toys made me… What consumed my days as a youngster? What influences did they have on me? Here’s what I came up with…

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Few memories of my first five years of life don’t involve Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I grew up with one brother and three neighbors that were all boys. We LIVED for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We watched the cartoons, owned all the action figures (thanks to our parents raiding every toy store until we got them), saw the movie and played the video games. When we weren’t doing that, we were pretending to be characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Luckily, each of the four boys had a favorite Ninja Turtle. Unlucky for me, as the youngest of all of them, that left me without a turtle. #sadday I had two choices if I wanted to play with the group – I could be April or Splinter. I usually chose April. TMNT had a cast of characters that any kid could relate to. There was an array of personalities to identify with and they actually used terms and phrases from the 80s. What we always loved about them is that they acted as a team. They knew that they were stronger as a unit than by themselves. I am happy to report that my brother, three neighbor boys and I are still very close today, carrying on the TMNT tradition. #cowabungadudes

SKIP IT

I know kids today struggle with playing outside due to the amount of technology at their fingertips, however, in the 80s and 90s, children actually WANTED to play outside and we needed toys that could facilitate that. One such toy was the Skip It. This toy was put around one ankle and circulated around the other leg causing the user to jump over it. Every young girl I knew had one of these. We would Skip It until we couldn’t stand anymore, often times holding neighborhood competitions to see who could go the longest without getting tripped up. The Skip It included a handy counter to know how many jumps you got. I am convinced today that it was just a tricky way to get kids to exercise, but at the time, I couldn’t stop skipping.

NINTENDO 64

The Nintendo 64 gaming system is still my favorite system of all time. I can still remember seeing the controller for the first time and feeling a level of anxiety and excitement. It looked like nothing we had ever seen before. A joystick? What were all these buttons for? Ask any adult what their favorite N64 game is and I bet you’ll get a variety of different answers. That is because there were so many awesome games for the system. Wave Race 64, Super Mario, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, GoldenEye 007, Madden NFL 99, Super Smash Brothers and my personal favorite, Mario Kart. The best part about this system was that it actually made playing a video game more of a social experience. It gathered all your friends and family around the television and allowed you to truly play together, at the same time. Well after other, more advanced, gaming systems had been created, my friends and I still chose to play N64. It has definitely stood the test of time.

BEANIE BABIES

Has anything in your life been a bigger disappointment? Ty put all of us in a frenzy with these adorable, bean-filled stuffed animals. I first heard of Beanie Babies from a friend of my mother’s. She mentioned that if my dad and I visited a toy store she worked at on a certain day and time that she would put aside five of them for us to purchase. Before we really understood what kind of a phenomenon these toys were, we headed to the toy store, as instructed, to pick up my very first Beanie Babies. Imagine our surprise when we arrived and the toy store was packed with adults, screaming and pushing their way to the register to obtain a number to be assisted with their Beanie Babies purchase. Apparently, there was an extra special Beanie Baby available that day, but they only had 50 of them and each person could only buy one. We walked to the register to pick up the five Beanies being held for me and as we were completing our transaction, we heard a woman yelling at an employee. Apparently, she had number 48, but was not able to purchase the special Beanie because the store was sold out. We thought she was completely bonkers and quickly left the store. On the way out, I looked in the bag to see what Beanie Babies I got and what do I see? The highly sought-after Peace Bear. The Beanie that everyone, including the screaming lady, was after. Seeing as we had just pulled one over on every customer in line that day, we made a run for it. It was that experience, though, that taught me just how valuable these toys could be. After that, I kept certain Beanies in plastic cases and some had tag covers on them to keep them in pristine condition. I bought books about Beanie Babies and their value in hopes that one day I could sell them all for a small fortune. Well, as you know, that day never came. But, I still have all those Beanie Babies in storage and they have brought a lot of joy to my younger cousins who often ask to play with them. Maybe in 30 years, they’ll actually be worth something. #dontmakemelaugh

TAMAGOTCHI

I have never worked harder to obtain a toy in my life. As soon as I heard about these digital pets, I started cleaning the basement, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn and doing anything I could around the house to earn extra money. From the day they were released, I had my parents shuttle me around to every toy and department store I could think of to try and find the elusive Tamagotchi. Each time, I left without one. Then, I began calling around to different stores, multiple times a day, just to ask if they got a shipment in. Each time, they said no. Then, one day when my hopes were beginning to diminish, I called a Toys ‘R Us near my grandma’s house. They had just gotten a shipment of Tamagotchis in! #ohappyday They weren’t able to hold it for me, so I had to quickly grab my father and race in the car to the store. By the time we got there, only a few were left so I didn’t get my desired color egg, but I didn’t care. I had gotten a Tamagotchi! I carried that little silver and black egg with me everywhere. Cleaning up its poop, feeding it, playing with it and loving it. That was when I learned that anything worth having in life, is worth working for. Flash forward to today, about 20 years later, and I am still struggling to find the anniversary edition of a Tamagotchi. Some things never change.

I hope you’ll tune in to Netflix’s documentary, “The Toys that Made Us” on December 22. Send me a note if you watch and let me know what you think. Do you have a list of toys that made you? What would you recommend them featuring in season two? Drop a comment below or follow Miss Reminisce on social media to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

The Toys That Made Us - New Netflix Documentary

6 comments

  1. I’m a little bit before this era (grew up in the 70s/80s), but still remember many of these toys fondly, and my daughter grew up in the 90s so she definitely had some of those things you mentioned (I remember having to feel the Tamogatchi while she was at school!) I will check this documentary out for sure. I have a whole Pinterest “I Remember This” board, and it does have some toys on it 🙂

  2. OMG – hopefully this is the beginning of more of these types of series yet to come. What about Strawberry Shortcake dolls and Smurfs. I”m definitely following the FB page, my son will get a kick out of all these. I hadn’t heard about this series, thanks for giving us the low down.

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