NEW YORK – Forever young? Toymakers are making it possible.
In a trend that's sweeping the toy industry, playthings of yesteryear are packing store shelves, enticing adults to stock up on their favorite childhood toys.
After a nearly 20-year hiatus, Malibu Barbie is back with the same bleach blonde mane and powder bathing suit. Also along for the reissuing ride: He-Man, Transformers, Care Bears Strawberry Shortcake and Big Wheels.
"I saw Care Bears at the Toy Fair and actually ignored an entire human because of them," said Bob Friedland, a spokesperson for FAO Schwarz, a company capitalizing on the retro toy trend.
And the new old toys are appealing to kids of all ages.
"They are all selling fantastic," Friedland said. "People want to buy them for themselves and for their kids. It's a return to the classics."
At the Toys "R" Us in New York's Times Square, an overwhelming Care Bear section greets incoming customers, taking many of them by surprise.
"I can't believe Care Bears are out," said April Iannaccone of Pennsylvania. "When I saw them I was like, 'No way!"
And for some, it's helping them remember the kid inside them.
"To see Cabbage Patch Kids dolls I don't feel so old," said 33-year-old Michael William of New York. "People feel old when you can't relate to things. These just remind me of when I was a kid. It makes us remember what it was like to play with a Cabbage Patch Kid or a Transformer."
But why all of a sudden are toy companies turning to their archives? Some feel that a tumultuous year may have people demanding the familiar, though many, like Friedland, disagree.
"A lot of these toys were out before Sept. 11 and I was loving them," he said.
Whatever the motives, toys are viewed as the perfect way to bridge the gap between generations.
"I'd rather buy my child something back from my youth so I can explain what it meant to us," said David Esaw, 22.
Peter Nasan, the director of marketing and communications from Marz Distributors, which specializes in toys and games, agrees that nothing can build a bond between parent and child like a toy they both cherish.
"The ['70s and '80s] were the last great wave of toys." Nasan said. "Alf, Care Bears and Gizmo were the last of the toys you could hold onto before electronics took over."
Now that retro is in, many are hoping their childhood favorites will once again be released. "I'd like to see the Six Million Dollar Man doll," Williams added. "You know, with the kung fu grip."