“Leaving the things that are real behind,
Leaving the things that you love from mind,
All of the things that you learned from fears,
Nothin’ is left for the years.”
Aerosmith – “Toys in the Attic”
Each decade has had their own fads and crazes. The 1950’s had their hula hoops. The 1990’s had their Pogs, and Tickle Me Elmos. But when we think of long, maddening Christmas rushes and empty toy shelves, we think primarily of the 1980’s. I believe it is more of the fault of Baby Boomers trying to spoil their Gen X children, than Genxer nostalgia trying to define the narrative. It was also the era when retail giants were at their peak, with toy stores, wholesale distributors, and comic book stores everywhere, and catalog sales at their apex.
I won’t speak for my generation, but as a child of the 80’s, I can tell you, in my neck of the woods, your status in school was highly dependent on what toys you had/played with. In kindergarten, the coolest kid was the one with the coolest Big Wheel. In 6th grade, it was the one with Mongoose bike with the 360º handle bars. Even the ones with the Teddy Ruxpin shunned the one who had My Buddy.
The other problem I had making this list is my personal evolution throughout the decade. For me, I went from Star Wars figures, to G.I. Joes. Voltron and Transformers were too expensive for me. And of course, I avoided all of the girls’ toys, so how can I determine the sentimental value for such toys as Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony, Barbie, Jem, She-Ra, etc.
I only have one toy in my top ten that was invented before 1980, and that one was first introduced in 1978. I did not want to include toys that have outlasted the decade, and withstood the test of time (e.g. NERF, LEGOs). My interpretation is that these were the toys that defined the decade, and the first things that come to our minds when we think of the 1980’s.
So with all that in mind, here are our lists:
The Top Ten Toys of the 1980’s
- 10. Masters of the Universe (He-Man)
- 9. Pictionary
- 8. Thundercats
- 7. M.A.S.K.
- 6. Smurfs
- 5. Atari 2600
- 4. Nintendo Gameboy
- 3. Transformers
- 2. G.I. Joe
- 1. Star Wars
Honorable Mentions: Rubik’s cube; Cabbage Patch Kids; My Little Pony; Lincoln Logs; Teddy Ruxpin; Lil’ Professor Calculator; Mr Potato Head; Lite Brite; Snorks; Real Ghostbusters; Nintendo NES; Supersoakers; Strawberry Shortcake; Go-Bots; Zoids; Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots; LEGOs.
- 10. Wacky WallWalker
- 9. Snoopy Sno-Cone maker
- 8. Commodore 64
- 7. G.I. Joe
- 6. Transformers
- 5. Smurfs
- 4. Rubik’s cube
- 3. Nintendo NES
- 2. Cabbage Patch Kids
- 1. Crossbows & Catapults
Honorable Mentions: Garbage Pail Kids stickers; Merlin the Electronic Wizard; Tyco RC cars; Starting Lineup figures; Simon; My Little Pony; Masters of the Universe; Care Bears; Speak ‘n Spell; Teddy Ruxpin; Voltron; Sega Genesis.
Next Podcast Unlimited list: Top Ten Arnold Schwarzenegger films.