Sack It, Stuff It, Stack It, Express It! Got it?
No, this is not Allison’s Written Words’ way of ridding itself of readership, but rather, a interestingly-named line of school supplies that made 80s kids too cool for school.
That’s right, it’s a new month, hence, a new theme!
School’s In Session!
That Rubberband Man, he’ll find you!
The month of September, being a month of back to school, needed some nostalgic trips into school. Specifically, needs school supplies. So, four new articles, four different ways of going back to school in style! Forget laptops, tablets, and smart phones – those are way too modern for our very nostalgic back-to-school supply list. We’re focusing on how WE went back to school in the 1980s and 1990s.
Some of what you’ll see this month will have you wanting to go back to school…or not. But it will definitely bring back some memories.
Today, we kick off “Too Cool for School” Month in 1987, with a familiar brand and its venture into the hallowed halls of education. Perhaps you remember today’s school supply lineup?
Sack It, Stuff It, Stack It, Express It!
Class Act was a “high tech” line of school supplies (considered “high tech” in concept, but only one aspect of the school supply line was actually technology-based – more on that shortly) created and manufactured by Worlds of Wonder during their ill-fated year of 1987. Yes, you read that right – Worlds of Wonder – the same company behind Teddy Ruxpin, Grubby, and various other talking dolls of the mid 1980s. They turned away from their high-tech aspirations (well, not totally) to create a line of “high concept” supplies that made going to school…cool.
Seriously, I had to rhyme that.
Each product had its own special name, with the commonality of the word “It” attached to each title.
The Class Act of School Supplies…
What were these products, pray tell?
There were pocket folders (Stash It)…
Butts. So many butts. Because butts and folders are the same thing?
A locker shelving system that Worlds of Wonder called Stack it…or Rack It?
I had something like this during my mid-1990s middle school years. It wasn’t this, but it was the exact same thing, and it worked pretty well. Since I was in my “cool phase” at the start of high school (yep, keep feeding yourself that lie, Allison), I kept my version in my closet at home. It worked well there too.
But wait, there’s more!
There was a heavy-duty binder called Stuff It…
Can you imagine someone asking about this binder, and being told “Stuff It!…no, that’s the name of the binder! Come back! I didn’t tell you to Stuff It!”
And if you need a place to put your Stash It and Stuff It, we have…Sack It!
Sack It was a series of school bags – backpack, tote, and duffel bag, now with the ultra-stylish Acid Wash look that will never go out of style!
Next up, a mini tape recorder (Got It) to check the authenticity of your note, or for the budding school newspaper journalist who needs one of these for interviews. Also known as “the one item in an already rare line of items I can’t find any information on!”
And a – prepare thyself! – a locker answering machine (Express It)!
So serious. A locker answering machine. And the way to make it work was so bizarre, the commercial didn’t even explain how to do it.
I had three minutes to get to my classes in a three-story high school. Sometimes, I had to run from one side of the school to the other and be lucky if I could squeeze in a locker trip at times (figuring things like that out in my youth made me great at managing my time and keeping schedules in adulthood). That tangent said, I never would have time to check my hair and makeup in that time, so having a “locker answering machine” to check in the thirty seconds I probably gave myself to swap out stuff from my backpack and mall walker-style power walk to my next class was completely unrealistic!
And Worlds of Wonder didn’t care to demonstrate it, but decided to show you that you had a social life and needed a tape recorder so people could leave you messages at school. Because you were of the generation for slipping notes into the locker, but you were above that.
Ah, that Worlds of Wonder, with their tape recorder enhanced products.
But, how does it work?
Allow YouTube user Doug McCoy to explain!
Upload via Doug McCoy
And I’m sure this thing never worked quite as well as the commercial made it seem!
Marketing To The Big Kids
While the little ones were enjoying Worlds of Wonder’s talking toy offerings, and the elementary school-age kids were playing with Action Max and Lazer Tag, Worlds of Wonder marketed “Class Act” to the junior high/high school crowd. Because they ate up pocket folders decorated with acid wash-clad butts, binders called “Stuff It,” and answering machines for your locker.
The commercials were very 1980s high school, DeGrassi/21 Jump Street/MTV style, which was bold for Worlds of Wonder, who often featured cutesy plots about Teddy Ruxpin being the experiment of a mad scientist, Pamela the Living Doll being given to her creator’s adorable granddaughter, and kids having a birthday party for Teddy Ruxpin so they could present him with his friend, Grubby.
They freakin’ wrapped Grubby in wrapping paper in a commercial!
And as for that neon sign logo…
It has teen sitcom feel all over it. Even the music and the sting used at the very end of the commercial gives off that feel.
As for its success…
(Insert Obligatory “This Is What Happened To Worlds of Wonder” Story Here)
Like other Worlds of Wonder products that had hit it big during the mid-1980s, this product line hit a snag with the Stock Market Crash on October 19, 1987 (by all means, something to associate with my fifth birthday!), and the line lost sales, leading to the end of its production, and cancellation of any future Class Act products.
I will say though, aside from the locker answering machine, a line of school supplies – excuse me, decent looking school supplies – had potential to stand out among Teddy Ruxpin and animatronic talking dolls in Worlds of Wonder’s success stories. Where Action Max was a total disappointment, a binder with the unique name “Stuff It” screamed “buy me!”
Oh, and how about those oh-so-1980s, teenage-geared commercials?
Sack It, Stuff It, Stack It, Express It…With Commercials!
Because when you know something exists, you’ll try to hunt down proof. Behold, the joys of YouTube offerings! I am so grateful to people who have cool stuff like this, when I didn’t even know it existed until just recently!
Thank you to TV Mad Man and Doug McCoy for your contributions to the world of obscure product advertising!
Upload via The TV Mad Man
Upload via The TV Madman
Upload via Doug McCoy
By the way, Doug McCoy has even gotten his hands on other products in the Class Act line, and made videos about it!
So The Important Question Remains…
Did I have anything from the Class Act school supply line?
Honestly, until I learned about the fate of Worlds of Wonder about six years ago, I’d never heard of Class Act, nor had I ever seen these products. Even when I’d heard about them initially (while researching Worlds of Wonder on many occasions in the last six years), I’d never thought to look up a line of school supplies from the same company that manufactured talking dolls for young children. I was of the age where playing with Teddy Ruxpin and Action Max were the norm. I wasn’t in school yet, so I had no need for butt-clad pocket folders, hard plastic binders that hold pizza, and locker answering machines. Acid Wash denim bags, perhaps, but definitely not the other supplies.
Which is a shame really, though by the time I was ready for cool school supplies, I was ready for next week’s featured school supplies.
That’s your teaser for next week, folks. Going from obscure supplies that who knows how many people had, to a supply plenty of people had!
So, until then, tell me about your knowledge of Class Act, and have a great day.
Oh, and if you’re going back to school, have a great year. If you’re sending someone back, hope they have a great year.
And watch out for this guy!
I had a few of the Class Act products. The Stuff It binder with that 80s-futuristic design, the Express It locker answering machine that I maybe used one time. Super impractical and also was only useful under the precept that you were popular enough for people to leave you a message between classes. And the Rack It locker shelves, which were truly quite practical.
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As always I learned about something new that I missed the first time around when I read your articles. I was a freshman in 87, so I would have thought I would have heard of this stuff. The locker answering machine is a neat idea, but I’m sure those actuators you need would get lost immediately. The acid wash backpack would have matched my jeans and jean jacket I’m sure. Looking forward to next weeks article.
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Yeah, the impracticalities of the answering machine are just insurmountable in making this even sound great. Acid Wash everything was the norm/standard in the mid 1980s. Im betting everyone assumed that look would be awesome forever!!