Why are the games of the 1980s and 1990s making a comeback?

HeroQuest, Dungeons and Dragons, Musclor and Goldorak… A time traveler from the 1980s and 1990s would not be out of place landing in a games and toys department today. It must be said that journalists are working to bring back, sometimes from the dead, licenses that were successful more than 30 years ago. Even the fictional game Jumanji, made famous by the 1995 film starring Robin Williams, was given a cardboard and plastic adaptation. Far from being a coincidence, this fun fever associated with the last decades of the 20th century was closely followed by companies that found the root.

Children are becoming big consumers

“The re-release of old packs is long overdue, especially for the universe star wars, and it comes from the real needs of consumers”said Pierre-François Periquet, communications manager at Hasbro France. “For board games, this is a more recent phenomenon, but again it is a request from customers, provided that the treatment of the new product is identical to the original or better. » This is usually the fate of myth HeroQuestwhich disappeared from the stores after the year 2000 and is now back thanks to the mobilization of American fans who responded to the crowdfunding launched by Hasbro in 2020.

A new animation series is coming to accompany the return to shelves of Mattel figurines from masters of the universe.

“The crowdfunding was completed in less than 15 days, with all stages reaching very quickly and 3 million euros collected for a million goalsPierre-François Periquet recalled. There was clearly a fascination with this product that marked a generation, so we thought it would be a shame to limit access to it in the United States. » Result: lucky little ones will find this cult game under the Christmas tree in 2022. Finally, the “little ones” who are not so “little” as before, because the main clients of these products play the nostalgia card completely remain children. .. but those of the 1980s, which have grown since then.

By investigating salons, Pierre-François Periquet was able to create a sociological profile of these consumers: “Forty-somethings or thirty-somethings who enter the labor market, who are separated from their children’s rooms or are disappointed by the lack of some toys, little ones. » Among them, he distinguishes two types of individuals: “Those who played these games as children, who keep memories of them shared with family or friends and for whom these products are Proust madeleines. They represent a great amount of our sale. »

Some vintage games are making a comeback and others, such as Who is this ?never goes out of fashion.©Hasbro

And then there is “hardcore fans, who have a very detailed knowledge of the products they collect”. Romain Cheval is part of this second category, which counts in the entertainment market. “Even if we represent something like 2-3% of volume sales, we can represent up to 8 to 10% of turnover. So, inevitably, manufacturers offer us products that a little more premium, a little more expensive than our time and this phenomenon is more than simple nostalgia. »

Bearded men and nostalgic parents

In fact, when he launched Arkéo Toys, his YouTube channel dedicated to old games and toys, he was surprised to gather 74,000 subscribers with different profiles, gathered around this playful passion. “It’s really a global movementhe said, almost marveling at himself at this feat. I didn’t expect, on a channel that was all about toys, that my subscribers included girls, kids now and not just bearded guys with glasses like me. »

It must be said that the question transcends genres and generations. ” They are mirror objects, which resemble us, or have been part of our lives. It could be a small model airplane on a big boss’s desk or Funko Pops on a teenager’s desk. These are the things we seek to find, to share, because they are parts of us. » An opinion shared by Lionel Siero, a fan of transformers, Saint Seya and other licenses since the 1980s.


Arkéo Toys’ recent documentary in the Hasbro archive testifies to the importance of games and toys for all generations, from the children who play them to the adults who make them.

From Ecuador, where the fan of Mysterious Cities of Gold, he participates in the life of communities of collectors based in Europe and in America. Wherever they are, these men and women start buying these products because “They all have an important memory attached to that game or that toy. For example, I have a Peruvian friend who collects Transformers, because his father, who traveled a lot in the 1980s, brought him from another country when it was not in Peru. » And then, of course, for all forty and thirty, apart from nostalgia, “Another trigger for buying is having children”.

Romain Cheval laughs: “Usually you need an excuse when you are an adult to buy a small childhood souvenir or a big castle. But many parents have had fun building Lego or playing with Playmobil because they had children. companies this phenomenon and, when Lego offers, for example, a ship star trekthey obviously don’t focus on the younger generation…”

GI Joe, Jurassic Park… There were so many licenses that thrilled kids in the 1980s and 1990s.©ArkéoToys, Hasbro

Lionel Siero, he did not fall for the company in small bricks, but for the famous HeroQuestfound a few years ago after a long search on Ebay. “I miss this game and want to introduce it to my kids”, he explains. For Philippe, his eldest son, it was a revelation: “I do not know what that is HeroQuest, but when we first played it, it was great! It’s the same fun as in a video game, but in real life. We played a few more games as a family, then I invited some friends over and we stayed for three or four hours playing it. At the end, they all told me: it’s great! Why don’t we have that now? » But that’s because you had to be born in the 1980s, kids!

The 1980s, a fake golden age?

According to Lionel Siero, this season was blessed by the gods and game makers. “I think that between 1975 and 1995, we lived in a golden age of games and toys, because it was also a time when there weren’t many video games in living rooms. » In those days, an afternoon with friends was spent not in front of the latest PlayStation, but around a table, with figurines, pawns and dice. So this may explain the attachment of adults from these generations to the games of their childhood.

Dungeons and Dragons didn’t wait Stranger Things to try to attract new players to a TV series. But we have to believe that Dorothée is less convincing than the soundtrack of the Netflix series …

But there is also another reason, less sentimental: “Not knowing much, we are in a way the guinea pigs of different toy brands. » This is how Romain Cheval sees things. After conducting his investigation, he realized that the 1980s had something very special, but from a legal perspective: “All toy commercials related to cartoons or children’s shows were banned by Jimmy Carter in the United States in 1974. But when Reagan came in the early 1980s, there was a total paradigm shift. He turned it around , and so we had a lot of cartoons linked to brands and financed by toy makers. »

First of all Strawberry Charlotte, then Musclor, then the machine was brought to offer children more audiovisual content narrating the adventures of their favorite figurines or taking place in the world of their favorite games. Through the excellent series punches and derivative products, “Companies have come a long way with their product placement logic, but, finally, at the end of the 1990s, the fear of video games pushed the Clinton administration to roll back some barriers so that the gaming world was somewhat more ethical. » End of recess.

It doesn’t have Demogorgons and a Netflix logo, but the young heroes of Stranger Things may very well appear in this advertisement for HeroQuest.

However, these industrial experiments left their mark. Now, if you meet an adult in the children’s department with a box of Labyrinth under his arm, a Ninja Turtle in his hand and a Power Rangers mask on his head, you won’t hear him complaining about being used as a guinea pig. Instead, it will tell you about the mythical golden age of the 1980s.

But in reality, returning after several decades in the same department, you will have a good chance to see his daughter full of Bakugan, Gormiti or Pat Patrouille products, boasting to you about the blessed time of the people 2000-2010.

Pierre-François Periquet is willing to bet on it: “It can work for all licenses, because what you share as a child, in your room or with your friends, you keep for life. Regardless of generation, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t speak with eyes that shining from the toys of their childhood. »

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