One of my all-time favorite childhood toys was my pedal-powered Jeep Power Wheel. I remember those magnificent days like they were yesterday. I would rush home from school and head straight to the backyard where my shiny blue Jeep sat, patiently waiting for me. I’d spend hours cruising the sidewalks in that thing, pushing 1.5 mph with the wind in my hair. It was pure bliss.
Looking back, my Jeep was more than just a toy — it was a prized possession. That is, until my dad accidentally ran it over with his real Jeep Wrangler. Not only did I learn the importance of parking your car in an appropriate place that day, but I also learned that toys play a big role in children’s lives. It’s true that they may come and go, but we’ll always remember the fun times we had with them.
Some of you reading this may be products of the 80s or can remember popular toys from that decade that you or your kids played with, like Barbie and the Rockers, Smurf figurines, or that stupidly frustrating Pogo Ball. Having flashbacks yet? Good. Because it’s time to take a trip down memory lane!
1. Cabbage Patch Kids
Apparently, getting your hands on a Cabbage Patch Kid in the 80s was a battle-worthy cause. The wildly popular dolls were every girl’s dream and during the 1983 Christmas shopping season, about 3 million Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were “adopted” while parents fought each other in the stores to get them.
2. Care Bears
It’s hard to believe that anyone could dislike these multi-colored bears. The fuzzy, loveable favorites even starred in their own TV series and three different movies in the 80s.
3. Magic 8 Ball
This all-knowing 8 Ball quite possibly broke the hearts of millions of kids and teens in the 80s but nonetheless, it was a playtime favorite long after its creation in 1950. It was even modeled after a device of an authentic psychic! So does that mean all the times it told you your fifth grade crush was interested in you too, it was telling the truth? “Better not tell you now.”
4. My Little Pony
Magical Ponies with brushable hair and accessories — what more could a kid ask for? Their greatness has transcended time, and today, there are still loyal followings of Bronies and Pegasisters.
5. Pogo Ball
This one was a true test of physical ability. If you could actually get on it, you’d be rewarded with hours of carefree pogo-ing. Unfortunately, memories of the pogo ball are probably somewhat mixed, with a few brief periods of bliss and an overwhelming amount of face-to-face encounters with the sidewalk.
6. Rainbow Brite Doll
Young girls who wanted the Rainbow Brite Doll for Christmas probably wanted the Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer VHS too. A wildly popular character who brought color to a colorless world, the Rainbow Brite Doll was actually based on a series of popular Hallmark cards.
Transporting yourself to a different location was as easy as ever with a View-Master. Just a pull of the lever and you’d find yourself cohorting with the characters from The Jungle Book or exploring the nation’s historic monuments.
8. Mr. Potato Head
The original Mr. Potato Head from the 1950s was merely a handful of plastic pieces that were meant to be stuck inside a real potato, but government regulations and a number of pricked fingers ended that quickly. By 1985, he was the favorite little plastic potato we all know and love, and he even got a star role in the hit film Toy Story 10 years later.
9. Speak and Spell
Also a star in Toy Story, the Speak and Spell was created in the late 1970s and was a hit by the 1980s. The best part? Kids loved ‘em and they were blissfully unaware of the educational benefits.
10. Big Wheels
Boy or girl, every kid wanted a Big Wheel. There was nothing better than speeding around the front yard, pedaling a thousand times a minute on one of those Harley look-alikes. They even came in different colors and themes like the Wonder Woman and Superman Hot Cycles and the fully loaded Aqua Blaster Big Wheel, complete with a water gun, and perfect for shooting down innocent bystanders on the run.
These soft, huggable teddy bears were all the rage in the 80s and their bright colors and quirky names (Potato Chip, Puffball, and Pancake, to name a few) made them irresistible. The cartoon wasn’t half-bad either.
The year 1984 introduced some of the most beloved characters that still remain popular today: Transformers. Way before Shia LaBeouf’s interpretation of it, Transformer toys were seriously “more than meets the eye.” These awesome robots transformed into electronics, cars, lethal weapons, and more. And just like every great 80s toy, they had a TV show to accompany them.
The Walkman was a saving grace to teens (and parents) everywhere. This hip device, along with some headphones, allowed you to replay those favorite cassette tapes over and over again at a volume that was completely unacceptable, yet unknown to parents. Long live the ear-splitting sounds of Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and Poison!
14. Smurf Figurines
Those little blue figurines that found their way into homes across America actually preceded the cartoon series from the early 80s; they’ve been around since the 1950s. A variety of smurfy characters like Baby Smurf, Hefty Smurf, and Smurfette continue to be popular collectibles today.
15. Atari Gaming System
While kids, teens, and adults today enjoy interactive, fully immersive video games, the Atari Gaming System of the 80s was just the beginning. First introduced in 1977, it gained popularity quickly and earned loyal fans of games like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Pac-Man, and Pitfall! in the 80s.
16. Masters of the Universe
He-Man and Masters of the Universe characters were some of the most sought after action figures of the 80s and the animated TV show was one of the most popular kids programs of the decade. Today, many of these action figures are worth hundreds of dollars and the rare Savage He-Man in good condition can bring in more than $1,000.
17. Glo Worm
The Glo Worm was appealing for young kids because it doubled as a soft, squeezable friend and a nightlight. In 1986, Playskool created Glo Friends to accompany the well-received insect larvae, featuring Glo Snail, Glo Butterfly, Glo Cricket, and many more.
18. She-Ra: Princess of Power doll
She-Ra: Princess of Power was one of the strongest chicks to grace the 80s. Her compassionate character, amazing acrobatic abilities, and telepathic communication with animals made her a complete boss and gave Barbie a run for her money.
19. Barbie and the Rockers
Speaking of Barbie, the previous princess and ballerina Barbies had nothing on Barbie and the Rockers. This 80s glam rocker doll was also followed by a movie, Barbie and the Rockers: Out of This World, featuring an outer space rock concert led by the star herself and her rockin’ band in an effort to promote world peace.
20. Nintendo Game Boy
Released just six months before the onset of the 90s, the Nintendo Game Boy reigned supreme for years. Nintendo sold 40,000 units on its first day alone and road trips were forever changed by the incredibly annoying audio that came with it.
21. Star Wars Figurines
With the initial feature film Star Wars released in 1977 and The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi released soon after, the 80s were filled with figurines from the trilogy. Kids all over the country were dying to get their sticky fingers on the mini Luke Skywalkers, Han Solos, and Darth Vaders.
The perfect playground creation, the infamous Skip-It was a ball attached to a plastic string filled with endless fun. You attached the string at your ankle and spun it full-circle while hopping over the plastic string. There’s no question about how fun it was, but I do wonder if it should be re-named the “Trip-It.”
23. Big Yellow Teapot
This indestructible plastic teapot was all the rage in the early 80s. Ideal for parents who weren’t ready to give their toddlers anything they could swallow, break, or injure themselves with, the brightly-colored teapot was home to a little plastic family that came complete with a dog.
That little red, plastic frame was home to many a masterpiece for some and the source of frustrated tantrums for many. Most of us could never more create than a few squiggles before messing up, and with no way to erase just a part of it, the frustrated shake was a well-perfected move.
25. Teddy Ruxpin
Getting a Teddy Ruxpin bear wasn’t even comparable to getting your everyday teddy bear, because this one could talk. He told some of the best stories via cassette tape and was probably the most snuggly storyteller around.
Which of these toys do you think your kids or grandkids would still enjoy today? What was was your favorite toy when you were a kid? If you’re ready to re-live some of your childhood, check out one of these toy museums around the country:
- World’s Largest Toy Museum, 3609 W. 76 Country Blvd., Branson, MO
- The Toy & Action Figure Museum, 111 S. Chickasaw St., Pauls Valley, OK
- The Strong National Museum of Play, 1 Manhattan Square Dr., Rochester, NY
- Beaver Island Toy Museum & Store, 37970 Michigan Ave., Beaver Island, MI
- National Toy Train Museum, 300 Paradise Lane, Paradise Township, PA
- Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, 1880 Gaylord St., Denver, CO