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10 greatest Nineteen Eighties toys: from Transformers to Care Bears

In a decade of extra, the toy panorama was additionally revolutionised. From Zoids to My Little Pony, playtime would by no means be the identical once more

Picture credit score:

Within the Nineteen Eighties, house computer systems had rubber keys, 98 per cent of all music was composed on a single synthesiser in a dingy London studio, and there have been solely 4 UK TV channels. However the toys had been sensible. At Stuff HQ, we racked our brains to give you an inventory of the perfect Nineteen Eighties toys.

A fast observe, Star Wars and Massive Trak followers — these toys had been Seventies traces, so didn’t make the lower. Teddy Ruxpin, however, was omitted as a result of he was garbage. However do you in any other case disagree with our checklist? Be at liberty to say so within the feedback whereas lobbing rose-tinted specs by our workplace home windows.

Our choose of the perfect Nineteen Eighties toy traces

1. Transformers (First look: 1984)

Mother and father thought they had been intelligent when shopping for ‘robots in disguise’. Two toys for the value of 1! Robots that become vehicles, fighter jets and likewise surprisingly giant cassettes, hinting at a really slight drawback with scale!

Youngsters didn’t care — they had been busy having robots punch one another within the face, solely often questioning why Heroic Autobot chief Optimus Prime was so bloody earnest within the cartoon and vulnerable to killing himself within the comedian.


Finally, Transformers succumbed to silly gimmicks, disappearing up its personal bottom with a line of non-transforming Transformers. However the idea lived on, repeatedly relaunched till Michael Bay found it, creating the costliest and explosive toy commercials in historical past for the massive display screen.

Picture credit score: Rob Boudon

2. Zoids (First look: 1982)

Zoids mixed a Japanese penchant for mecha with a childhood fascination for all issues beasts, dinosaurs and development. Basically miniature Ikea robots, Zoids within the palms of a fairly adept baby would quickly remodel from flat-pack plastic package to motorised offended factor, solely often getting snared on the carpet like a confused Ray Harryhausen creation. Within the UK, there was even a comic book, detailing exactly why terrifying mechanical Triceratops Redhorn the Horrible needed to intestine Mammoth the Destroyer.

3. Lego: Gentle & Sound (First look: 1986)

Lego hit many peaks within the Nineteen Eighties — mini-figures may match inside automobiles, the City theme was massively expansive, and there wasn’t any obvious gender divide. Oh, and there have been flashing lights and WEE-OOO-WEE-OOO noises, which was equally vital.

Sure, gentle and sound got here to Lego within the cunningly named Gentle & Sound System, amusing babies and scaring the residing daylights out of pets. The road petered out within the late Nineteen Nineties, presumably as a result of youngsters had been now not impressed by a tinny speaker and a few flashing bulbs.

4. My Little Pony (First look: 1983)

Though initially two plastic creations (‘My Fairly Pony’), My Little Pony is best-known for the following vinyl characters. Nearly devoid of articulation, the road nonetheless sank its hooves in, by that foolproof mixture of cute and collectable, this time with added hair-brushing.

My Little Pony

Solely six ponies had been initially launched, however the line quickly grew, including seated ponies, Unicorn and Pegasus ponies, seahorse-like sea ponies, cuddly ‘gentle’ ponies, and ultimately ‘Massive Brother’ ponies, which in actuality had been only a bit greater and never in reality enigmatic dictator ponies. Extra just lately, the road’s been rebooted with creepy anthropomorphised variations of basic characters. No, we do not know why both.

Picture credit score: Katie Brady

5. Cabbage Patch Youngsters (First look: 1982)

The story behind the Cabbage Patch Youngsters — 16-inch-high dolls with plastic heads, material our bodies and sinister eyes — includes a boy being led by a BunnyBee (a sort-of bee with rabbit ears) behind a waterfall and thru a tunnel to a land the place a cabbage patch grew kids that wanted homing. Naturally, then, each child needed to undertake one of many issues, resulting in fights in toy retailers in the course of the 1983 vacation season, dad and mom determined to safe one of many gurning infants for their very own (probably gurning) infants.

6. Motion Power/G.I. Joe (First look: 1985 — type of)

Star Wars mercilessly swept away the previous guard. G.I. Joe (Motion Man within the UK) had soldiered (ha!) on because the Sixties, offering dolls with weapons for offended younger boys, full with giant and clunky equipment. Then got here George Lucas’s merchandising savvy, leading to small, various figures, spaceships and Wookiees. No contest.

G.I. Joe

In case you can’t beat ’em, be a part of ’em. G.I. Joe morphed into an action-figure line very like the Star Wars one, however with higher articulation. Cunningly, a narrative was additionally added, with G.I. Joe turning into a counter-terrorism power battling the evil Cobra. (Motion Power took some time to catch up, struggling extra reboots than a Superman franchise earlier than lastly matching the US outfit.)

Picture credit score: Denny Deluxe

7. Masters of the Universe (First look: 1982)

In hindsight, there’s one thing odd about Masters of the Universe, the place suspiciously muscle-bound males run concerning the place in furry pants, hitting each-other with swords. However with spring-based action-punches and a various array of characters within the toy line, heroic He-Man, hapless evil Skeletor, and their numerous comrades, captured the creativeness of numerous kids.

Masters of the Universe

If something, although, the road aimed toward women of the day, She-Ra: Princess of Energy, was superior. It ambitiously aimed to gel Barbie with He-Man’s fantasy world, however positioned the heroes in a subversive underdog function, battling a tyrannical despot, Hordak.

Picture credit score: semihundido

8. Care Bears (First look: 1982)

Contemplating that they began life as illustrations on greeting playing cards, Care Bears have had a significantly good innings, and nonetheless exist right now. The important thing early on was in giving every of the bears distinct colors and logos that signified a singular persona. So there was dour Grumpy Bear, with a cloud on his stomach, the yellow Funshine Bear with a grinning solar on her intestine, and irritatingly perky Cheer Bear, pink with a rainbow emblem.

Care Bears

Refreshes and films expanded the line-up, though we by no means did fairly get so far as Ex-Celeb Bear, with matted gray fur and a consuming drawback.

Picture: John Trainor

9. Micro Machines (First look: 1986)

Gimmicks had been key within the Nineteen Eighties, and toy vehicles had been wanting a bit previous hat. In the event that they didn’t remodel into one thing else, what was the purpose? Micro Machines bucked the development. The essential thought: take toy automobiles, make them absurdly small, reasonably priced and collectable, and create little playsets that themselves had been pocketable. Genius. Amusingly, even Micro Machines caught the reworking bug in the course of the Nineteen Nineties, albeit with playsets morphing between two types.

10. M.A.S.Okay. (First look: 1986)

You’ll be able to think about the boardroom assembly that birthed M.A.S.Okay. (Cell Armo(u)purple Strike, er, ‘Kommand’): “Hey, youngsters like Transformers, proper? Youngsters like Motion Power/G.I. Joe, proper? ARE YOU THINKING WHAT I’M THINKING?”


The end result: a toy line reeking of focus group, however youngsters cherished it. Motion figures may drive round in automobiles earlier than — SPROING! — hey, look, it’s now a factor with weapons! We reckon 95 per cent of the cool and craving was actually right down to Matt Trakker’s ‘Thunderhawk’ Camaro that changed into a fighter jet (i.e. the swing doorways went up, turning into wings, concurrently thumbing a nostril at well being and security); it definitely wasn’t right down to the ‘Rhino’ tractor trailer’s ‘cell defence unit’ mode, which was considerably much less spectacular then Optimus Prime’s transformation.

Picture credit score: Russell Warner

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