BOOK REVIEW: Totally Tubular '80s Toys
Mark Bellomo's latest takes fans on a trip down memory lane...
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When people over the age of 30 think of the 1980s, some of the first things that come to mind aren’t the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, or President Ronald Regan. The first things we think of are Transformers, G.I. Joe, Ghostbusters, Atari, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and many more of the wonderful, amazing and life-shaping toys that we grew up with…
Now, thanks to toy aficionado and author Mark Bellomo, those of us who grew up in the 1980s can remember our favorite action figures and games thanks to his latest book, Totally Tubular ‘80s Toys.
Where to start? Bellomo has done an amazing job with putting together an easy to follow and understand book rich with the history of the hobby from a decade filled with what many consider some of the most creative and richest products and licenses ever devised. Some of the most popular toy lines today were first introduced in the 1980s and have only now begun to receive the attention and love they truly deserved, which is something current collectors and fans may want to consider before writing this off as unworthy of their attention. In fact, if anything, this book gives fans today a great understanding of where our hobby has been and – possibly – where it’s going.
As previously mentioned, Bellomo does an impressive job of introducing readers to the content as well as providing readers with an easy to follow table of contents. Sorted by year, the decade that brought us everything from Strawberry Shortcake and E.T. to Robotech and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is dolefully delivered to us through interesting and insightful descriptions as well as beautiful images. The images of toys, games, and even advertising is clear and easy to see and Bellomo does a great job describing the history of each product as well as why it’s noteworthy.
To round off each year, an “Entertainment-O-Rama” page reminds readers of the most popular films, songs/albums, and TV shows as well as specific pop culture crazes or happenings at the time. (How could I have forgotten what really happened in E.T.?!? Thanks for the reminder, Mark!)
Overall, the book acts as a wonderful, encompassing directory and encyclopedia of sorts to the toy and game industry of the 1980s. While not all of fandom’s favorites are included (Where the heck is My Buddy or My Pet Monster?), Bellomo does a solid job of included most of the memorable toys from the decade.
A true trip down memory lane, Totally Tubular ‘80s Toys helped me remember playing with my G.I. Joe in the sandbox, sleeping with my Care Bear in the pillow fort, playing Simon Says in the car, and watering that nasty, gross Chia Pet we had growing in the kitchen. And how did I ever forget my friend's Teddy Ruxpin, the Pound Puppies my brother and I “adopted,” and all of those crazy Garbage Pail Kids stickers on our bunk beds? Ahhh, what it was like to be a child in the ‘80s…
Mark Bellomo’s Totally Tubular ‘80s Toys is available now at all fine booksellers.
- Jess C. Horlsey