The Top 25 Fads And Crazes From The 1980s! How Many Do You Remember?

When you think about what was popular in the 80s, besides the iconic TV shows and films, the decade was full of weird and wonderful fads such as Koosh Balls, Shoulder Pads, Hacky Sacks, Parachute Pants, M.U.S.C.L.E. Men and more! They were frequently made of ‘jelly’ and came in bright colours. Some 80s fads were quite dangerous, like car surfing, and others were just silly.

Every decade has its fads and crazes, and the 1980s was no different! It was bursting at the seams with crazy toys and questionable fashion choices, but let’s be honest – it’s a relief that some of them stayed in the 80s (mullets and hair crimping, anyone?). Most 80s fads were either cringeworthy, hilarious or just completely bonkers, and in the article below we’ve brought you 25 of the biggest crazes of the 1980s. Roll up your Miami Vice jacket and get your leg warmers ready, because we’re about to go into full 80s mode!

How many of these 80s fads and crazes do you remember?

1. Koosh Balls

Who remembers these toys appearing in the playground? They were balls made of rubber filaments and attached to a soft core, which came in lots of different colours. Koosh balls were collectable too, so people would get as many colours as they could. It was hard to say what the exact aim of these toys was, but whether it was just for the feel of the ball itself, or to throw around to each other, they were still great fun!

A multi-coloured Koosh ball

Launched in 1988 by USA company Hasbro, this ball was one playground treat.

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The only issue was when someone had a Koosh that was a better set of colours than yours and you would become insanely jealous! Now, who’s for a game of piggy in the middle?!

Someone holding several koosh balls

2. Jelly Shoes

Who remembers jelly shoes? For 80s girls everywhere, these shoes were a delight to wear! They were light and airy, meaning your feet never got too sweaty (which is always a positive), plus they came in many different styles and colours. They only cost a few quid, too. Of course, the glitter jellies were the Rolls Royce of the jelly shoes world – did you manage to pick up a pair?

Typical pairs of jelly shoes in the 1980s

They were great for at the seaside when you wanted to have a paddle in the sea but keep your shoes on. No fear of having a nip on your toe from a crab!

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Your Jelly shoes dried in minutes too which meant they were definitely the perfect beach wear accessory. Which was your favourite pair of Jelly Shoes?

Glitter jelly shoes from the 80s

3. Car Surfing

The Teen Wolf movie had a lot to answer for with this craze, after showing Michael J. Fox‘s character surfing on the roof of his friend’s van as a were wolf!

People doing the car surfing fad in the 80s

80s kids will remember that this craze involved getting on top of a friend’s car whilst they drove it and trying to look cool and like you were surfing. We can’t condone this in any way and can’t even start to say how dangerous it is – please do not try this at home!

Michael J Fox car surfing in Teen Wolf

4. Shoulder Pads

Joan Collins eat your heart out! With Dynasty rocking the 80’s TV screens, shoulder padded garments wide enough to make an American footballer jealous quickly became all the rage.

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This was one of the biggest fads of the 80s and one of the few that was adopted more by the middle and upper classes than anyone else. Check out Cindy Crawford rocking some shoulder pads back in the day:

Cindy Crawford modelling shoulder pads in the 80s

The 80s was the start of women in the workplace who wanted to make it clear that they were capable of doing every job a man can do. With that came power dressing and the desire to present oneself as a serious, intelligent and strong woman. Just like Joan in Dynasty

Joan Collins in Dynasty

5. Hair Crimping

Crimping was the Marmite of the hair style world – you either loved it or you didn’t like it at all.

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There was no middle ground and no “meh” take it or leave it! This hair style appeared at many an 80s school disco, usually paired with very large hoop earrings and some leg warmers to complete the look.

An example of hair crimping

Often a hair crimped look would be accompanied with some coloured hair spray too, from pink, red, blue, anything bright. It wasn’t just about the crimping but about being noticed for the fact that you were a part of this trend!

80s hair crimping

6. Hacky Sacks

Oh yes! Hacky Sacks were the mini leather beanbags which came in many colours, complete with different facial expressions slapped across them.

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They were just awesome for a game of catch, or kicking up in the air to another person who passed it back (all without using your hands). Hacky Sack is actually considered a proper “sport” in the US, so they obviously have simple tastes when it comes to certain things. I mean yes they’re fun, but only for about 5 minutes!

Hacky Sacks from the 80s

One of the best things to do was to line all the Hacky Sacks up on a swing, then push the swing. The person whose Hacky Sack is the last one remaining on the swing, after the others have fallen off wins. Hours of fun there! Well, hour. OK, minutes. Maybe. Did you have Hacky Sacks at home?

A Hacky Sack with a sad face

7. Parachute Pants

Breakdancing boys of the mid 80’s could not get enough of these trousers! Parachute pants were tight fitting trousers characterised by their interesting shape. The nylon material was similar to that of a parachute and they often had a very large crotch area that could sometimes come down lower than the knees!

Parachute Pants in the 1980s

Yes, they looked absurd. Yes, we all know someone that thought they looked amazing in these. And no, we know that they didn’t. At all. Ever. Thank god this fad didn’t last long, despite MC Hammer’s best efforts!

MC Hammer wearing parachute pants

8. Freezy Freakies

What a fad these were in the mid 80s! Freezy Freakies were snow gloves which revealed fun colours and designs in cold temperatures.

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They couldn’t be used too often, but were great if you had rich parents who were taking you on a skiing trip in the school holidays.

Some examples of Freezy Freakies

Did you know anyone who had these? Did they work well, or was it never cold enough to see properly the effect they were meant to have?

Another pair of Freezy Freakies from the 1980s

9. Slap Bracelets

These little rascals were banned from many schools in the late 80’s due to injuries. They were a massive trend, though and people had loads of these tucked away at home, in all sorts of different colours!

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Slap bracelets were so popular that they lasted well into the 90s too. They came in many different patterns and were composed of a layered flexible stainless steel bistable spring band sealed within a fabric cover.

Slap Bracelets in the 1980s

The band would straighten out and slap around your wrist! Some recent media outlets have revealed that slap bands are actually bits of tape measured wrapped up in fabric, which are very sharp and very dangerous…oops.

A Frozen themed slap bracelet

10. Leg Warmers

In the decade of Flashdance and Fame, leg warmers were at their absolute peak of popularity! They were designed for cold days, but seemed to be used more in the gym. People who exercise are normally already pretty warm, so leg warmers must have been more than a little bit sweaty!

Coloured leg warmers

Leg warmers were around long before the 80’s, but the 80’s saw them peak in popularity. They came in every colour, and in tonnes of designs.

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They weren’t just for dancers, they were used as part of day to day outfits too – even over tights, with a skirt! But, hey, it was the 80’s, the fashion capital of all time, so fair enough…

A model wearing leg warmers in the 80s

11. Mullets

The mullet was one of the ultimate in bad hair styles, yet one that many men over the course of the 80s would inexplicably partake in. It didn’t look particularly great then and looking back, it looked even worse than we thought!

A man rocking a mullet

Pat Sharp manged to single-handedly keep the “fashion” going with his time on the spotlight in Fun House and inspired a generation of idiots to copy his style. Thankfully mullets are long gone!

Pat Sharp and his mullet

12. Big Hair

It wasn’t just men who had big hair… 80s women were equally guilty of bad hair styles and it seemed at times that bigger was meant to be better.

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We’ve all looked over old wedding photos and felt a sharp pang of regret over our choice of hairstyle…

A woman with big 80s hair

This was one trend that continued well after the 80s when Jennifer Aniston managed to help keep the big hair style thanks to her turn on Friends. Luckily it has calmed down a bit now, but big hair still rears its ugly head from time to time!

More 80s big hair

13. Garbage Pail Kids

These were the ultimate collectable cards and yet some of the designs were really quite disgusting. At the time, it just seemed like they were very gross, disgusting characters that the manufacturers had made up, and we felt really grown up collecting them.

A collection of Garbage Pail Kids

Looking back, these were actually really inventive, and it’s amazing to see how many of the characters were based on other creatures or characters that were already around and had been adapted.

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These still look great today! Check out the Garbage Pail equivalent of Vincent Van Gogh:

The Vincent Van Gone Garbage Pail Kids

14. Yo-yos

Yo-yos often come and go as a fad and every generation experiences these wonderful toys at some point. However, they were a particularly massive fad in the 80s.

Yo-Yos in the 80s

We had the light-up yo-yos that looked great but were too heavy to use properly. However we also had a Coca-Cola branded yo-yo with his silver and gold collectable yo-yos that took the country by storm!

Coca cola Yo-Yo

15. Walkman

It’s amazing just how much ahead of its time the Walkman seemed in the 1980s. It was literally like you were owning a little bit of the future right there in your hand!

A Sony Walkman in the 80s

Being able to go out and take your music with you was awesome and didn’t seem quite real at the time, but it really makes you realise how much we take it for granted now when we can have thousands of songs at hand in our pockets.

Another example of a Sony Walkman

16. Finger Monsters

These little critters were cute and very cool. It was impossible not to smile at someone when they showed you their hand with several of these on their fingers!

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Even the hardest heart would melt – do you remember them?

Finger Monster toys

How many of these did you and your friends have between you? Did you swap and change, or did you have a particular favourite which you simply wouldn’t let out of your sight?

Finger Monster toys with their 80s packaging

17. Cabbage Patch Dolls

We’ll be totally honest here – we have never been able to understand this particular fad. What were the Cabbage Patch Dolls all about? Cabbage Patch Dolls were not attractive toys, they didn’t look nice and they didn’t look friendly.

Cabbage Patch Dolls

In fact, these things looked creepy as hell! And yet they were incredibly popular at the time and sold in their millions. Each to their own!

A blonde-haired Cabbage Patch doll

18. M.U.S.C.L.E. Men

These things were totally bizarre. However, they were cool, collectible and extremely popular in the 80s.

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Everywhere you looked in a school playground there would be M.U.S.C.L.E Men, and some people would have dozens in their pockets every day!

Muscle men in their original packaging

How many of these did you have? Did you try and stick to the relatively “normal” looking ones, or was it all about the more unique designs, with multiple limbs, block-shaped heads and random body parts sticking out in every direction? Whatever the case, they looked good, and had that particular smell of rubbery-plastic that takes you instantly back to your childhood days!


Muscle Men figures

19. Micro Machines

Coming along in the late 80s, these took the world by storm and were a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic! They were so easy to collect and would usually come in packs of 3 or 5. Micro Machines were also great to swap with mates if they had a particular one you desperately wanted.

80s Micro Machines

There was one draw back with Micro Machines, though. They were so small, and people had so many of them, and they had wheels… meaning that accidents could very easily ensue if an unsuspecting parent walked in and didn’t look at where they were standing! Kevin Malone learned this to his advantage in Home Alone:

Micro Machines in Home Alone

20. Rubik’s Puzzles

The Rubik’s Cube took the World by storm and was insanely popular (arguably it still is today).

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These days it’s about who can complete it the quickest, but in the 80s it was just about trying to crack it at all. In the end, far too many people simply resorted to one of two things – either give up, or peel off the stickers and cheat!

A Rubik's cube

But it wasn’t just the Rubik’s Cube. There were several other puzzles released by Rubik’s, all of them incredibly inventive, but none of them taking off in the same way as the infamous Cube! Which of the Rubik’s puzzles do you remember attempting – and failing?!

Rubik's puzzles

21. Ghetto Blasters

This was considered a portable radio! These things were big and the people who would walk around with them thought they looked ridiculously cool. Ghetto blasters were heavy, too, so you had to be pretty strong to lug one of these around with you.

A 1980s ghetto blaster

It was funny how everyone who had these were in to heavy rock or heavy metal, though.

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It was rare to hear anyone banging out Mozart, Beethoven, or even just Spandau Ballet! It might have given the wrong impression if they had.

22. Monster Balls

These things were really different and looked the business for those who wanted to be part of the cool crowd at school. Monster Balls were based around different famous monsters from different eras and were very well designed. Check out these crackers below:

Monster Balls from the 80s

Monster Balls were slightly too hard to be used as regular balls though, and if you threw them at each other with too much force there was a good chance one of you would get a serious injury.

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These weren’t about them being balls though, it was about them being just a little bit bad-ass!

Some more examples of Monster Balls

23. Boglins

Another cool monster-related product, Boglins were basically meant to be friendly little Goblins that came in a box, hence the name, Boglins. They looked the part and they also felt the part too – they were made of a kind of latex that felt really skin-like which was even more creepy!

Two different Boglins

For the ultimate in fun, wait until fairly late, and balance one on top of your big sister’s door. Wait for her to open the door and for it to fall on her in the dark. Wait for the scream… Then get beaten up because she’s bigger than you! All good fun!

A Boglin in its packaging

24. Polly Pocket

This was one of the biggest toy crazes aimed at girls of the 80s.

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You had Barbie, Cindy and of course, Polly Pocket! The difference was you could take a couple of Barbies or Cindy’s when you’re out for the day, and maybe a change of clothing for them.

Polly Pocket figurines

But you could take Polly and her whole world with you!  These were really inventive and really encouraged kids to use their imaginations. They released dozens of different sets and people would collect as many as possible. Apparently there are signs that Polly Pocket is about to make a big comeback, and all we can say is it’s a welcome return, long overdue!

A selection of Polly Pocket toys

25. Monster in my Pocket

Which young kid didn’t love monsters? Monster In My Pocket capitalised on kids’ love of the different and the macabre and created a wonderful world of weird and wonderful creatures.

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It was easy to collect dozens of them, and even if you had the same one twice, it didn’t matter too much – you can have more than one vampire or werewolf in a movie, right?

Monster in my pocket toys from the 80s

The characters in this series were particularly good as they didn’t just stick to the tried and tested Universal Monster catalogue, of mummies, vampires and werewolves. They drew on influences from all over the world, different ages and different cultures, from old English folk lore like Jack the Ripper, to Greek Mythological creatures like Medusa. How many did you have?

Monster in my pocket toys set

Wow! That was an amazing look back at some wonderful, different and interesting fads and crazes from everyone’s favourite era!

A 1980s dance class

Has this brought back loads of memories from the 80s and when you were growing up?

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How many of these amazing crazes and fads were you a part of? Have we missed any of your favourite out of our list?

We look forward to seeing what crazes and fads are still to come in the the near future and beyond.

giphy The Top 25 Fads And Crazes From The 1980s! How Many Do You Remember?

We sit here wondering if any of them will capture the imagination of the public the same way that they did in the 80s.

Shoes with no socks for men, anyone? And does anyone else think that looks as utterly ridiculous as I do? Oh good!

Image result for Shoes without socks men

Let us know all your thought in the comments as always and share this with your friends who also experienced the same kinds of fads and crazes in their childhoods!

giphy The Top 25 Fads And Crazes From The 1980s! How Many Do You Remember?