Totally Tubular 80's Toys
By Mark Bellomo

Totally Tubular 80's Toys book by Mark Bellemo

Technically, I'm a child of the 60's, having been born in 1961. However, it's the late 60's and early 70's that I really consider my 'childhood', complete with G.I. Joe, Best of the West, Captain Action, Hot Wheels, and other classic toy lines. I still have some of my original toys today, and I have to say that I'm really glad I do - they bring back some wonderful memories.

When it comes to the toys of the 60's and 70's, there's been enough books written to fill an iPad. And that's a lot of books. But the 80's, the generation of many of the people reading these words, has had less, as you'd expect. It takes awhile to get nostalgic about a period and remember only the good, not the bad. The books that have been written around toys have dealt largely with specific lines - Barbie, G.I. Joe RAH, Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, etc.

Mark Bellomo has a new book out entitled "Totally Tubular 80's Toys", and in it he covers the broad range, rather than delving deeply into any one series. He goes outside basic toys as well, getting further into the wider pop culture scene that influenced his generation.

Mark is no stranger to authoring books on toys, having had books published on Joes, Transformers and more. His name might also be familiar to readers of this site, as he's a regular Poppies judge each year.

Totally Tubular 80's Toys book by Mark Bellomo
Totally Tubular 80's Toys book by Mark Bellomo
Totally Tubular 80's Toys book by Mark Bellomo
Totally Tubular 80's Toys book by Mark Bellomo
The book is split into sections, one for each year of the decade from 1980 to 1989. Yes, I know that technically a new decade starts with year 1, so that the start of the 199th decade was actually 1981, not 1980. But this book is not titled "Totally Tubular 199th Decade Toys", it's the 80's toys, so using the years 80-89 is correct. After you explain that to the smart ass who brings it up, feel free to pants him.

At the end of each section is a recap of the entertainment for that year - best movie winners, top ten box office, what we were listening to on the radio, top news stories, that sort of thing. It's a nice wrap up and delimiter between each year section.

The toys themselves are usually given a couple pages each, sometimes 4 or so for the bigger ones like Star Wars or G.I. Joe. What's nice about this book is that while the important lines are all covered - Transformers, Barbie, MOTU, etc. - there's lots and lots of only slightly less popular lines that adults today will remember quite fondly when they see the photos, but may have completely forgot about having as a child prior to the visual reminder.

And there's plenty of photos to jog those aging brain cells, all well shot and edited. The text is engaging and easy to read, and was clearly written by a man who loved this decade and the playthings that dominated it.

Not only are there the usual action figures and dolls, but electronic and board games like Simon or Trivial Pursuit, puzzles like Rubik's Cube, and even the early electronic gaming systems like Atari get their due.

Overall - ***1/2
Overall, the book was a very enjoyable read, and brought back to mind a number of toys that I had completely forgotten about. This isn't a book designed to be the be all/ end all on any one line or series. Instead, this is a book for those who grew up then and played with these wonderful toys, whether they are collectors or not. There's a little something for everyone, and the story of the playthings of that ear is told in an engaging way.

So if you pine for the days when men were He-men and Star Wars packages said Kenner, then this is just the book for you!

Where to Buy -
Your local bookstore may have it, or you can hit up Amazon where the regular edition is just $20, or the Kindle edition (which seems kind of odd to me, but what do I know) runs $16.50.

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Totally Tubular 80's Toys book by Mark Bellomo

This product was provided free for the review by the publisher. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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