As you should already know, I can’t get enough ’80s nostalgia the whole year, but Christmas is an especially nostalgic time for me. In the past, I shared My Christmas Memories from 1980 and also My Christmas Memories from 1982 , so this year I share another personal photo snapshot that this time takes me back to My Christmas Memories from 1984…
The Transformers cartoon series didn’t air its first episode until September 17, 1984, but it caught on like wildfire and quickly became the hottest toy commodity for Christmas that year. GoBots had actually came along first being introduced in 1983 by Tonka, but were quickly eclipsed once The Transformers were introduced in 1984 (though all transforming robots were flying off store shelves for Christmas of 1984).
By 1984, U.S. regulators had removed many of the restrictions regarding the placement of promotional content within children’s television programming. Hasbro had previously worked with Marvel Comics to develop G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero for a three-pronged marketing plan including a toyline, a comic book by Marvel, and an animated television program. Hasbro did the same thing with The Transformers which was inspired by the Japanese series/toylines of Diaclone and MicroChange after they were introduced to those at the 1983 Tokyo Toy Fair. Hasbro’s plan worked with The Transformers becoming one of the best-selling toylines not only in 1984, but also 1985 and really of all-time. I never had much interest in GoBots for whatever reason, but I was an immediate fan of The Transformers. “Transformers, more than meets the eye! Transformers, robots in disguise.”
After seeing this television commercial that Fall, I knew exactly what I was putting at the top of my Christmas list…
For Christmas of 1984, the item I wanted most was the leader of the Autobots himself, Optimus Prime. I wasn’t sure if I would get it or not because The Transformers toys were in about as high demand as Cabbage Patch Kids had been the year prior. I think it was always a little more fun when there was a little bit of uncertainty surrounding whether you would get certain items on your list or not. As you already saw in the picture, one of my presents that year was Optimus Prime as I had hoped. One thing I remember is that my younger brother did not get Optimus Prime and he received the Decepticon Starscream instead. It made it a little awkward that morning, but the reason he didn’t get Optimus Prime is that my Aunt and Uncle had planned on giving it to him and we were not going to see them until during the week after Christmas. The Transformers were as popular as a toy could get that Christmas and we were lucky to receive some of the key characters. You can see in the picture that my mouth is agape with the slight surprise and growing excitement that I had just unwrapped my own personal Optimus Prime.
I am proud to say that I still have a portion of my original Transformers Optimus Prime (pictured below) and, though it has been well-played-with and is missing a few pieces, he still transforms from a truck cab into a robot. As I hold this almost 40-year-old toy in my hand right now, I can’t help but be flooded with memories of my Transformers collection and that Christmas of 1984. It was certainly one of the more memorable Christmas presents I had received during my childhood.
If you look at the picture again, you see a large box that is unwrapped except for a green bow and a note. This gift turned out to be much more impactful and used more often than any other gifts that year. My younger brother and I shared a room for a good portion of our childhood and this particular gift was one that was for both of us to share. If you read my Christmas Memories 1982, you would know that just two years prior to this I had received my first radio cassette player. For Christmas of 1984, my brother and I upgraded our stereo situation in a big way because that box included a combination unit which had a record player and a DUAL cassette deck (yes, two cassette decks!) not to mention much larger speakers.
Besides listening to music at a much louder volume in our own room, now we no longer needed to use my parents stereo to play records plus there was another major feature we didn’t have before. In addition to recording off of the radio, we could now record music from vinyl records onto cassettes and/or from one cassette to another cassette. This provided all kinds of new options for sharing music as well as continuing to master the art of making mix tapes. Both my brother and I enjoyed countless hours of listening to music through our first stereo system. It probably would get more use than any toy or game we received for any other Christmas. And I made some pretty sweet mix tapes on that bad boy as well. We upgraded a couple times over the years and my brother and I eventually moved into our own bedrooms, but that first shared stereo system will always be very special to me. Another awesome ’80s Christmas memory for sure.
I can’t thank them enough because my parents gave my brother and me a wonderful Christmas each and every year. This included much of what we put in our letters to Santa as well as so many warm memories and traditions. This picture reflects just one more of so many cherished holiday moments. Receiving that one gift that you really, really wanted that year. And maybe a gift you didn’t know you would appreciate so much until after you got it. Pure Christmas joy. All of that from this one snapshot from 1984. Looking back now, I was actually lucky every Christmas. But this was another year I was especially lucky. For a long time, I thought nothing could be better than being a kid opening presents on Christmas morning, but I have since learned that it is only exceeded by watching your own children open their presents on Christmas morning. All the best to you this Christmas season. Hope you are all creating awesome holiday memories like I am so grateful to have from the ’80s and every other decade of my life.
Revisit Old School Tim’s previous Christmas Memories features for more ’80s nostalgia: