30 Years in 30 Days – 1988
by on January 24, 2016

Hey, it’s time to reminisce about 1988! What interests me most about video games besides the experience, is all the cool (and not so cool) official merchandise that’s released. Stuff like T-shirts, toys, and other collectibles. The late 1980s was when Nintendo really latched onto the popularity of The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros., causing them to make tons and tons of merchandise for those two series. Zelda stuff was usually linked together with Mario stuff, so it wasn’t uncommon to see Link and Mario hanging out on the same piece of merchandise. Here’s a little selection of my favorite Zelda merchandise from 1988.

Bedroom Swag

Something I always loved as a kid were licensed bed sheets and blankets and the like. And what’s more special than a Mario and Zelda bedroom set?! They had everything from sheets and comforters to toy boxes, curtains, and trash cans. Just look at this old advertisement:

bedroomad

That kid is really workin’ those Mario boxer shorts. Mario and Zelda were paired up for the bedroom set, which included a twin bed set, a comforter (sold separately), curtains, and a toy box. Link also had his own trash can. Let’s do a little image spam real quick.

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Mario and Zelda twin bed set and comforter (sold separately).

Mario and Zelda curtains from 1988.

Mario and Zelda toybox.

Mario and Zelda toybox.

trashcanThere was even a trashcan. The brick border was originally red, but it’s faded to pink on about half of the trashcans I see on eBay. I wonder why.

I would have loved to have that entire bedroom set as a kid!

 

I would have loved to have that entire bedroom set as a kid!

 

Nintendo Cereal System

This probably needs no introduction – if you were a kid in the late 1980s, this was the only thing you wanted for breakfast! Nintendo Cereal System came in two flavors: fruit-flavored Mario pieces, and berry-flavored Zelda pieces. The cereal was launched in 1988, but here’s the 1989 commercial for a trip down memory lane:

There were actually a few boxes that featured different artwork from the first two Mario and Zelda games, so you could have had yourself a nice little collection back then. As far as I know, there are four different box variations, but there could have been more!

Clothing

zelda1shirtThere’s no shortage of Zelda shirts these days with numerous t-shirt sites and stores like Hot Topic partnering with Nintendo, but back then, Nintendo shirts were definitely something special that you had to really search for. Here are my two favorites from 1988:

I really like this goofy shirt shown on the right for some reason. Even though it looks like Link is riding a surfboard instead of a raft, that Zora looks pretty awesome, right? The exact origins of this shirt are unknown, though it might have been a promotional item.

zelda2shirt

This shirt is much cooler than the previous one, in my opinion. I like how Link is the focus here, and for some reason they decided to add the Magical Key twice! One for each game, perhaps?

Puzzles and a board game

Aw yeah, it’s time for some Milton Bradley goodness. They released a few Zelda puzzles and even a board game in 1988! I know of two puzzles that were released, but there could have been more. Have a look:

zeldapuzzle1

Legend of Zelda jigsaw puzzle.

zeldapuzzle2

They actually stuck Princess Zelda in the background of the Aquamentus puzzle, though she looks pretty creepy to me. Why does she act so cheerfully as she watches Link fight a fire-breathing beast? And I suppose Ganon forgot to lock the door, because she’s not supposed to be anywhere near Aquamentus! Okay, I’m looking too deeply into a child’s toy; let’s move on.

Here’s the board game:

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The Legend of Zelda board game by Milton Bradley was released in 1988.

I’ve never played it myself, but the premise of the game is to explore Hyrule, uncover treasure, and fight enemies.

And that’s my personal favorites list of Zelda merchandise from 1988! Nintendo really stepped up production of Zelda and Mario merchandise in 1989 with stuff like school supplies, a silly Halloween costume featuring a creepy mask of Link’s face, and little toys and trinkets.

Heidi Mandelin
Heidi Mandelin works at Fangamer. She and her husband recently released a book detailing the localization of the first Legend of Zelda game. You can buy it here.
  • Shona

    I really wish that I could have tried the Nintendo cereal.

  • Josh

    I remember the cereal, but that board game is a blast from the past. I forgot that thing even existed! A friend of mine had it, although I don’t remember understanding how to play it at the time. I do remember loving the box art! There was a Mario board game that was similar that I really liked as well.