Totally Tubular '80s Toys
by Mark Bellomo is a great time-warp back through the toys of our youth.
If you grew up in the late 70s / early 80s, you know what an incredible time it was for toys. With little competition from video games in the beginning, plus lifted restrictions on television advertising to children, toy lines flourished throughout the decade. In fact, many of today’s most popular toy lines found their roots in the 80s.
This grand hardcover book is broken down by year, each section highlighting a selection of toys from that time. Some context is given to each year, noting popular shows and music of the time. I found this to be very helpful as I associate events at that time by what I watched and listened to, rather than what political events happened. Nostalgia has a funny way of corrupting the actual order of events at the time, and this book does a good job of setting it straight.
Each page is in glossy full color. Some toy lines get one page only; other more influential lines get multi-page spreads.
The text is written at a very pedestrian level. What I mean by this is that if you collect any kind of toys from this era, you largely know all that is in there already. But for the non-collector, the text is informative and easy to understand. Each section reads like a magazine article overview rather than the OCD ramblings of a fan site.
While a wide range of toys are shown, the author’s bias is clear – he collected 80s boys toys and action figures. Girls toys are shown, but are in the minority, and few reach the obscure levels of forgotten 80s boys toys like “Centurions”. Also missing are other classic genres like games, sports toys (Nerf?), and building toys. At 256 pages and almost 3 pounds, the book is already jam-packed so I can forgive the omission.
Collectors looking for a be-all end-all encyclopedia should look elsewhere. This is a coffee-table book, pure and simple. It’s great to look at and reminisce for sure, but definitely not a definitive guide. Hardcore toy nerds will of course be able to pick out errors, like the mis-transformed Voltron.
Overall, a really solid effort though, and I would love to see the same treatment given to toys of each subsequent decade. The author, Mark Bellamo has also written guidebooks about Transformers and GI Joe and THOSE are the definitive guides. I’d love to see one of those types of guides get the deluxe treatment that this book got.
Totally Tubular '80s Toys
by Mark Bellomo is available NOW at Amazon.com and your favorite booksellers.