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10 Toys from the ‘80s that Will Make You Wish You Had a DeLorean

Are you a child of that legendary span of time that is the 1980s? Did you grow up without—gasp—a cell phone in your pocket from dawn to dusk? Were you forced to find ways to entertain yourself before the advent of Netscape Navigator?

Well pack your bags, McFly, we're about to go retro. Allow us to take a few moments to wax nostalgic about the final decade of offline recreation. The following is our humble take on the top 10 toys born in the '80s that will remind late Gen Xers and early Yers of the good ole days.

Rubik's Cube

Original Brand: Rubik's Brand Ltd

Release Year: 1980 (worldwide commercial release)

Check It Out: This should come with a Surgeon General's warning

Erno Rubik must have been a sick, sick man. What else could possibly explain the creation of a device capable of such torment? If you're like us, you probably thought you had a brain until you picked up what has become the most instantly-recognizable piece of casual geometry in history. Although it's no longer quite as prominent on store shelves as it was in its heyday, it's definitely still as frustrating, and it's certainly established its place in the toy hall of fame. In fact, it has its own event in the World Cube Association's organized puzzle competitions. And then there's this insanity.

Cabbage Patch Kids

Original Brand: Coleco

Release Year: 1982

Check It Out: A case study on mob mentality at Toys "R" Us

To say these were popular would be an injustice. Baby Boomer parents still reminisce about the department-store wraparound lines and aisle shoving that accompanied the release of CPK. The “Cabbage Patch Kids” brand has been licensed over 150 times since then for a wide variety of products from diapers to cereal, with varying degrees of retail success. What hasn't varied is CPK's position among the longest-running dolls in history. It also happens to be the only one we know of to be named the official mascot of the US Olympic Team. Use that little bit of trivia next time you're at the pub for a free drink.

Masters of the Universe (aka, He-Man)

Original Brand: Mattel

Release Year: 1982

Check It Out: Click only if you HAVE THE POWER!

Seriously, how cool does a toy have to be to inspire an entire TV series based on it? That's right, the action figure was first, and the cartoon rode its coattails. And then there was the surprisingly awful 1987 live-action production starring Ivan Drago Dolph Lundgren and a post-Springsteen video / pre-Friends Courteney Cox. If you haven't seen it, don't. Anyway, there have been reboots of the toys and cartoon since then, and there's even talk of a new live-action film in 2019 (up against a bar that couldn't be any lower). If you ask us, though, nothing can top the O.G. Castle Grayskull squad.

My Little Pony

Original Brand: Hasbro

Release Year: 1982

Check It Out: Our favorite '80s toys with tails

What could be cuter than a bunch of multi-colored horses jumping lithely over rainbows? The answer is nothing. That's why there were over 150 million of them sold that decade. Like its boy-targeted cousin He-Man, MLP also inspired an animated series popular among girls. This was followed by another, which was then followed by a movie. As with several other items on here, the franchise has been revived a few times over the 30+ years since its initial intro, but no one can argue that this is an 80s achievement. A cute '80s achievement.

Care Bears

Original Brand: Parker Brothers, Kenner

Release Year: 1982

Check It Out: There's not enough room in the closet

So '82 was apparently an epic year for toys. What started out as a Care Bear drip later turned into a full-blown waterfall. There are now over 200 in the happy little litter, including Birthday Bear, Cheer Bear, Grumpy Bear, Funshine Bear, and a LOT of other sibling bears. The characters actually debuted as part of a greeting card line by American Greeting. It wasn't long before the belly-badged bears turned up in stores to the delight of ankle biters everywhere. From MTV music videos to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, these guys have a history of popping up where you least expect them.

Nintendo Entertainment System

Original Brand: Nintendo

Release Year: 1985 (North America)

Check It Out: The only 8-bit microprocessor that still rocks

We think we speak for our contemporaries when we say Nintendo all but ended life outdoors for a sizable segment of the youth population. Atari's brief little experiment was fun and all, but NES ushered in a brave new world of home gaming entertainment. Who knew a fat little plumber and his brother could set the foundation for what is now an industry worth over $100 billion? Nintendo has since cashed in on millennials' newfound adult purchasing power and weakness for nostalgia by re-releasing a modernized version of NES in 2016. “NES Classic Edition” features 30 built-in games from the original system and has already sold millions of copies. And yet we STILL can't beat Mike Tyson in Punch-Out!!

Teddy Ruxpin

Original Brand: Worlds of Wonder

Release Year: 1985

Check It Out: Bedroom animatronics would never be the same

Back when it supposedly wasn't creepy for your dolls to talk to you as long as they weren't named Chucky, Teddy Ruxpin rose to fame as everybody's favorite chatty stuffed animal. This was, like, the pinnacle of toddler A.I. back in the day. And that ought to tell you something since everything that came out of his mouth was pre-recorded. On cassette. To call Teddy the predecessor of Siri may be a bit of a stretch, but hey, it was still fun. Hence its place as the top-selling children's toy of the mid-'80s.

Power Wheels

Original Brand: Pines of America

Release Year: 1985

Check It Out: When 5-year-olds peel out at 5mph

Stop the music. You're telling me there's a toy you can drive? Like mom and dad? Whoa. How cool was this one with its 12 volts of unbridled horsepower opening up a brand-new way of getting from one end of the backyard to the other. Power Wheels did have its share of product recalls over the years for one reason or another, but so has every single automobile manufacturer on the planet. And last time we checked, cars were responsible for more casualties each year than Power Wheels High Riders. So pipe down, CPSC.

Micro Machines

Original Brand: Galoob

Release Year: 1987

Check It Out: You know, the commercials with that guy who talks real fast?

These were cool even before McCauley Culkin popularized their use as anti-burglary devices. Unlike the previous generation's Matchbox cars, Micro Machines could be carried by the pocketful all over the neighborhood. Of course, their size also made them ripe for misplacement, and we must have begged for no less than two dozen police cars over a brief but careless three-year stretch. Fun fact: MM toymaker Galoob also made Game Genie, the grandfather of all video game cheats. That was released in 1990, but who cares, we all know '90 was really just a transition year. Count it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Original Brand: Playmates Toys

Release Year: 1987

Check It Out: Big, green, pizza-loving surfer bros with weapons

Okay, we could build an entire list of best original action figures from the 80s (Voltron, Centurions, M.A.S.K., Dino-Riders, etc.). We've already mentioned one of the best, and we don't want to load up this top 10 with nothing but five-inch agents of destruction. But come on, it's the freakin' Ninja Turtles, y'all! The fact that this was originally a comic book franchise intended to punk other popular superheroes at the time like Daredevil and New Mutants just makes it that much more awesome. Our four half-shelled friends have spawned multiple animated TV shows, movie franchises, games of all kinds, and more magical memories than you can shake a nunchuck at. Cowabunga, dude.

Honorable Mentions

Ahhh, those were the days. You feeling all sentimental, too? Well, for the special people in your life who already have everything and are currently on their way to middle age, now you've got some vintage gift ideas that'll send them into orbit.

If '80s toys aren't your bag and you're sticking with inventory for today's tykes, check out our stocking stuffer suggestions. Need some more variety? Cool, try these. Just looking for 15 minutes of peace and quiet? Throw them a Rubik's Cube.


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