9 totally tubular things millennials missed out on from the 1980s
From wicked awesome slang to the singular radness of the Walkman, these are the bodacious '80s gems that defined a generation.
Conjure an image of someone from the 1980s in your head, and big hair, ripped jeans and funky colored accessories likely come to mind. On the radio? Perhaps a Bangles tune, something from Culture Club, or maybe that new song from some artist who calls herself Madonna. In addition to the music and fashion, the decade also represented a shift in both culture and technology that helped craft the world we enjoy today.
Below are just a few unique highlights of the '80s that we fondly remember and that future generations will look upon in wonder.
Games without screens
Before video games came to dominate screens both big and small, board games ruled the kitchen tables and family rooms of '80s households. The decade brought us such timeless classics as "Guess Who?" from Israeli game board designer Theora Design, Fireball Island from American company Milton Bradley, and the addicting Rubik's cube from Hungarian sculptor Ernő Rubik. While these games still hold some sway when it comes to family entertainment, their importance during rainy days and boring family trips has eroded with the rise of more digital distractions.
Eclectic sci-fi and fantasy movies
We're not saying today's sci-fi and fantasy isn't pretty great, but there's a reason so many directors are looking to recapture the magic of the genre during the 1980s. The eclectic mix of films, from alien invasions to dark fairy tales, was simply incredible. Even more impressive is that all of these films were made during the Golden Age of practical special effects, only a few short years before CGI would crash the scene. Examples include the fantasy adventure "Legend," from British director Ridley Scott and Arnon Milchan, a prolific Israeli producer. Others include the British space opera "Flash Gordon," "The Last Starfighter," "Howard the Duck" and "Dune."
The rise of portable audio
Before Japanese electronics giant Sony released its Walkman audio cassette player, listening to music was not considered the private, headphones-required affair it is today. That all changed in 1980 when the first Walkman hit the street, forever changing the way people listened to albums on the go. The proliferation of these devices also led to the rise of the mix tape, which, while not as easy to make as today's Spotify playlists, were definitely a lot more satisfying. It's no surprise why so many children of the '80s love that Peter Quill's mix tape from "Guardians of the Galaxy" comes straight out of 1988.
The fashion trends
Has there ever been a more attention-grabbing decade? From wacky watch designs from Swiss company Swatch to acid-washed jeans from American clothing company Guess, everything was bright, bold and big. Popped collars? Yup. Oversized earrings? Necessary. Fanny Packs? Wouldn't be caught outside the home without one. Top it all off with some leg warmers, a track suit or three, some giant hair and a headband, and you were ready to hit the mall in style.
To match its outrageous fashion sense, the '80s had the most ridiculous, but perfectly acceptable, slang words. Exclamations like "Bodacious!" "Rad!" "Schweet!" and "Sick!" were all commonly heard in hallways, playgrounds and clubs. Insults of the day included "dweeb," "hoser," "poser," and our personal favorite "wastoid."
From American Dee Snider of Twisted Sister to Israeli Gene Simmons of KISS, some of the most successful rock bands of the '80s were big on makeup and huge hair. The decade also marked the commercial success of the synthesizer, with electronic sounds heavily used by bands such as the U.K.'s Duran Duran and Human League.
World Wrestling Federation
Professional wrestling during the '80s was absolutely huge, with characters such as Hulk Hogan, André the Giant, the Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man Randy Savage making appearances on everything from lunch boxes to t-shirts. Interest hit record highs in 1987-1988 when 93,000 people attended WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome and more than 33 million tuned into watch WWF champion Hulk Hogan take on André the Giant. The scene also attracted the participation of the decade's celebs, including rocker Alice Cooper, artist Andy Warhol, and even '80s cult TV star Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
Insane everything-themed cereal
Millennials of today would likely walk down an '80s cereal aisle in shocked awe. With very little regard given to "healthy options," cereals back then were all about sugar, marshmallows, awesome prizes and more sugar. It was also common for every single cartoon and/or hit movie to have its own cereal tie-in. There was cereal for "Ghostbusters," "Rainbow Brite," "Pac-Man" (with SUPER PAC-MAN marshmallows!), "E.T," "Gremlins," "Mr. T" and even, ugh, "Dunkin' Donuts Cereal." Our favorite, however, was the "Nintendo Cereal System," which featured two different sugary cereals in one box to represent Mario Bros. and Zelda. How anyone alive then managed to make it to subsequent decades with all of our teeth remains something of a mystery.
The golden age of action figures
With the success of "Star Wars" toys in the late 1970s came the rise of a whole slew of action figures and playsets that kids wanted. The '80s gave us such greats as "He-Man," "She-Ra," "Transformers" (made from actual die-cast metal!), "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and the awesome "Thundercats." The playsets were absolutely massive, with Masters of the Universe's "Eternia" and G.I. Joe's 7-foot 6-inch aircraft carrier the dream toy of nearly every kid.
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