RING in the New Year: 7 Must-Have Novelty Phones from the 80s

Back in the day, three basic items were needed to transform your bedroom from a kiddie’s playroom into a teenager’s palace: a stereo, a television, and a telephone. And though it was nice to dub mixtapes or play Tecmo Bowl at your discretion, the privacy of your own phone became the greatest amenity as you grew older.

But it wasn’t enough to be able to call your friends or the Nintendo Power Phone when you wanted. Novelty phones are what turned ordinary calls into extraordinary. Those crazy handsets could give that final touch to a themed bedroom or just provide that ridiculously cool item to set your room apart.

Here are 7 novelty phones from the past that will make you wish you hadn’t dropped your landline:

Pac-Man Telephone

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Pac-mania produced a chomping, push-button novelty phone in the early 80s. The trick was to make sure you held it by the top half; otherwise he might chomp your call.


Sports Illustrated Football Phone

I remember a time when the SI football phone was THE phone for sports fans. The only problem was that they weren’t durable. I bet 7 out of 10 football phones were broken within 24 hours from owners doing their best Montana to Rice post route to transfer a call.


See Thru Phone

There is a time in our lives where we all want to know how gadgets actually work. Fortunately for us, there was a stretch where clear became a color option for watches, clock radios, 13” TVs, and of course telephones.


Garfield Telephone

For about a decade, this was the phone to have for Garfield lovers. As a person who adored Garfield and Friends, I really wanted this phone for my room, but I also knew the chance of getting a busy signal at my house would have increase 400% from me waking Garfield all the time.


Neon Phone

A little neon lightened up the mood of any bedroom. The fun part was when your friends called you at night and your room lit up like Christmas.


Mickey Mouse Phone

Mickey Mouse telephones might have changed from rotary to push button to push button handsets over the years, but the fact remained that he was a must own for Disney fans. And you could almost predict that if a person had a Mickey Mouse wristwatch on their arm, one of these phones was in their home as well.

So what novelty phone do I remember having in my room?

Yeah, pretty unspectacular compared to the aforementioned options. I received it as a present for Christmas one year and remember it being a decent phone. The only issue I had with it was bumping the hangup button with my chin which seemed to happen often.

What novelty phone did you have in your room?

Jason Gross (@SockOfFleagulls) is the creator of Rediscover the 80s and loves to subject his two sons to cartoons, TV, movies, and music from the decade. Currently promoting a M.A.S.K. live-action movie script (co-writer), he enjoys freelance writing about 80s music & pop culture.

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