If you were born in the late 1970s or early 1980s – then you had a magical childhood. Toys were just beginning to incorporate technology and the world seemed limitless. Screens lit up, action figures moved and talked, and the entertainment value has never been higher. If you were a child of the 1980s, then you definitely played with one of these toys you’re about to see.
Magic 8 Ball
A simple yet endlessly imaginative 1980s toy – the Magic 8 Ball predicated the future! Well, it at least told you what you wanted to hear after a few shakes. Maybe it was a ‘YES’ or maybe it was a ‘I HAVE MY DOUBTS’ – but it was always fun. You remember the nights spent asking the Magic 8 Ball if your crush liked you back. We all do. This is a great first toy to kick off this awesome trip down nostalgia lane. Enjoy remembering the rest of these!
When Hasbro mass-produced the Pogoball in the mid-80s, it quickly became a fad. It was sold at all Toys ‘R’ Us outlets, and every kid wanted to have one to bounce on. Bouncing on a Pogoball gave you release, it gave you exhilaration, and most importantly, it gave you fun. However, it could also give you pain. Remember the pain of bouncing on one of these on uneven ground?
With the View-Master you could leave your room to go on idyllic adventures in the most remarkable of places. You could see the moon landing, visit the Louvre, have a picnic with a Yogi Bear, and even have breakfast with Winnie The Pooh. You could experience all of this without even leaving the comfort of your room, and you could do it in real 3D. It doesn’t get much more real than that.
Mr. Potato Head
The iconic Mr. Potato Head was immortalized in the Toy Story movie franchise by the toy, Mr. Potato Head. However, even without this tribute to the iconic 80s toy, 80s kids will find it hard to forget the close-knit family of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. For many kids, Mr. Potato Head was the first evidence that they could create something, and what an iconic one it turned out to be.
Speak and Spell
The 80s was a magical time for kids as it saw the first toys that incorporated technology. One of these toys was Speak and Spell, the first educational toy designed to help children spell commonly misspelt words. Educational toys are not usually popular for obvious reasons but Speak and Spell was a clear outlier. It was fun to play alone and even with friends. What’s more? You often learnt something.
Who can forget big wheels and the knee shavings that came with it? It was the perfect bike for every little kid who wanted to play grownup. It made you feel on top of the world. In fact, it got some older kids red in the face with jealousy. What’s better than riding a bike past some older kid who was too big to ride one?
Before Bumblebee came to the cinemas, there were the transformers— a group of toys that were badass in every imaginable sense. They were like soldier toys, but were more sophisticated, more dangerous (in the sense of toys, of course) and infinitely better looking. The fact that the toys could be shifted to fit the shape of a car and that of a battle-ready warrior made it even more attractive to kids. And boy, it was popular.
If someone in the 80s had told you that your Walkman would be replaced with a mobile phone, you would have probably scoffed. That’s because the Walkman was the singular most important device for teens who were interested in listening to the best music. Even today, seeing a picture of it brings a wave of nostalgia across people who used to own one.
It seems that a lot of toys have made the cross over from being toys to being actual blockbuster movies, right? The tiny smurf figurines that became popular as a result of the cartoon series are probably one of those toys that you just had because you loved the cartoon. It was basically a figurine, but do you remember how fiercely you loved them? Exactly.
Atari Gaming System
The Ps5 recently got released, but if you’re old enough you’d know that there would be no Ps5 without the Atari Gaming system. This system was the first to popularize the use of joysticks and cartridges, and it soon took over many households. Remember playing Space invaders on this game? Exactly. What a time, what a game.
Nintendo Game Boy
The Game Boy is probably one of the most iconic game consoles in the world. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a console with more influence on 80s culture than the Gameboy by Nintendo. It was every boy’s companion, and kids who didn’t have one sulked until their parents gave in. It was simply happiness in black and white.
Star Wars Figurines
If you’re an 80s kid and didn’t like star wars. . .you probably weren’t an 80s kid. You’re probably an imposter from some planet somewhere in the galaxy. These figurines were treasured collectables, and every kid simply wanted to hold one and have mock fights with them. Of course, they weren’t the most beautiful looking, but did we care? Not really.
Skip it was a small ankle hoop toy that both kids and parents loved (and that’s a very rare combination, I can tell you that for sure). It became very popular due to TV commercials on children’s network, and it caught on quickly. Soon every girl on the block had one, and while it didn’t have the staying power of other toys, it was still incredibly popular in the 80s.
Big Yellow Teapot
You’ve definitely seen this one before, and if you haven’t, well— what teapot have you been hiding it? The Big Yellow Teapot was basically the kitchen equivalent (what does that even mean? No one knows, but it sounds so right in this context) of the dollhouse. While a lot of boys didn’t fancy it, a lot of girls did and it was a huge part of their childhoods.
Imagine this. A class of 16 to 20 students. It’s lunch break, and you’re the only one with a pocket Etch A Sketch, the coolest toy in half a mile radius. Imagine how popular you would be for that break. This game made Leonardo Da Vinci out of ten-year-olds and was the first hunting grounds for some of the greatest American artists of today. However, it was also a way for kids to draw pretty ridiculous things.
Today, Teddy Ruxpin would be a pretty normal toy. I mean, who would freak out over a teddy that had eyes and mouth that could move while reading stories played on an audiotape cassette deck built into its back? No one. But the 80s were a different time. The teddy took the market by storm and became extremely popular in a very short while.
This is probably the first toy that tells you about how weird kids in the 80s were, generally (although I suspect the popularity of Mr and Mrs Potato Head may have told you that too). The Monchhichi toys, a line of Japanese stuffed monkeys, would be the stuff of nightmares today. However, in the 80s they were the subject of kids loud screams of want. It probably helps to know that the toys were made popular by an anime during that period. If they were a part of your childhood, can you still remember why you really wanted to have one?
Who doesn’t love adorable dogs with floppy ears and eyes that gave you eternal puppy eyes? Importantly, these adorable bundles of stuffed joy came with an adoption certificate and a name tag. They were an easy way to give children pets without actually, you know, giving them pets. And they were a great way for children to keep pets without actually, you know, keeping one. It was a win-win for both children and parents.
Micro machines were one of the most insanely popular toys of the 80s. The brand had many different micros of all kinds of cars. Emergency vehicles, tanks, boats, planes, and even helicopters— micro machines had them all. And kids absolutely loved playing with them. If you had a bunch of these toys at home, you were certain to have at least a couple of friends. And if you didn’t, well, you may have to be extra likeable.
In today’s world, we have apps that exist to test our memory and our cognitive abilities. In the 80s, we had Simon, an electronic game of memory skill. The toy tested your mind and even threatened to drive you to the limit of your mental abilities. But kids still loved it, and it was a glorious way to pass time. (Even no one actually beat the game)
Fisher-Price Little People/Farm
If you lived in the suburbs or a rural community, you’ll most likely have idealistic ideas of farm life as a kid. And kids with such ideas were exactly who this toy was made for. You could run your own farm, have your own shed and even have a couple of farm animals to play with. You could be a farmer in everything but action, and if you had a great imagination, you were sure to have a swell time.
Water Ring Toss
It really doesn’t get more 80s than the water ring toss, does it? Many 80s kids spent hours obsessing over this game that in fact mostly required luck. That’s right. We were using effort to try to win a game that mostly required luck. But we enjoyed it, didn’t we? Some of us even managed to place all the rings on the pillars!
The Farmer Says
This toy was for younger children, and if you didn’t get one you’re probably too old to remember that you got one (or you really didn’t get one). It helped children learn the noises different animals made, and it often helped to keep toddlers and little kids preoccupied. Perhaps that’s exactly why their parents bought the toy in the first place.
From the TV, this toy may look like a technological marvel (to kids in the 80s, that is), and that’s probably one of the reasons why it became so popular. Lite Brite was a game that allowed you to make beautiful glowing pictures by punching multi-colored translucent plastic pegs through opaque black paper. It was the most sought after toy for most kids under the age of 11, and it no doubt takes you back to memories of your childhood.
You just know that artistic kid around the block or in school who had a color forms set and played with it. Granted, it wasn’t exactly the boys’ boy toy, but it was pretty popular too. They were good for storytelling and designs and were able to capture rather accurately the imagination of children. That’s something you do not see every day.
Fisher-Price Medical Kit
What’s a toy list without doctor toys? In the 80s, almost everyone wanted to a doctor. Okay, not everyone. Not even almost everyone. But doctor Wannabees were so many that the Fisher-Price Medical Kit became extremely popular. Today, many of those kids aren’t doctors, but they’ll probably never forget playing at being doctors with the Fisher-Price Medical Kit.
Easy Bake Oven
Today, the easy bake oven would be a health hazard or something of the sort. In fact, it has recently been discontinued because of a federal government regulation that banned the heating element, a light bulb, from toys. However, in the 80s it was much loved and extremely popular. The light bulb’s energy inefficiency made sure that it was perfect for cooking up tiny cakes and cookies, and kids absolutely loved it.
Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine
This toy was sort of an enigma for most people. Well, not really enigma. It was just a tad complex. It wasn’t a toy that older children were in love with, but it needed the arm and strength of an older kid to actually work. In any case, the Snoppy Sno Cone Machine was a tasty treat maker that very few 80s kids will forget in a hurry. I mean, how can you forget something that literally makes ice-cold sweet Sno cones for you.
We really didn’t know that we were playing with our future phones, right? I don’t think we did. This handheld electronic game combined tech and towns in a way that was probably unprecedented. The electronic wizard, as the game was called, was one of the highest-selling games of its era, and you cannot truly be an 80s person without knowing of it.
Handheld Football Game
Just like the Merlin before it, this handheld football game was always going to be popular for all of the right reasons. First, it was a game on sports, secondly it was portable and could be held easily, and third it was electronic. It was the perfect game for kids who were huge football fans, and if you were one you’d probably remember this game.
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
What’s better than two wrestlers fighting in a ring? Two robots fighting in a ring. And that’s exactly what this game is all about. The two-player action of the game brought out your competitive nature as you sort to knock the head off your opponents’ robot. If you’re an 80s person you’d know that the game made a lot of friendships, and probably destroyed many as well.
Kids love drawing, but most times their drawings and designs are just a little off. And that’s where Spirograph comes in. The game helped tons of kids create stunning new designs— sometimes two at the same time. While the Spirograph of today may have upgraded (and sadly stopped being as popular), 80s kids know that the first Spirograph was the best Spirograph.
Cabbage Patch Kids
Getting a cabbage patch doll in the 80s was usually a matter of parents thinking, sticks of stones may break my bones, but gifting little Jimmy a cabbage patch doll will make him give me rest of mind. These toys were so popular that your parents fought over them at stores. Who knew that kids would love their stuffed dolls so much? (The answer is everyone).
Masters of the Universe
Imagine a whole universe with legendary characters and lore and a storyline that you could get behind. Now, imagine that all those characters were made into tiny figurines. Now, imagine that it’s the 80s, and every kid wants to own one of those toys or okay with it. That’s exactly what the Masters Of The Universe was. No more, no less.
This toy was created for younger children and is probably the best example of the saying “less is more”. Or something like that. The stuffed toy was released in 1982, and since then, it was rarely found on shelves. That’s because it became so popular that finding it at a store was an extreme sport. The soft glow that this worm exudes is, for some reason, exciting and comforting at the same time for children. That’s probably one of the reasons why it got so popular so quick.
She-Ra: Princess of Power doll
Not all girls wanted toys about beauty and damsels in distress. Some kids wanted a female warrior— someone who would face battle head-on like male action figures, and the answer was simple. She-Ra Princess of Power would be that outlier— that female doll made to stand up to gender roles. And you know what? This doll ate her competition up. It was so popular that you could hardly find it in stores anymore.
In the 80s you could tell a lot about a kid by his choice of care Bears. These stuffed dolls had very colorful designs, and it was hard for a kid not to have one designed that they craved with all of their hearts. The bears were so popular in the 80s that they even managed to get their own TV special, animated series and a theatrical film. Yes. All that.
My Little Pony
Perhaps the only difference between the My Little Pony Dolls and the Care Bears was that the Care Bears were. . . bears? (well, not technically), and the dolls of My Little Pony were ponies. In most other parts, the two toys had a lot of similarities. For example, the Care Bears and the Ponies made use of decorative symbols on their bodies to describe their names and personalities. I guess the saying is true— if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Look, I’ll be the first to say. The Popples were weird and kinda looked like something you weren’t quite sure of, but people probably didn’t have this view in the 80s. In the 80s, they were just cute little stuffed animals that had the ability to roll themselves up in a ball pretty well. Well, I guess the “hammerspace” was pretty rad too— if you were into that sort of thing as a kid.
Rainbow Brite Doll
Yes, Mr (or Mrs), we have yet another doll. Have you forgotten the 80s already? It was the era of dolls, and while some had electrical facelifts, so to speak, so many didn’t. And one of those was the Rainbow Brite Doll. In the backstory of the Rainbow Brite franchise, the doll is meant to be Wisp, a human child who brings color to a grey and desolate land. It’s safe to say that the doll achieved this by bringing color to the lives of so many children in the 80s.