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Vintage 1980s Glo Worm Plush Toys: What Are They and Why Did Kids Love Them So Much?

Glo Worms were a 1980s toy popular with babies, toddlers, and kids. These adorable plushes are still sought after today. Here's all about them.
Vintage 1980s Glo Worm Plush Toys

If you grew up in the 190s or 1990s, you are probably familiar with these stuffed plushes. We’re, of course, talking about the Glo Worm, a Hasbro’s Playskool toy that had a worm body and a light-up head. When you took this plush with you to sleep, you could squeeze its body, and the battery would activate the light. Then, a peaceful slumber was guaranteed! 

The original Glo Worm plush toy was released in 1982 and it became an instant success (so much so, that I remember having one whole growing up in Argentina – where toys were usually few and costly). The first version was the familiar green Glo Worm with the yellow head, but Hasbro saw the great numbers as the perfect opportunity to create more toys for the Glo Worm line. 

In this article, I will show you everything you need to know about Glo Worms, from how they were conceived to their rising popularity and the versions of the toy that followed us up to even this day! So, let’s get started, shall we?

Want to go shopping? Go to our Glo Worm merch page to see all the available products inspired by this vintage toy line. 

The First Glo Worm Toys

The first ever Glo Worm plush was manufactured in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The brand behind the successful toy was Hasbro, and the worm was designed by the Playskool division. 

So, what animal is the Glo Worm supposed to represent? The agreement seems to be: A larva. Yep, you read that right. A larva in pajamas. Of course, glow worms are also an inspiration for this toy’s design, but they are not the cuddly green soft toy you might imagine. Glow worms are, in fact, beetles. They do have bioluminescent bodies, so Hasbro got that right. The purpose of the light? To attract mates. So, yeah, not the same thing!

How Did the Glo Worm Toy Work?

The mechanism behind the Glo Worm’s success was quite straightforward.

The worm body had a battery-powered device (did you open your Glo Worm? I did mine, of course, and broke it!). When you squeezed this device, the toy would light up the vinyl head, which had a lamp inside. The resulting glow was warm and comforting, the reason why so many kids have incredible memories of this lovely vintage toy. 

When Did Hasbro Stop Selling Glo Worms?

Unfortunately, Hasbro had to stop the production of the Glo Worm and the Music Glo Worm line in 2005. The reason was that the products were seen then as potentially harming for children. In particular, because the head vinyl contained something called phthalates, or phthalate esters. This is a plasticizer that can be dangerous if ingested. Hence, the toy line was discontinued. 

Hasbro's Glo Worm Line and Related Toys

Hasbro and Playskool quickly saw that Glo Worm had the potential to boost the company, so they immediately jumped at the chance to expand the line. 

The toy that followed the original worm was the Musical Glo Worm, which included various merchandise such as night lights, storybooks, videos, and other products. These actually continued well into the 1990s.

In 1986, several other items were created and sold by Hasbro and Playskool. These were typically called “Glo-” something and were usually made of vinyl. Most of them, however, did not glow like the original worm. The toys received the name Glo Friends, and were made popular in particular because they were distributed by the fast-food chain Wendy through the late 1980s. 

In 1989, Wendy also released 13 soft vinyl Glo Worm toys (they were Glo Snugbug, Glo Cricket, Glo Snail, Glo Butterfly, Glo Grannybug, Glo Clutterbug, Glo Doodlebug, Glo Bug, Glo Bashfulbug,  Glo Skunkbug, Glo Bookbug, Glo Bopbug, Glo worm, and Glo Nikkibug). There were also a few other characters, including the Glo Turtle which was a case you could use to carry your toys. 

Find Original Vintage Glo Worm Merch and Gifts

Luckily, many kids that loved their Glo Worms have kept them in excellent condition, so it’s still possible to find playsets and toys today. Below, you will find the original vintage toys; you can click on them to read more about each and find a link to try and locate some of this merch second hand. 

Vintage games and toys have a special place in many people’s hearts, bringing back memories of childhood playtime and simpler times. In this series of related articles, you’ll be able to explore the world of vintage games and toys, delving into the history of our most beloved classics, such as My Little Pony, G.I.Joe, Polly Pocket, Masters of the Universe, and much more.