Ah the glorious 80’s. Your mum had a perm, your dad had a marvellous moustache and you were wearing parachute pants while playing with your toys in the living room. From Ghost Busters to Transformers join us as we take a look at the most rad toys from the 1980s.
Mad Balls were a series of toy rubber balls that were popular in the mid 80’s. They came in various characters with each ball having its own little story and personality. Some of the most memorable balls were: Screaming Meemie, a baseball with a goofy grin and enormous tongue; Horn Head, a horned Cyclops; Dust Brain was a mummy and no joke they had one called Crack Head which was later renamed Bash Brain for obvious reasons. Mad Balls became so popular that they made an animated series along with comics and even a video game.
Voltron was a popular animated series in the mid-80’s that spawned a collection of toys. The story followed five young pilots that flew around space in robot lions solving mysteries. When threatened by enemies they could combine into Voltron, a massive robot that would save the day every episode. From a marketing standpoint the toy line was genius. As a kid if you wanted to play with Voltron you had to hound your parents to buy all five characters which were all pretty much out of the same mould.
Riding dinosaurs and shooting lasers – what more could you ever want? This was the recipe for success for the Tyco produced Dinoriders product line. The toys were launched in conjunction with a short 14 episode animated series which was pretty much a giant commercial to sell more toys. Basically the story followed two factions battling it out for supremacy, the good Valorians and the evil Rulons. The twist came when somehow they were sent back in time to the age of dinosaurs. The Valorians managed to befriend the prehistoric animals while the sinister Rulons used brainwashing devices to dominate the beasts. Naturally both factions attached lasers and missile launchers to their newly tamed pets, making for some epic lounge room toy battles. PIEW PIEW PIEW!
The Real Ghostbusters
This was a series of toys based off the cartoon The Real Ghostbusters which of course was subsequently based off the movies Ghostbusters 1 & 2. The prefix ‘the real’ was added to the title after a dispute with production company Filmation about their rights to the Ghostbuster name after they had developed a live-action show in the 70s well before the films had been made. It was mostly legal non-sense. All you need to know was that a kick ass line of toys was released that saw Venkman and the gang shooting slime and busting ghosts. You could get a range of ghosts that appeared in the series, including the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man and Slimer, along with these little finger puppet ghosts that looked liked plastic off-cuts of other more important toys. Ah the 80s, when cheap plastic crap was the norm and no one cared about the environment.
These guys were an 80’s toy staple and were found stuffed down the sides of couches the world over. The initial action figure line, created by Hasbro, represented the four branches of the US Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
Though the first toy line was released in the 60s it wasn’t until they relaunched in the early 80s with sleeker, three and three-quarter inch models that they really boomed. The new collection came complete with vehicles, play sets and interesting back stories that saw GI Joe pitted against the evil Cobra Command. Each figurine had specific skills and expertise in weapons, explosives and martial arts.
If you grew up in the 80s there’s a huge chance you have fond memories of waging epic wars between the Autobots and Decepticons. Having the figurines all sprawled on the floor, cheese toasty nearby, preparing Optimus Prime for the ultimate duel against Megatron. There they all were, set up, ready for battle, everything was just right. The mood was tense. Then finally they charged at one another, fully prepared to die for their factions. And just before they clashed everything paused while you sat there for about 25 minutes figuring out their lengthy and complex transformations. Does this go here? No. What about, no, that’s not right. Maybe the leg flips back. Mum! I can’t figure this out!
It would appear that many people have fond memories of Transformers from the 80s with some willing to part with serious cash for a chance to re-live their childhoods. In 2007, a boxed collection of 275 Transformers sold on Ebay for a staggering one million dollars! That’s one pricey stroll down memory lane.
The Nintendo Entertainment System
It just wouldn’t be fair conjuring up memories of toys from the 80’s without mentioning the Nintendo Entertainment System. With its mighty 8-bit processing power, the NES took the 80’s by storm and had kids and adults alike bug eyed and glued to screens. It was responsible for reviving the video games industry after the 1983 video game crash. It launched house hold icons like Mario, Link and Donkey Kong and helped pave the way for technological innovation. It blistered our hands and captured our imaginations. And rightfully so, earns a spot amongst the greatest toys of all time.