9 Christmas Classics from the 80’s

At 9Stein we like to take trips down memory lane to remind us of times gone by.

Growing up in the 80’s was a time before the internet took the world by storm, or at least it hadn’t come to dominate the lives of children and the young yet.

Whereas nowadays kids may ask for the latest app or a new phone for Christmas, back in the 80’s we asked for bicycles, board games and toy cars.

We’ve put together this list post to remind you of your 80’s childhood and to educate the Millennial generation what real toys & childhood should look like!

These are 9 Games & Toys 80’s Kids Will Remember


9stein - Crossfire

If you mention Crossfire to the young people of today, they think you are talking about the PC or online shoot-em up. Say that same word to someone of my age, and I’m 40, and you will receive a fond smile full of nostalgia.

Crossfire was a true classic is the 80s. A rapid fire shoot-out game where the aim is to hit the two pucks on the board into the opposing player’s goal using ball bearings.

As a small kid, the 100 by 80 cm board seemed massive. At each end the weapons were mounted, those being red plastic guns. I recall getting a few blisters after a long session on this game but when in the heat of battle against your brother or sister in an attempt to claim bragging rights over the Christmas turkey, it really was a case or no pain, no gain.

Sadly, by March time, half the ball bearings had been lost and the trigger mechanism on the plastic guns was on the blink meaning the game couldn’t be played with the same intensity as it was in late December, but nevertheless this game is a true classic and deserves to be on this list.

Connect 4

9stein - Connect 4

Quite often, the simple ones are the best and Connect 4 fits that bracket perfectly. As the name suggests, the aim of the game is to connect four coloured discs in a row, either horiziontally, vertically or diagonally. The grid used is vertically suspended with 7 columns across and 6 rows high. It is a 2 player game where each player takes alternating turns, dropping their disc into their chosen column to try and connect four of their own colours together while also preventing their opponent from doing the same.

Why is this game a classic? Because it truly is a game for all ages. I remember playing this in the early 80s, when i was knee-high to a grasshopper, against my nan who was, shall we say, the wrong side of 60. Not many games have been able to achieve such cross-generation appeal and thus it deserves its place on the 9stein Christmas Classics list.

Rayleigh Grifter

9stein - Grifter

It was Christmas of ’82 when I came bursting down the stairs to see what joys Santa had left us this year. I remember the living room light being on my the curtains were still drawn.

‘Stay there and don’t touch anything, wait for the others,’ came a shout from the kitchen.

Once the rest of the family gathered, my father handed out a few presents to my brothers and I. After opening what was under the tree, I was asked to open the patio doors’ curtains. Wanting to delve into what I had just received, I reluctantly got up while munching on a Milky Way, which I had just taken from the selection box, and headed to the end of the room to let some daylight in.

And there she was, a Flame red Rayleigh Grifter – shiny and sparkling. Now I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, believe me, I was stoked to have a brand new bike but deep down I wanted a BMX. This slight disappointment was magnified when my brothers were asked to have a look in the kitchen and their sat 2 BMXes.

Still, the Grifter was a classic. It was a bike that was built to last. She came with a comfy foam seat and was fully equipped with 3 gears which were controlled by the handle-bar twist grip.

The downside was, as a skinny 7 year old, trying to do wheelies was near on impossible due to the frame begin constructed from what seemed like reinforced scaffold poles.

Tin Can Alley

9stein - Tin Can Alley

This was a great game in the early 80s and perfect for a bit of father – son bonding as well. The idea was very simple, using infra-red technology which was embedded inside the toy rifle, you shot at a mark on the plastic wall which had a selection of tin cans placed upon it. If you hit the mark/target, the can would ‘pop-off’ just as though it had been shot off.

I thought the technology of using infra-red was quite advanced for its time, although that seems like a million years ago these days, and that was one of the factors which endeared me to this Christmas classic, that and deep down every kid wanted to be a cowboy at some point in his childhood.


9stein - Simon

As we at 9stein have said, ‘the simple ones are often the best’ and that goes for this strangely addictive game.

Another one which any member of the family can play, although if your mum was watching a re-run of the Sound of Music, you might be told to sod off in another room and play it.

The game has four coloured buttons and once activated it plays a simple tune and as each note plays it lights up one of the coloured segments. The player then presses the buttons in the correct order to replicate the tune. With each successful attempt, the tunes get longer and longer.

A worthy addition to the list not only because it was so popular back in the day but it was good for improving one’s memory skills.


9stein - Scalextric

This game had been about since the late 50s but I first came across it during an 80s Christmas. This game is absolutely superb and I had hours of fun playing it with family and friends.

Once out of the box, you just clip the pieces of your track together to form your circuit. I was quite lucky in that my father had also bought some extra sections of track so the circuit ended up being the length of the living room. Your model Scalextric car had a little guiding wedge which slotted into the runners on the track surface. My car was the yellow Mini Cooper.

I will always remember, a few weeks after receiving this gift, my father came home from work and pulled out a TR7 Scalextric car, this wiped the floor with my Mini. If I tried to go flat out, I’d be off going round the corners whereas the TR7 would just fly round them.

Then just as sudden as the TR7 appeared, it went again. It was my father’s pride and joy and he wouldn’t let the children use it. Mean git or he just knew it would get wrecked? You decide!


9stein - Ker Plunk

Another from generation plastic, KerPlunk makes the list due to it being one of the most enjoyable family games in the 80s.

Very simple to set up, a transparent plastic tube pops into the game’s base which contains four trays, one for each player. The plastic tube is full of little holes in which you slot 30 plastic straws – in from one side and out through the other – forming a plastic lattice. With the lattice work complete, the marbles are then placed on top of it. The plastic tube also has a small hole at the bottom which you align with your tray when it is your turn to go.

The aim then is to take turns, each player, in turn, pulls a plastic straw out, hoping that no marbles drop through the lattice. The winner is the player with the fewest marbles in their tray at the end of the game.

The only downside to this game was the fact that it took longer to set up than the game actually lasted but still provided some excellent family entertainment while the After Eights were doing the rounds


Speak and Spell

9stein - Speak and Spell

Some people say that this game marked the change in times. It was one of the first electronic handheld devices when it hit the shelves in the late 70s. I got my hands on one of these beauties in the mid 80s and was quietly impressed.

The device would say a word and the user would type in the correct spelling – considering this was first brought to market 37 years ago – the technology was cutting-edge at the time. This made spelling cool and you were a cool kid on the block if you had one of these dangling off your arm.

A true educational masterpiece which, perhaps, began the revolution in hand-held devices.

ZX Spectrum 48K

9stein - 48k Spectrum

This truly was a great Christmas – opened my presents to find the ZX Spectrum 48K sitting in front of me. At the time this was the dogs bollocks – and I had one.

The Sinclair Spectrums were the first personal computers on the market and this little black beast with its grey rubber keyboard provided hours upon hours of fun.

Through the wall was the first game I played on mine, quickly followed by Horace goes skiing. Later favourites included Jet Pack which had a slight design flaw in that on a certain level you could leave your astronaut perched on the corner of one of the platforms and he couldn’t be hit. I would go down and have my dinner and race back to my bedroom and pick up where I left off – it was great!

Manic Minor was extremely annoying and addictive at the same time and Football Manager started a trend which is still going strong today.

Loading games via a cassette takes me right back – those were the days – until that annoying noise would come up signalling ‘loading error’

This was the ultimate – enough said!


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