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Garbage Pail Kids are back
And many other 'retro toys' too, including Strawberry Shortcake, classic yo-yos, and Atari.
August 1, 2003: 9:52 AM EDT
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Toy makers are keen on bringing the 80s back to life in their Christmas arsenal this year -- recruiting the likes of Strawberry Shortcake, Atari video games, and My Little Pony.

"I feel like I'm in a time warp, stuck in the mid-80s," said Jim Silver, publisher of industry monthly Toy Book. "In 1983, the toys that were hot were Creepy Crawlers, the Strawberry Shortcake doll, Care Bears, the yo-yos. On the back cover of our magazine we had Spiderman and the Hulk. What was old is new again."

Toy consultant Chris Byrne thinks that many more toymakers are falling back on the golden oldies as a quick-fix to their sagging numbers.

"Toymakers are bringing back proven hits because it's less risky than betting on something new," said Byrne.

Here are just some of the retro-toys they're betting on.

Garbage Pail Kids. Remember the gross-out Garbage Pail Kids sticker fad from way back?

Harry Potty spoof sticker from the new Garbage Pail Kids Collection, priced at 99 cents for a pack of 4 stickers, including 4 sticks of gum. (Courtesy: Topps Company)  
Harry Potty spoof sticker from the new Garbage Pail Kids Collection, priced at 99 cents for a pack of 4 stickers, including 4 sticks of gum. (Courtesy: Topps Company)

Kids loved them because they showed funny characters engaged in all kinds of bodily functions. Plenty of adults became fans of the stickers, which soon developed a cult following.

Now New York-based Topps Co. (TOPP: Research, Estimates), also the distributor of Pokemon cards and stickers, in August will re-release the hugely popular stickers after nearly 15 years.

The original cards debuted in 1985 but lasted only three years, after selling millions of cards and stickers, according to Clay Luraschi, spokesman with Topps.

"We ran 15 different series of the Garbage Pail Kids in those three years, which is a lot," said Luraschi.

The new stickers have been updated, and include a spoof showing "Harry Potty" holding a toilet plunger while sitting on the potty.

Strawberry Shortcake. A famous redhead from the 80's -- the Strawberry Shortcake Doll -- got a second lease on life this year when Cleveland-based American Greetings (AM: Research, Estimates) and its master toy licensee Bandai Co. decided to bring back the first-ever scented doll. It had been retired in 1985.

The new Strawberry Shortcake Pretty in plaid doll is priced at $8.99. (Courtesy: Bandai America)  
The new Strawberry Shortcake Pretty in plaid doll is priced at $8.99. (Courtesy: Bandai America)

The spunky doll was a huge moneymaker, generating sales of more than $100 million in 1980, its first year. In its five-year life, it did $1.2 billion in sales, including accessories. .

Now Bandai is hoping the new collection of scented five-inch dolls, mini-dolls and accessories turn into a phenomenon all over again.

"An American Greetings market survey found that about 80 percent of women between 18 and 35 recognized the brand. These are women with kids, women who maybe had the doll themselves and now want to share it with their daughters," said Holli Hoffman, marketing manager with Bandai America.

My Little Pony. Hasbro is anticipating a joy ride of profitability all over again with its My Little Pony collection.

Little girls couldn't get enough of the miniature pony dolls that debuted back in 1983, and it became a multimillion-dollar product for the toymaker that also spawned a television show and other licensed merchandise.

Hasbro's new My Little Pony Rainbow Celebration collection, priced at about $4.99.each. (Courtesy: Hasbro)  
Hasbro's new My Little Pony Rainbow Celebration collection, priced at about $4.99.each. (Courtesy: Hasbro)

But the ponies were discontinued in 1992 after demand began to wilt.

"This was one of the first products that gave girls a fantasy-like doll to play with," said Audrey Desimone, spokeswoman for Hasbro. "We can't predict the demand the second time around, but we feel the market is ripe for it again."

Hasbro is introducing 12 ponies as part of its 2003 collection.

Yo-Yos. Middlefield, Ohio-based Duncan Toys Company has revived its original Sportsline brand of yo-yos after nearly 40 years.

The Duncan Sportsline Yo-Yo line includes the baseball, basketball, soccer ball, football, tennis ball, and golf ball. They're priced at $3.99 each. (Courtesy: Duncan Toys)  
The Duncan Sportsline Yo-Yo line includes the baseball, basketball, soccer ball, football, tennis ball, and golf ball. They're priced at $3.99 each. (Courtesy: Duncan Toys)

The novelty yo-yos are shaped like sports balls and they include the baseball, basketball, soccer ball, football, tennis ball, and golf ball models.

"We thought it's time to give these toys a second shot," said Steve Brown, marketing and promotions director with Duncan Toys."They came out in 1965 and lived just one year because the company went bankrupt in 1966. But they were hugely successful even in that one year."

Brown declined to say how much money the Sportsline model made in its initial short-lived stint.

Atari. For its part, Jakks Pacific (JAKK: Research, Estimates) is making video games go retro. It released the Atari10-in-1 TV games, a plug and play 8-bit gaming system with 10 classic Atari videogames with a replica of the original Atari 2600 joystick.

Jakks Pacific Atari 10-in-1 TV game sells for $19.99. The Namco TV games are priced at $24.99. (Courtesy: Jakks Pacific)  
Jakks Pacific Atari 10-in-1 TV game sells for $19.99. The Namco TV games are priced at $24.99. (Courtesy: Jakks Pacific)

Additionally, Malibu, Calif.-based Jakks in October will release a limited edition of Namco TV games, a unit that lets users play classic arcade games, including Pac-Man, Rally-X and Galaxian.

"We saw a groundswell for nostalgic toys and we acted on it. But we're seeing particularly strong demand for classic video games, " said Genna Goldberg, spokeswoman for Jakks Pacific.  Top of page




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