30 Toys That Defined the ’70s
In a 1973 letter to a colleague, then-ambassador to India Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote “That’s it. Nothing will happen. But then nothing much is going to happen in the 1970s anyway.” And for a time that prediction seemed to ring true. Smashed between the white-hot 1960s and the “greed is good” attitude of the materialistic 1980s, the 1970s seem, at best, a troubled decade, primarily defined by the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.
While it remains true that the ‘70s are often overlooked and undervalued, the decade did have several long-lasting, decidedly negative effects on American culture. First, before the decade every class, culture, and industry was an upwardly mobile one. Since the close of the ‘70s, this no longer is true. Second, American culture, as a whole, is much more individualistic and far less communitarian than it was before the decade. According to American Heritage, this makes notions our culture used to take for granted, like deferred gratification, sacrifice, and sustained national effort a “hard sell.”
But not everything that came out of the ‘70s was bad. The decade had its fair share of positive moments. For example, Apple Computers was founded in 1976, “Star Wars” premiered in 1977, and Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Also, toy companies seriously stepped up their game, producing some truly iconic playthings throughout the decade, and revolutionizing the industry. In this article, Stacker used historical and retail websites to compile a list of 30 toys popular in the United States in the 1970s, many of which remain popular today. From Stretch Armstrong to Pet Rocks to an updated Easy-Bake Oven, scroll through the list and take a trip down memory lane to recall some highlights of the often-overlooked ‘70s.