20 Things Every “Cool Kid” Growing Up in the 1970s Owned

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If you adore Baby Yoda or Cookie Monster now, you would have loved the 1970s. That decade was full of beloved characters that remain popular today. Some of these—like Barbie, big dollhouses, and Lego sets, are still favorites among kids. Others were a bit silly, like the smooth gray stone that your parents might have called their pet rock. Here are 20 things every “cool kid” growing up in the 1970s owned!

Star Wars Action Figures

“Star Wars Action Figures” by Travis S. is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Every ’70s kid had at least a few of these popular Kenner action figures. But sometimes you’d meet someone obsessed—maybe they had the limited edition early release Boba Fett, which you could only get by mailing in proof-of-purchase cutouts, or the R5-D4, a minor robot from the Star Wars universe that only true fans remember.

Trendy Tube Socks

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We’re honestly puzzled why tube socks—especially the ones with colorful stripes at the top that stretched up to your knees—were considered stylish. But they were a big deal in the ’70s. According to the Smithsonian, famous personalities like basketball stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and “Dr. J.” Erving and actress Farrah Fawcett made this quirky fashion trend popular. It seems their influence was strong enough to make these socks a must-have item back then.

Banana Seat Bikes

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You didn’t even need to pop a wheelie if you had a chopper bike. Just sitting on it and tapping your fingers on the handlebars pretty much like you were revving a throttle made you look like Evel Knievel about to jump a canyon. The Raleigh Chopper—with its unique wheel sizes and tall handlebars, was the must-have bike for every kid in the ’70s and ’80s.

Stretchy Armstrong Toy

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Stretch Armstrong was like a stress ball for kids before they hit puberty. How much could you stretch him before he gave up? Many kids were eager to find out—pulling his arms and legs like they were trying to get a secret out of him. The secret to Stretch’s stretchiness was plain old corn syrup inside his body.

Foam Nerf Balls

“The Very FIRST Nerf Branded Product, the Nerf Ball from 1969. With Mike Mozart” by JeepersMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Nerf balls were a big hit among kids, marketed as the first indoor ball ever. They were advertised as very safe – “You can’t break lamps or windows,” the ads said. “You can’t hurt babies or old folks.” Yep, that was the ’70s, when saying “our product won’t hurt anyone” was a selling point. But so that you know, you could still break a lamp with one of these!

Bouncing Pogo Sticks

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The original pogo stick design has been around since the early 20th century, but its popularity skyrocketed once again in the swinging ’70s. And what’s not to love about it? With its fun factor, it quickly became a staple of playgrounds everywhere. However, mastering the art of pogoing might require a bit of practice. But once you’ve got the hang of it—bouncing around on a pogo stick can provide endless entertainment.

Teen Heartthrob Magazines

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Subscribing to Tiger Beat magazine was like having the top insider scoop on teen heartthrobs like David Cassidy. Sure, there weren’t many breaking news stories about them. How many times can you write about Scott Baio’s kisses or whether Donny Osmond is cute or very cute? But this magazine had subscription numbers that today’s magazines could only dream of.

Quirky Pet Rocks

“Let’s Rock Pet Rock” by San José Public Library is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The pet rock was basically a rock with googly eyes stuck on it. That’s all. But in the ’70s, Gary Dahl—an advertising guy, sold millions of them. And get this: you can find rocks anywhere on Earth for free if you take a quick look around! It was like the Tide Pod Challenge back then, but with fewer hospital trips.

Miniature Dollhouse Sets

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In the ’70s, building dollhouses became a massive hit among kids. But did you know this hobby actually started way back in Northern European countries as a way to show off wealth? Anyway, back to the ”’70s—kids loved it because they could let their imaginations run wild! They could design their dream dollhouse and make up all sorts of stories for the dolls living inside. 

Fashionista Barbie Dolls

“late 70’s/early 80’s Barbie dolls & fashions” by dollyhaul is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

In the ’70s, Barbie was just as adored as she is today. Kids could dress her up, do her hair, and let their imaginations run wild in her colorful world. Since her debut in 1959, Barbie’s popularity hasn’t faded one bit. And hey, did you hear about the movie? It made a whopping $1.446 billion and set some impressive records—like being the highest-grossing film of 2023.

Action-Packed G.I. Joe Figures

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Thanks to G.I. Joe, dolls weren’t just for girls anymore in the ’70s. He made playing with dolls cool for boys, too. G.I. Joe was a top toy back then, and kids still love playing with this toy soldier today. These old Joes are still valuable for a couple of reasons. One, G.I. Joe is a famous brand that’ll never go out of style. Plus, collectors go crazy for them!

Superhero Underwear Sets

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Here’s the deal with superhero costumes: many of them look like long underwear. Take Superman, for example. What’s he wearing? Underwear! So, someone had this bright idea to turn that into a fashion trend: underwear resembling superhero costumes. It might sound a bit strange, but honestly, maybe they should bring it back!

Moonwalking Moon Boots

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Made by an Italian bootmaker who loved the moon landing, these boots made us feel like astronauts walking on the moon. They became the coolest footwear trend of the ’70s. Moon boots were such a hit that in 2000, the Louvre Museum added them to its collection of the most important design symbols of the 20th century.

Funky Roller Skates

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In the 1970s, also known as the groovy era, roller skating became very popular! People weren’t just doing it for fun—they were using roller skates to get around, too. Roller skates became like fashion accessories, worn almost everywhere. It was a total craze! Roller discos also started during this time, blending disco music with roller skating. Basically, it was like going to a dance party on wheels at a roller skating rink.

Bionic Six Million Dollar Man Toys

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The 12-inch Steve Austin dolls from the Six Million Dollar Man were high-tech for their time. They had cool features—like a real bionic eye that you could see through! Plus, you could peel away his skin to reveal his bionic parts underneath. And the best part? His right hand had a “bionic grip” that let him hold onto almost anything! Having one of these dolls was the ultimate in coolness.

Stylish Bell Bottom Pants

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Bell bottoms are those pants with wide legs that make you wonder: Were we trying to make our calves look extra strong? Did someone think, “Let’s mix tight pants with a tripping hazard”? Despite the confusion, many adults thought bell bottoms were stylish in the ’70s, and you know how it goes—if adults think it’s cool, kids want in, too! So naturally, we all ended up wearing them.

Unbreakable Super Combs

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The first unbreakable super comb was massive and bulky, almost like a weapon. It could tackle any knot, no matter how tough. But beyond keeping your hair in check, this comb was all about style. Tucking a Good Super Comb into your back pocket was like saying you were the coolest kid around, kind of like the Shaft of your school.

David Bowie Vinyl Albums

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Having David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album on vinyl was a big deal, whether you were a fan or not. Just having it, with Bowie on the cover, looking both super cool and scary—instantly made you cooler. And if you knew all the words to songs like “Rebel Rebel” or “Diamond Dogs,” well, that was even better!

Fortune-Telling Magic 8 Balls

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Even though Albert C. Carter came up with the idea back in the ’40s, the Magic 8 Ball became popular in the ’70s when Ideal Toys started promoting it to kids. Since then, it’s become a classic toy found in homes all over the world. And get this—the Magic 8 Ball you can buy today looks almost exactly like the original one!

Interchangeable Micronauts Toys

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Before Transformers took over, Micronauts were the go-to toys for cool kids in the 70s. We didn’t have much backstory for these characters, unlike Star Wars figures. But the deal was they were robots from another world, and you could swap their parts around. It made other toys, like X-Wing fighters, seem kind of boring in comparison.