Toys Of The 80s: The Top 100 Toys That Dominated Your Childhood
Do you remember the glory days of toys and action figures? Before internet shopping, when you would visit a packed store to spend your pocket money, life was a dream. Wave after wave of amazing figures and toylines came so thick and fast, you just couldn’t keep up with toys of the 80s.
While many people love to chat about forgotten toys and franchises, we want to get down to the nitty-gritty. These figures, playsets, and vehicles changed our fan’s lives and left an indelible imprint. Read on as we countdown 100 to 50 in the greatest toys of the 80s.
100. Speclatron Dethlor
Dethlor is the king of the knockoffs, and definitely deserves his place on the list. Mainly, because everyone had a few dodgy MOTU copies in their collection, and Dethlor rules them all.
The Speclatron range had a unique selling point over other copycat figures. These ones had clear torsos, into which lived liquid and glitter. Glitter for god’s sake!
It may sound crazy and a little bit useless. But it is still better than being Mekaneck.
There have been some crazy MOTU gimmicks on figures, which is part of their appeal. However, Spikor takes it one step further. He is exactly as the name says, one of Skeletor’s henchmen covered in purple spikes, with a firing trident instead of a hand.
That should sound menacing, but it is far from it. In fact, Spikor looks more like a modern art installation. He is more German businessman in an S and M club than an evil warlord.
98. Dino Riders T-Rex
Dino-Riders are living proof that the eighties reigned supreme for toys. Dinosaurs, aliens, and futuristic machinery all combined into an awesome toy. In addition, the cartoon was produced by Marvel entertainment, yet these toys of the 80s still didn’t take off.
If you are having any sort of line associated with Dinosaurs, then a T-Rex is standard fare. This one came with an array of missiles, armour, and guns. The ride of the evil Rulons boss, Krulos, it was a stand-out piece from a line that deserves a relaunch.
97. Gobots Vamp
Poor Gobots. On the losing side of the early eighties transforming vehicle craze, they will forever be known as ‘the toy your aunt bought thinking it was a Transformer’. All this when they actually came first.
If things could not get worse, they are now stuck in toy limbo. They are owned by Hasbro, though they don’t have the rights to the actual toys.
Not all Gobots were that bad though. Vamp is an evil monster Gobot, who transforms into a pretty swift drag racer.
96. M.U.S.C.L.E. The Claw
Based on the Kinnikuman wrestling anime in Japan, M.U.S.C.L.E. were issued as small, figure-like erasers. In the U.S. and Europe, they were made from much harder plastic and came bundled in everything from blister packs to small canisters. There were a whopping 236 of these small, brightly coloured figures.
One of the oddest, and currently commanding a high second-hand price, is the Claw. It is exactly what it purports to be, setting aside the figure shape of most M.U.S.C.L.E. in place of a gnarled, monster-like talon.
95. Madballs Screeming Meemie
Madballs were a series of odd-looking, crazy monster faces placed on, you guessed it, balls. Later lines gave them head-popping, action figure bodies. The oddest monster of all? Screemin Meemie, who was a guy who had a baseball for a head.
94. Zoids Red Horn
If you are going to have a dinosaur-themed line, then after the T-Rex must come the Triceratops. Red Horn was the biomechanical Kaiju answer to Takara Tomy’s robot franchise. With his back cannons and spiked appearance, he is actually our favourite in the line.
93. Clash Of The Titans Kraken
The Clash of the Titans toy line did not do as well as it should have done, considering it was attached to such a fantastic movie. Regardless, one of the most memorable toys was that of its most famous monster, The Kraken.
A weird-looking figure, it seems to have three legs but is actually a long tail with two fins. It also has some pretty stumpy arms that look a little like dog shits. In fact, without the juddering menace of Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion, it does not look scary at all.
Why is it even on the toys of the 80s list? Oh, yea…….
Release the Kraken!
92. Inhumanoids Tendril
Inhumanoids was a short-lived cartoon and toy line, produced by Marvel Entertainment and Hasbro. It followed the adventures of Earth Corps as they fought off Cthulhu-style monsters from the earth’s core.
Tendril is a large, swamp thing-type monster with a hulking frame. This spindly creature has two orange pincers coming from his mouth and bright green colouration. Due to his relative toy obscurity, he is often mistaken for a Star Wars Rancor Monster despite being a totally different colour.
91. Omnibot 2000
In the eighties, Tomy was going crazy with their robot toys. The Omnibot 2000 was the second in its line, and one of the most advanced robot toys of the era. It’s futuristic, but now dated features included digital clocks and tape cassette recorders. They could carry objects and even broadcast speech.
90. Corgi Airport Fire Truck
Produced throughout the late seventies and early eighties, the Corgi fire truck had a lot to offer. Free from the glitz and glamour the Star Wars generation of toys would bring, it was still packed with cool features to spark the imagination.
An electronic siren and working water pump were ideal for rescuing any of your other toys and action figures that lay in distress. That and squirting your little brother in the crotch so it looked like he had pissed.
89. Lego Space Patrol
Lego hit its stride with its toys of the 80s, later with its pirate line, but at first with its spaces sets. By 1983 the run was at its peak with some extremely innovative designs. However, it was the pocket money-priced Space Patrol that many people had in their toy collection.
Lego has always done basic really well, and this was no different. It had thrusters and lights housed on a small triangular Lego base, rounded off with that iconic Lego space man.
88. Indiana Jones Action Figure
For such a huge franchise, you would think that the Indiana Jones toy line had to be a roaring success. In fact, it was an unmitigated disaster. Despite being made by Kenner, late licensing meant that toys were not released until a year after the first movie was in cinemas.
With a measly four figures in the original wave, the toys failed to bring in the revenue they sought. Kenner would later lose the license, though even other companies attempts never truly caught on.
Being a Japanese company, it stands to reason that Tomy would have at least one toy line that ticked every Japanime box imaginable. Robots? Yes! Giant Kaiju? Yes! Dinosaurs? Yes!
Zoids was that toy line, and no one did it better than Zoidzilla. A series of biomechanical lifeforms, they arrived as battery-driven robots on UK shores. While they may have vanished from our island, the model kits have been alive and well in Japan where they still sell and look better than ever.
86. Manta Force Red Venom
Red Venom was the craft of the enemy Viper Squad in the Manta Force universe. Created by the British toys of the 80s company Bluebird, the Manta Force line was a series of tiny vehicles and figures based on a space theme. However, Red Venom was anything but tiny.
A huge, mean-looking craft, it disassembled to produce nine alternate smaller vehicles. It was an amazing toy that provided you with whole lines worth of fun in one big, craft-shaped carry case.
85. Visionaries Cryotek
Everyone loved Holograms in the eighties, so much so that Hasbro produced a whole toy line around them. Visionaries had one series of a cartoon and a mere one wave of figures. The best of these was the awesome Cryotek.
He had a multi-headed ball on chain and could turn into a bear. Despite these killer powers, designers decided to colour his outfit in the same shades as a market stall tracksuit.
84. LJN Hulk Hogan
LJN dropped the ball on a lot of toys, and it was a sheer testament to the character of Hogan that this figure was so popular. Sold as being able to bend into a number of wrestling poses, these toys were pretty static. Luckily, it did come with a cool-looking title.
83. Manta Force
The Manta Force craft was a jewel in the crown and the good guy alternative to the Red Venom craft. A huge starfighter, it opened to produce a wide hangar that housed a number of intergalactic combat vehicles. It may not have looked as good as Red Venom, but its contents made it the must-have toy for space missions.
82. DC Superpowers Superman
Superman ruled supreme in the 80s. Hot off the back of three great movies, DC gave its licensing to toys of the 80s behemoth Kenner. The result was the DC Superpowers line-up, featuring a who’s who of DC heroes and villains, in some of the best superhero figures ever produced.
Superman had everything a kid needed. He could beat any of your other figures up and fly at the speed of sound. So we have no idea why they made him a tie-in car, with large metal fists.
81. Sectaurs Mantys
Most properties in the decade ran with cool, Japanese-style robot designs. Sectaurs went in a totally different direction. Looking like something long lost in the BBC prop cupboard, they had an air of sixties Doctor Who that just didn’t cut it on the toy shelf.
Released in 1985 by Coleco, the Sectaurs were the result of a genetic experiment gone wrong. This led to them having an anthropomorphic bug-like appearance. Despite their zany looks, the figure was actually really detailed and a great piece of design.
80. Silverhawks Quicksilver
Another great cartoon and toys of the 80s line that vanished as quickly as it appeared was Silverhawks. A group of bionic interplanetary heroes who were recruited to fight an alien mob boss. One of the problems may have been that this figure of their field leader, Quicksilver, bore little resemblance to the character in the blistering great cartoon introduction.
79. Tiamat Advanced Dungeons And Dragons
The main criticism fans have of Tiamat is that it does not live up to the awesome box art. This can however be said of many Dungeons and Dragons toys.
Released in 1983, Tiamat is a multi-headed, dragon god. It sounds scary, but the toy looked quite friendly.
Packed with features such as claw grabber legs and flexible wings, it had everything your adventurers could need for the supreme battle. Unfortunately, like many toys of the decade, it was from a great line that did not get the love it deserved.
78. Supernaturals Burnheart
Supernaturals were another great line that just didn’t cut it. Featuring ghostly characters with a gothic, medieval look, they jumped on the holographic craze with spooky chest cavities housing ethereal pictures. They lacked their own cartoon, so this may have held their popularity back somewhat.
Burnheart was the leader of the evil faction and was one mean-looking toy. Looking part LOTR wraith, part S and M club manager, he was a standout figure design in the line-up. Equipped with a boney gun and holographic shield, it beggar’s belief how this line lies quite forgotten.
76. The Movie Batmobile
Everyone has their favourite Batmobile, from the sixties Futura to the modern Tumbler. However, one of the most iconic was the art nouveau concept car that featured in the 89 Batman movie. While there have been many Batmobile toys, none oozed cool as much as this one.
75. Defenders Of The Earth Phantom
Defenders had all the ingredients to be a huge hit. Produced by Marvel productions and Stan Lee, it pulled together a number of heroes from classic golden era comics. With a revamped cartoon and great toy line, it is another shudda wudda cudda.
The toys had one wave in 1986, of which there were as many vehicles as figures. The standout toy was the figure for the iconic Phantom. Oozing golden era charm, it makes you wonder if Defenders would have been more popular if it had been a solo series for the Phantom himself.
Blackstarr was Galoob’s answer to a He-man clone, and for the most part, the figures were pretty good. John Blackstarr was the lead, an astronaut who had crashed on a distant planet.
The cartoon ran for one series and like the toys, was fairly good. However, it could not compete with the toys of the 80s monster that was Masters of the Universe.
73. Infaceables Iron Lion
Galoob’s Infaceables were another pretty cool toys of the 80s concept by the company. A team of mythical heroes and villains, their faces swapped round to become hideous beasts. The leader of the good guys was Iron Lion, though his leadership skills could not stretch to getting them a cartoon and making the toys a hit.
The design team at Mattel must have been on the beer when they designed Stinkor. Possibly the only action figure in history to smell, Stinkor produced a very weird scent indeed. And it wasn’t even bad.
Somewhere between burnt plastic and cheap perfume, it was neither putrid nor pleasant. For many children who had grown up taking their older siblings farts to the face, Stinkor was a breath of fresh air.
71. Bandai Egg Monsters
Everything else transformed in the eighties, so why shouldn’t the original transforming toy, an egg, gets it own toy? These tiny pieces of plastic turned into a number of classic horror and kaiju villains. Frankenstein’s Monster, with his puffed-out shoulders, was a highlight of the run.
70. Takara Kronoform Watch
Takara were responsible for most of the transforming robots that would later be licensed and repurposed as Transformers in the west. However, one item that never became a full-fledged Transformer was Kronoform. This robot wristwatch, and many of his copycats, were on the wrist of many a child in the eighties.
They suffered from a terrible build quality. Being part watch and part toy means not many of them are left, and getting an original one now is very expensive.
69. Tomy Rip Cord Pop Cycle
Cheap, cheerful, and hours of fun, these pop cycles by Tomy could rack up some serious speed. Though never a favourite, they were a staple of any toy box. What could be better than spending a rainy school holiday building a massive ramp from encyclopaedias then letting it rip?
68. Battle Beasts Killer Carp
Battle Beasts were created by the mighty Takara of Japan. Small animals in human forms, they wore battle armour and carried heavy, weaponry. Small, colour-change holograms denoted their factions.
Battle Beasts were very small compared to many figures, and their bright colours made them easy to identify. Killer Carp was from the first wave, and looked as cool as they come with bright purple armour and snow-white, fishy skin. Looking more shark than carp, he is one of the most sought-after beasts.
67. Rancor Monster
Released in 1984 as part of the Return of the Jedi line, the Rancor Monster is a big toy. With its working jaw, it could devour the much smaller figures in the Star Wars line. The best thing was that the sculpt was almost perfect, meaning it looked exactly like its movie counterpart.
66. Dungeons And Dragons Fortress Of Fangs
Dungeons and Dragons was a strange one. With no clear main character or heroine, the line was left to do everything it could to fire up the imagination of the audience. This playset has so many features, it couldn’t fail.
With everything from secret trap doors, to spiked walls and falling hatchets, it had everything needed to put your adventurers into some serious danger. Luckily, the obligatory treasure horde was waiting at the end to help spur them on.
65. Secret Wars Doom Copter
One of a toy lines biggest revenue sources is its vehicles. That means, even if your villains and heroes don’t need a brand new ride, they very often get one anyway. The Secret Wars Doom Copter was one such effort, presumably designed because his Doom Roller from the first wave was too absurd to sell.
64. M.A.S.K. Rhino
Rhino was a highlight of the first wave of M.A.S.K. toys. It was both a playset and a vehicle in one, with a bomb firing command centre and a detachable ATV on the back.
In Germany, the inclusion of a bomb was forbidden and Rhino fired a white television satellite. Presumably, Matt Trakker had heard what was on Saturday Deutsche late-night television and was keen to get a look.
63. Starcom Starmax Bomber
Starcom: US Space Force was the story of a galactic peacekeeping force fighting off an evil, interplanetary empire. While the premise may have been somewhat unimaginative, these toys of the 80s were definitely not.
Small figures used magnetic technology in their bases. Not only did it adhere them to vehicles and playsets, but it could also set off devices in the toys themselves. Elevators could be operated and missiles could be fired by placing the toy in the right place.
The Starmax Bomber was the multipurpose spacecraft used by the group. The toy had a power deploy transforming action, came with one figure, and looked cool as hell.
One fun fact is that the cartoon was distributed by Coca-Cola. The Starcom team disbanded in the late eighties due to the rising rate of diabetes and obesity in its crew.
Simon was an interactive, electronic toy by Milton Bradley. Though it first appeared on shelves in 1978, it had numerous updates in the eighties.
It consists of four coloured, large buttons that would flash in sequence. The player then had to recreate the pattern.
Originally, it had been based on a failed Atari game named Touch Me (As you asked so nicely!). This game had no colour and used harsh, discordant sounds when the sequences were played.
Atari then copied the Simon version with a handheld device, colours, and tones. Essentially, copying a copy of their own game.
61. Tomy Water Games Rodeo
Handheld gaming has had a chequered history. Not all portable systems were a Game Boy or even an Atari Lynx. In fact, some of them did not even need batteries.
Enter Tomy Water Games. Fill them up and use the pressure from one button to glide counters and shapes in a series of games. Our pick goes to the outstanding Rodeo, in which you could spend hours making a cowboy shag his horse.
Stickle Bricks were invented all the way back in 1968. Legend has it, that the phrase “FUCK!” was also invented at the same time when its inventor stood on his own creation while bottle feeding in the night. One of the most dangerous toys of the 80s, but how can you not look at them and remember those halcyon days of nursery school?
Spirograph was another toy that was invented well before the decade but had its heyday in the period. A set of geometric tools, it allowed you to make vortex-like patterns using different colored biros. The joy of it was that very often, they looked really good.
However, for many, it did skirt perilously close to having fun with mathematics.
58. The Fright Zone
In the cartoon series, the Fright Zone was a belching industrial complex, home to the villain Hordak. However, its toy counterpart was extremely different, and totally unique to other MOTU playsets out there. It gave up on being a castle or base, and instead was a rocky outcrop packed with features.
As well as its jail cell and moveable, dead tree, the most fun was the giant puppet. A strange snake made from a washing-up glove material, it was great fun to scoop up your figures and drag them to their doom. Unfortunately, they perished easily, meaning the Fright Zone beast is now quite valuable.
57. A-Team Combat Headquarters
The A-Team line came in two sizes, a larger, He-Man-sized action figure and smaller G.I. Joe types. It was the decision to make the combat headquarters in smaller sizes that made it so popular. You could now mix one of the most popular action shows of the decade with your favourite military toy line.
The great thing about the set is it contains everything you would need for an A-Team adventure. All the main cast are there, along with a host of weapons and accessories for your battles. The combat headquarters was one plan that really did come together.
56. M.A.S.K. Condor
Condor remains one of the most loved M.A.S.K. toys. Its small size meant it was the one most people had in their collection. Its simple transformation from a motorcycle (yea right, it’s a 50cc scooter) to a gyrocopter was fun, and rider Brad Turner had one of the best looking outfits in the series.
55. Boglins Blobkin
Boglins were another concept so out there, they ended up being a work of genius. Rubber puppets designed to look like strange, imp-type creatures each with its own identity. Each one came trapped in its own cage.
Halloween Boglins really upped the ante. Blobkin was the stand-out one in the line, a bright orange Boglin resembling a distorted, wart-filled pumpkin. These toys of the 80s are currently enjoying a modern reissue.
54. Casey Jones
Just when you thought the Turtles could not get any cooler, along came Casey Jones. A hockey mask-wielding, jogging bottom-wearing vigilante who had a penchant for showing off his midriff, this figure should not have been as exciting as it is.
With a golf bag filled with hockey sticks and baseball bats for combat, he almost made you want to pull on your boring uncle’s pringle sweatshirt and take the law into your own hands!
53. Marvel Secret Wars Wolverine
The Marvel Secret Wars line was released to coincide with the comics crossover event. It featured a range of cool figures and villains from the universe and ran for two waves. A number of vehicles were also released to coincide with it.
One of the best figures was the much-loved Wolverine. In some markets, his Snap-On claws were actually made in black so that they did not look too much like knives.
The heroic master of weapons just fails to make the top fifty. Not because of a lack of cool weapons and mental DEVO hat, but because he always had the look of someone’s dad. Oh, he was….
51. Snow Speeder
With so many great vehicles and playsets in the Star Wars line, some of the real gems can often be overlooked. Pound for pound, the 1980 Snow Speeder could be one of the best Star Wars toys ever made. With lights, sound, a tow cable, and landing gears, it would remain almost unchanged throughout its many reissues, updates, and iterations.
You really want the next 50? Then we need you to tell us what they are! Tell us on social media what you top 50 will be!