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123: “We’re Into Barbie!” – Girls’ Toys of the 80s & 90s

We hope you like the color pink, because that’s all you’re getting in this episode! In the second part of our Toys of Summer series, we look back at the most popular toys from our youth that were targeted at little girls – the gentle equines of MY LITTLE PONY, the disturbing, dead-eyed CABBAGE PATCH KIDS, the complicated backstory of JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS, and of course the ubiquitous BARBIE, who first appeared on shelves wearing a black-and-white-striped bathing suit and has since become synonymous with the color pink. 

Mattel has sold billions of Barbie dolls in the last 60 years despite often being the target of controversy; the doll has been a best friend and role model to the little girls who play with her while also contributing to their low self-image. Is there still a place for Barbie today? The inevitable box-office success of Barbie’s first live-action big-screen adaptation might make you say Yes, but when it comes to the dolls, are we as willing to let the next generation of women spend their days imagining themselves as a buxom blonde bombshell?

Join Becky, Chris, and Seth as they explore the gender politics of playing with Barbies, try to make sense of the absurd backstories of Jem and the Holograms and the Cabbage Patch Kids, and compare the stark differences between marketing to boys and girls. 

Follow When We Were Young on Twitter and Instagram at @WWWYshow, on Facebook at Facebook.com/WWWYShow and email episode suggestions to wwwyshow@gmail.com. Don’t forget to subscribe and review us on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts (or wherever you get your podcasts) so more folks check out the show!

Help us defray the costs of creating this show, which include recording remotely, purchasing movies/shows/music to review, delivery food to eat our feelings, and producing & editing in-house at the MFP Studio in Los Angeles, California by donating to our Patreon account at patreon.com/WhenWeWereYoung

122: “More Than Meets The Eye” – Boys’ Toys of the 80s and 90s

In this “Boys’ Toys” episode of our two-part TOYS OF SUMMER podcast, we revisit icons ranging from Zack the Lego Maniac to Sergeant Slaughter in remembrance of the toys we played with in the 80s and 90s that were marketed primarily to boys.

As it turns out, some of our favorite cartoons from childhood were more than meets the eye – they were advertisements in disguise, created explicitly to get us to buy plastic playthings! The toy-to-TV-show trend kicked off with Hasbro’s relaunch of its G.I. JOE action figures in 1982, rebranded as the “Real American Hero” in a corresponding animated series. It was soon followed by action figure juggernauts HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE and THE TRANSFORMERS. Using bulging muscles, explosive hardware, and cartoon violence to appeal to young boys, these series often wrapped up with a wholesome life lesson to balance out the mayhem (before cutting to a commercial break encouraging us to buy the latest bazooka-toting action figures).

Along the way, we touch on other toys marketed mainly to boys during this era, including Hot Wheels, Nerf, Tonka Trucks, and Super Soaker – and of course, share thoughts on 1986’s TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE and how the death of Optimus Prime traumatized a whole generation of youngsters.

With the fabulous secrets of our favorite toy brands revealed to us, do any of these products still have the power? Or do companies like Hasbro and Mattel just look like Decepticons to us now? With movies like BARBIE and TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS in theaters this summer, it’s the perfect time to reconsider the lessons we learned from toy-branded cartoons and commercials in the 80s and 90s. Because now we know that the cartoons we loved as kids were a total sham — and knowing is half the battle!

(This episode may contain a choking hazard for children under 3. Becky, Chris, and Seth sold separately.)

Follow When We Were Young on Twitter and Instagram at @WWWYshow, on Facebook at Facebook.com/WWWYShow and email episode suggestions to wwwyshow@gmail.com. Don’t forget to subscribe and review us on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts (or wherever you get your podcasts) so more folks check out the show!

Help us defray the costs of creating this show, which include recording remotely, purchasing movies/shows/music to review, delivery food to eat our feelings, and producing & editing in-house at the MFP Studio in Los Angeles, California by donating to our Patreon account at patreon.com/WhenWeWereYoung

77: “I Learned That From A Rat” – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

If you thought this podcast was done discussing everyone’s favorite gang of pubescent crime fighting reptiles, we’ve got news for you! Less than a year after the first TMNT movie did some major league butt-kicking at the box office, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE offered a second helping of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo — plus their furry but wise sensei Splinter, their cutlery-inspired arch-nemesis Shredder, and a whole lot of shameless pizza promotion.

There’s no question that this sequel is more kid-friendly than the original, replacing Judith Hoag’s feisty April O’Neil with the more amiable Paige Turco, ditching the hockey-stick wielding bad boy Casey Jones, and giving our heroes a teenage pizza delivery boy sidekick. It also shows off more of Jim Henson’s creature effects with its super-sized baby villains Tokka and Rahzar. But TMNT II is perhaps best known as the film debut of Vanilla Ice, whose “Ninja Rap” inspires the hip-hop dance number that no early 90s family flick should be without.

And before we’re completely done dining on turtle soup, our hosts reminisce about the video games, action figures, concert tours, and other wild TMNT merch we begged our parents to buy us — and recap their recent viewing of 1996’s SPACE JAM, too. Go ninja, go ninja, go listen to part two of our podcast — back by bodacious demand!

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @WWWYshow, on Facebook at Facebook.com/WWWYShow and email your episode suggestions to wwwyshow@gmail.com. Don’t forget to subscribe and review us on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts so more folks check out the show!

Help us defray the costs of creating this show, which includes purchasing movies/shows/music to review, delivery food to eat our feelings, and producing & editing in-house at the MFP Studio in Los Angeles, California, by donating to our Patreon account at patreon.com/WhenWeWereYoung

76: “They’re Heroes In A Half-Shell, And They’re Green” – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The world’s most fearsome podcast team unleashes its most tubular episodes yet, diving deep into the mythos of those lean, green phenoms of yore, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

First, we check out the comic book where it all began, discussing how a black-and-white spoof aimed at adults became one of the most popular children’s franchises of all time. Radical! Next, we revisit the kitschy cartoon series — and the catchy theme song we’ll never be able to get out of our heads, even if our brains are removed from our bodies and placed in awkward bald-guy-in-red-underwear human suits. Righteous! And finally, we return to 1990’s live action TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES movie and debate who, exactly, this mashup of samurai lore, stoner slang, dated movie references, and goofy kiddie humor is supposed to be for. Cowabunga!

Do we still feel the Turtle Power after all these years? Or has this whole franchise aged about as well as April O’Neil’s bright yellow jumpsuit and white go-go boots? Don a trench coat, grab your nunchucks, and head on down to the sewers for another cool (but rude) episode of When We Were Young!

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @WWWYshow, on Facebook at Facebook.com/WWWYShow and email your episode suggestions to wwwyshow@gmail.com. Don’t forget to subscribe and review us on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts so more folks check out the show!

Help us defray the costs of creating this show, which includes purchasing movies/shows/music to review, delivery food to eat our feelings, and producing & editing in-house at the MFP Studio in Los Angeles, California, by donating to our Patreon account at patreon.com/WhenWeWereYoung