Top 10 80s Toys — a Totally Tubular List

What’s on your list of the top 10 80s toys?

If your list doesn’t include at least a few of the classics below, you’re either a) a hot mess, b) lying about your 80s roots, c) terminally wrong.

Here’s hoping you got it right …

Star Wars

Yeah, saying “Star Wars” was a toy is like saying water is a drink, but you can pretty much find the whole universe of the original trilogy in toy form, somewhere, and dated from the 1980s, and all of those toys are better than any other toy, ever. Except those little boats that used to come in boxes of Cap’n Crunch. Otherwise, Force World takes all the toys marbles.

Mad Balls

Mad Balls were sort of like Wacky Packages rolled up with Garbage Pail Kids all brought to 3D life on gruesome rubber balls. Who wouldn’t want a, um, “crack head” careening at your head, after all, when your dorky brother decided to chuck it your way. Flying ghouls and horn-headed tongues are nightmare fuel, and these had it all.


If you wanted to combine teamwork and cartoons and droid things in the 1980s, you couldn’t do better than Voltron. And, even if you couldn’t con and cajole your parents into coughing up the cashage for all five characters, you were still in business if you had a few friends — you form the arms, and I’ll form — the head.


It was first, and it spawned generations of games. It also spawned competitors, like the NES (see below). And, yes, the Atari 2600 technically came out in the 70s, and — yes — Pong was technically firster, but bite it. Atari was what 1980s video games were all about, and it’s one of the top two or three toys of all time.

Dino Riders

You may not remember the cartoon series — but you might, if you’re sufficiently nerdy — but you definitely remember pretending to ride dinos wile shooting lasers … right? I mean … you’re Valerian and not Rulon … RIGHT???

The Real Ghostbusters

You know, as opposed to those fake Ghostbusters from the movie. Because the cartoon versions were totally real — real enough to inspire a line of toys based on the cast … er .. based on the real people who were really Real Ghostbusters. You’re lying if you didn’t ask Santa for a Stay Puft marshmallow dude or Slimer for Christmas at least once in your life.

GI Joe

GI Joe was a real American hero, and he was THE action figure for kids who, for whatever reason didn’t get into Star Wars. There’s really no saving those people, to be honest, but Joe did his best, and he was there before Luke ever whined to dual suns about how unfair life is. So maybe there’s some legacy involved. Legacy or just general coolness, Joe still appeals to lots of folks, courtesy of general badassery and plenty of kickass accessories.

Nintendo Entertainment System

It was no Atari, but what NES lacked in being firstest, it more than made up for by being Donkey Kong-est. And long-lasting. And groundbreaking. And setting the stage for the proliferation of consoles and games that drives entire industries and spawns new ones 40 years later.

Cabbage Patch Dolls

Creeptastically cute, Cabbage Patch Dolls made it possible for every little boy or girl to adopt an inanimate, rubber-faced creepazoid that looked just like them … or like their crush, or nemesis. You gotta think think there was some Cabbage Patch hangover going on when MySpace and Facebook gave us the chance to “reconnect” with Sally Jo Sue and Billy Bob Jack form school. And how else were kids going to practice their voodoo spells and the like?


They were robots in disguise. They were more than meets the eyes. Transformer — they were better than Voltron, and more varied, and led to more Michael Bay explosions. And they also — eventually — helped us realize that Bumble Bee is not just a can of tuna. And … every little boy from the 80s still has a transformer tucked away somewhere that he sneaks off to play with when times get tough. Who needs illicit websites when you have an 18-wheeler that turns into C-3PO?

(For more fun with old toys, check out our running list of posts about our favorite gnarly play things right here.)

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Totally Tubular 80s Toys

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