Top 5 Most Awesome Toys from the ’80s

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When you get all nostalgic and reflect back on the “good old days,” you likely are recalling those important years of childhood—more specifically around the time you were 10 or 11. If you were born in the ’70s, then the good old days for you were a period where toy store aisles were stocked with groundbreaking toys and games. From plush to plastic and from talking to transforming, the 1980s beheld some of the most memorable, most awesome toys of all time.

5 Care Bears

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In this decade were born many cuddly toys: Popples, Glo worms, Wuzzies and a certain doll that caused feuds between adults during the 1985 Christmas season—Cabbage Patch Kids. For this list, though, we’ve chosen to highlight the Care Bears, from the land of Care-a-Lot. These plush dolls of the Ursus variety had tummies featuring a range of emotions—perhaps an early indication that emoticons would be huge! Characters included Cheer Bear, Tenderheart Bear, Bedtime Bear, Wish Bear and even Grumpy Bear. What you might not know is that these smiley characters weren’t even dolls at first—they began in 1981 as two-dimensional characters in greeting cards. Soon after the launch of the toy in 1983 came books, animated movies, a television series and a spin-off line called the Care Bear Cousin, including Braveheart Lion and Lotsa Heart Elephant.

4 Nintendo Entertainment System

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Nintendo Entertainment System revolutionized the gaming industry. NES launched in Japan in the early ’80s and was released in United States in 1985. What made NES different was that it wasn’t marketed as a “game console” but rather an entertainment system. The system came with a console, controllers, a gun, a few games and, only in the very early days, a robot. Duck Hunt, Donkey Kong and Hogan’s Alley were original games, but perhaps most recognizable is Super Mario Brothers—Mario and Luigi have since been the stars of dozens of spin-off games and even television shows and cartoons.

3 Transformers

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Released by Hasbro in 1984 and adapted from two Japanese toys, Transformers are, as the slogan goes, “More than meets the eye…Robots in disguise.” Kids with even the most minor manual dexterity could transform these magical alien creatures into vehicles or other electronic items. For example, Optimus Prime turned into a red big rig. The toys were such a hit that Transformers comic books hit shelves and a cartoon hit the airwaves. Still today, the Transformers franchise is wildly popular with movies and new action figures introducing the popular toy to new generations.

2 Teddy Ruxpin

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“Hi, I’m Teddy Ruxpin. Can we be friends?” asked the furry little storyteller in his commercials. This talking teddy bear came to life as a tape was inserted into a cassette player in its back. Children could read along with an illustrated storybook, making Teddy time an educational and entertaining experience. Released in 1985, Teddy Ruxpin used the same animatronic technology used to make lifelike creatures at Disney World talk. Children of the ’80s who now have their own kids or grandkids might be happy to know that Teddy is back and has gone digital.

1 Rubik’s Cube

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This multicolored cube has become an iconic ’80s image. As its slogan touted, the game had more than 3 billion combinations, but just one solution. While many ’80s toys allowed for group play and imagination games, the Rubik’s Cube was more of an independent toy, and one that wasn’t just for kids. Children, parents and grandparents alike twisted and turned the cube to match up the colors. Perhaps you won a time or two, or maybe you gave up, like other frustrated players, and peeled off and re-stuck the colored stickers to make it appear that you beat Rubik!

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Since 2000 Donna T. Beerman has contributed to newspapers and magazines. Her expertise includes higher education, marketing and social media, and her presentations and writing have won industry awards. She has an MFA in creative writing, is the integrated marketing manager at a Pennsylvania college and founded "Hippocampus Magazine."

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