Wednesday, April 21, 2010

80s Top Ten Toys of the Decade

Here is my opinion on what were the top ten toys of the 1980s. I'm going to shoehorn this into my 80s connecting posts so please forgive the awkward logic jump.

Last time I talked about the amazing movie, Three Amigos. We all know Steve Martin was in that movie. And, of course, Steve Martin is a famous comedian who broke onto the scene in a sketch comedy show. Another wonderful actor who also has his roots in sketch comedy is Eric Idle of Monty Python fame.

Eric Idle voiced the crazy, fast talking robot in The Transformers - The Movie. Transformers is one of the famous toy lines to come out the 80s so this leads me to my top ten toys.

I could be lazy and list G. I. Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, etc. but I'm here to put in some effort. So, I'm going to get specific, very specific, to the point where particular action figures are going to make the list.

So, without further blah blah blah, here's my list.

10. Storm Shadow from G. I. Joe
For a kid who grew up with The Karate Kid and American Ninja this action figure was amazing. He came with two swords, a knife, a backpack with arrows (they didn't come out) and he's a ninja in a white outfit with a mask. Hasbro even came out with a cooler version a few years later with more accessories and an even cooler outfit.

9. He-Man Battle Ram
You see that neon orange thing on the top? It shot out like 3-4 feet. I was deadly accurate with it. The Battle Ram came with three plastic darts that shot out of the base unit with a spring loaded mechanism. I'd line Star Wars and He-Man figures on my window sill and spend hours shooting them down. If there were Battle Ram shooting contests back in the day, I would have won them all.

 8. Hovecraft from G. I. Joe
Seriously, look at that thing. Amazing. It had so many little pieces that never stayed attached like depth charges and cannons but that was half the fun. Ironically, the hovercraft neither hovered or floated all that well in the bathtub and seemed to sink within seconds. That never stopped me from bringing it in over and over again for hours of enjoyment.

7. He-Man Slime Pit
Another Masters of the Universe toy. I think we'll be seeing a few more later as well. Ah, the Slime Pit. The first real slime toy that I remember seeing on the market. The slime was gooey. The slime smelled like chemicals that weren't meant to be inhaled. I remember the slime always being cold too. It was good fun to pour that stuff on the action figures and when it came out of the skull head it looked the skeleton had snot bubbles. The Slime Pit was not always a joy, though. I hated picking dirt and hair out of the goo.

6. Grimlock the Dinobot from Transformers
Grimlock no like being number six. Grimlock best toy of all time. Well, Mr. Grimlock, there's still a few ahead of you but you definitely were a favorite of mine. All the Dinobots were pretty damned cool. Grimlock gets the spot here cause he's a T-Rex and he was the leader. I remember big drama with my parents about me taking him to school and getting into trouble. Also, at one point, a hoodlum I hung out with in the neighborhood stole him from me but he eventually found his way back into my arms. Oh, he came with a red sword too.

5. He-Man Snake Mountain
Capitalizing on the runaway success of the Castle Grayskull play-set, Snake Mountain stood on its own as one of the best toys of the decade. It had lots of interactive features like trap doors and collapsing bridges. However, it's #5 for one reason, the echoey microphone shaped like a wolf's head. It was tons of fun to talk spooky and scare your pet dog. That microphone was the single greatest toy idea of the 80s.

4. Voltron
Look at it. Worship it. There were many Transformeresque toys that built on the idea of single vehicles that you buy separately and then combine into one super big robot. Voltron was the best of bunch. I still remember getting home from school with my honor roll report card and sitting there on the table for me was the green lion. Voltron, after your parents dropped probably a hundred dollars to get the 5 different lions, was one hell of an achievement in toy making. It's just a fantastic looking toy that has been mimicked and copied to death but in it's day, Voltron was heads above anything else on the market.

3. Megatron from Transformers
Looking at Megatron from today's safety-first toy world, it's amazing this thing came to market. But, wow, was it spectacular. The picture to the left was exactly what made it amazing. As far as Transformers go, it was a pretty horrible engineering job. It was one of the most difficult Transformers to transform and Megatron in his robot form was hideous. Yet, Megatron in gun form was amazing and made up for all other shortcomings.

2. He-Man Castle Grayskull
I put more hours of playtime into Castle Grayskull than any other single toy I ever owned. I was big into setting up my figures into battle poses. I'd have about twenty figures just draped all over this thing and when I'd run out of room, I'd hang them from the ceiling. It had an elevator, a trap door, a cannon, pieces that broke off, and drawbridge that never stayed on. One of my most cherished pictures is a snapshot of me on Christmas morning and my mom and I sitting on the floor playing with it.

Castle Grayskull was a fantastic toy, but, to me, there was one other toy that symbolizes my entire childhood from movies to TV to toys. That toy is...

1. Star Wars Millennium Falcon
It's the only Star Wars toy I have on the list but don't let that fool you. Star Wars was my childhood. I had mostly every toy. The Millennium Falcon was the granddaddy of them all. There had never been another toy like it and as far as play-sets go, this thing was revolutionary. My parents still tell the tale of trying to track it down on Christmas Eve and lucking out at the last second. It was the only thing I wanted and for years after, it was the main thing I played with. For a child like me who lived and breathed the Star Wars movies, to see the false floors, the holo-chess game, and the other myriad of straight-from-the-movies accessories was like the movie coming to life right there in my bedroom. This was not only one the greatest toys of the 80s but one of the greatest toys of all time.

There you have it.

Check out Part 2


  1. I LOVED the slime pit!!! My mother hated when the slime would get everywhere. I loved your list, but in my humble opinion, you are missing the Thundercat lair

  2. Thanks for the comment. I didn't own any Thundercat toys believe it or not so I can't comment on it's awesomeness.

  3. So I owned 7 of the 10... not counting my Voltron that was tossed by my mom when it was revealed that it contained heavy amounts of lead. She never replaced it due to "safety concerns."

  4. LOL!!!...Wow, what memories those toys bring! My brother would get a kick out of this!

  5. What a truly amazing list! I had five of these wonders. No doubt, the Millennium Falcon was/is probably the greatest ever made. Glad I stumbled upon this. Thanks!

  6. Thanks for the kind words. I had a lot of fun making the list!

  7. Dude , how can this list not have the Air Craft Carrier from G I Joe ?

  8. The Aircraft Carrier was amazing and I begged and begged for it but never convinced my parents. I had to keep the list to toys I actually owned. Amazing toy, though. Probably the most ambitious action figure related toy ever made.

  9. Bro very kool I had all these toys as a kid in the 80s : )

  10. Wow you sent me back to the 80's! Must be a Great list because I played with 5 out of your 10 toys in the list. The G.I. Joe white Ninja always kick ass in my games. No complaint with Millennium Falcon as #1, one of the few toys I still have... jaja

  11. I have a Gi Joe's Hovercraft and I was used to put in the water and never sank, must have been a problem in assembly.

  12. Honourable mention to the first generation Optimus Prime! I still remember that Christmas morning.

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