Remember the good ol’ days before people staggered everywhere with a mobile phone glued to their face? Pepperidge Farm remembers! Of course, now we have multiple generations interested in culture from generations back, so it’s kind of a moot point. A young person interested in old-times nostalgia stuff is just what we call a “hipster.”
It turns out the Internet is great for preserving culture form the past. With each new generation, cultural artifacts from past generations just keep piling up, as accessible as anything made today. YouTube preserves old shows and music, Amazon preserves antiques and collectibles, and hundreds of blogs (don’t look now, but you’re reading one!) dig up history from a century ago and serve it up right beside today’s news.
Which explains why even the current crop we’re calling “Generation Z” is still familiar with the culture of Millennials, Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and even the Greatest Generation. If you have teenagers in school right now, visit the school and behold the kids roaming the halls with T-shirts featuring Bob Marley, Sublime, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and even The Beatles. They’re not being ironic; several members of each generation feel as if they were “born in the wrong decade” because the timeless classics from years past speak to them more than the current crop of auto-tuned alt-rock bands playing on Top-40.
Retro and throwback media is just that accessible. When you can pull up an episode of The Honeymooners, a Frank Zappa concert, a Lenny Bruce stand-up clip, and a 1980s Transformers commercial, the concept of generational culture becomes erased. Maybe someday we’ll lose the idea that a specific toy, game, or TV show belongs to people of a certain age bracket. For now, we get to enjoy 14-year-olds gushing condescendingly at a 50-year-old in Star Wars cosplay because “the old people are trying to fit in with us,” heedless of the fact that Star Wars is now 41 years old and still relevant.
Well, there we go, rambling again! Pull yourself up a barstool and have a swig of this good sarsaparilla, while we regale you with these artifacts from decades past. Despite the Internet’s tendency to pillage the previous generation’s cultural closet, we did dig up a couple neat retro things that you might be surprised still exist…
Aquarius Retro TV Tin Storage Fun Box
It’s just like what kids called a lunch box last century, but what’s more remarkable is the design. Before the times of 24/7 media on a million channels, TV stations would actually do this crazy thing called “signing off.” They’d simply run out of content for the day, play the national anthem, and say “good night.” Then if you tuned in past, say, 10 o’clock, this test pattern would be all that was on, sometimes accompanied by a harsh electronic squeal droning on. It was scary!
MINI ARCADE GAMES Retro Tiny Video Game Arcade Cabinet for Kids Portable Electronic Handheld Gaming Console with 200 Classic Games Cheap and Easy for Eyes
We’ve posted table-top arcade games here before, but this is the first time we’ve seen a miniature arcade cabinet play more than one game. Indeed, this spiffy little piece matches a Nintendo handheld, with some 200 games built-in. The games are more modernized than its retro aesthetic, but the cabinet is more authentically ’80s than Sam Kinison and Mr. T doing the Moonwalk.
Big Dot of Happiness 80’s Retro – Totally 1980s Party Centerpiece & Table Decoration Kit
Wow, it’s MTV in a box! This is a 1980s party decoration kit with centerpieces and confetti, printed with distinctive ’80s-era artwork. Those pictures of rectangular things on the side are tape cassettes, which is how people listened to music for a whole decade until CDs came along. The tape inside would come unwound and you’d have to find a pencil and twist the little spool in there to re-spool the tape, when you weren’t busy untangling the phone cord.
Hot Wheels, Retro Entertainment, Scooby Doo! The Mystery Machine Die-Cast Vehicle
We can’t believe Hot Wheels are still around, to say nothing of the enduring cross-generational appeal of Scooby-Doo. The Hanna-Barbera animated franchise, launched in 1969, has been preserved thanks to endless TV syndication. While the end of “Saturday morning cartoons” seemed like Scooby-Doo’s reign was finished, the show found new popularity thanks to runs on the cable channels Cartoon Network and Boomerang. Grandparents and grandkids watch it together. How is this happening?
YoYa Toys Handheld Water Game A 2 Pack Set of A Fish Ring Toss and A Basketball Aqua Arcade Toy in 2 Compact Mini Retro Pastime for Kids and Adults in A Gift Box
You young whippersnappers never saw this coming! Right up until the first battery-powered LCD games came out, these water-based skill games were quite popular. Pushing the buttons on the bottom made water squirt out in a jet, and in each game there were plastic pieces you had to steer this way. Or until you ran out of patience and just shook it upside down and around. There were rows of them at the mall; half the school played them at recess, and they were surprisingly a lot harder than they looked.
Star Jiajie Shoot The Moon Game, Classic Desktop Games Wooden Hockey Play for Adult Children’s Educational Toys
Another oldie test of skill you saw everywhere back in the day and hardly see anywhere now. Various games like this one were made of wood and wire, with a steel ball to control until it reached a goal. You’ve likely seen the maze one, so here’s its simpler but far rarer cousin. Control the ball using the two rods to drop it in graduating holes. Yes, kids, we played this for hours, it was our X-Box!