Often times as I'm walking through one of our stores something catches my eye. It might be a really cool kitchen gadget that I've never seen before or a really interesting electronics item or a really funny shirt. When you have a liquidation store and receive product from a large number of distributors you might see anything. The other day I was walking down our toy aisle and noticed I kept seeing the toys of my youth. Have toy companies run out of ideas or more likely have they realized the toys of the 80's are just the bomb.
When I was a kid it was the heyday of toy manufacturing. In the 80s creativity ran wild inventing new and exciting toys and characters and improving classic toys to make them more appealing to kids. Along with all the toy lines were the amazing cartoons and shows that were created to sell these toys. Bigger muscles, moving parts, kung fu grip, scented dolls, and over the top accessories made many toy lines a must have for kids. Here we are nearly 40 years past the 80s toy explosion and here I am walking past new versions of these toys sitting right there on our shelves.
Of course it made me think back and think what were the best toys as I was growing up which brought my mind to where it often goes, a top ten list!!
As I sat down and thought through my childhood I realized this list would be difficult because there are just so many to choose from. I thought of many singular toys that I loved but when it came down to it the ones that usually made the cut were toy lines where you could literally build a whole world to play and emerge yourself into to. So lets start with some honorable mentions that didn't quite make the list.
-Teddy Ruxpin-A great interactive toy that would play tapes and tell stories to you.
-Glow Worm- Every kid hates the dark, here was a great friend who was also a night light
-Lawn Darts- Hell ya, these were awesome but also super dangerous
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- This line of toys was super cool but right at the end of the 80s so I thought of these as more 90s toys
-Thunder Cats-The show was really good, the toy line decent
-Pound Puppies-Sometimes the simplest toy is great
-Care Bears-Ok I'll admit, I'm a guy but I had Sunshine Bear when I was a kid
-Fisher Price Farm-As I typed this a vision of opening the barn door and hearing that muted "MOOOOO" rang through clear as day in my head
-Waterful Ring Toss- I remember sitting and pushing those water jet buttons over and over trying to get those little plastic rings to land on the pegs
-Lazer Tag-This would have made the list because when it worked it was a lot of fun but I seem to remember the sensors would wear out and not work after awhile
-Rubiks Cube- Great concept but too frustrating. I totally gave up and peeled the stickers then destroyed it.
-Strawberry Shortcake-Dolls you can sniff, cool but sounds creepy just saying that
-View Master-Transport yourself to a different time and place by looking through the view finder
-My Little Pony- Little girls loved them but I think they just made one blank one and painted them a hundred different colors
Any of those could have possibly made the list and I'm sure there are ones I didn't even think of because there are so many. I decided for the sake of this list not to include video game systems because they would take a bunch of the top spots. So here we go, the top ten 80s toys...........................................
10: Hungry Hungry Hippos-I enjoyed a ton of different games growing up, Monopoly, Simon, Chutes and Ladders but nothing brought the excitement and crazed mayhem like Hungry Hungry Hippos!!
9: Transformers-This was really probably the coolest toy of the 80s but in my memory because they had so many small complicated parts I would sometimes end up busting them. However, when I had them they were super cool. The one I remember being my favorite was the boombox, (don't remember his actual name).
8.He-Man-Crazy Barbarian half naked male and female figures. God how can you not love the 80s, a much simpler time! A lot of interesting characters with moving parts. My favorite might have been RAM man. You would push him down and then squeeze the bottom and he would pop up and ram people with his metal head. He won most battles at my house. I never had a Castle Greyskull but like a lot of 80s toys they created some that you could sit and hope and wish, maybe some day.
7. Slip n Slide-So simple, yet so fun. A big strip of plastic that you run the garden hose on then take a run at and flop your entire body on to go flying. You have to put it going downhill to really get some speed. This was absolutely for kids only though, most adults that attempted it usually did something to themselves and ended up missing work the next day.
6. Micro Machines-Hundreds of tiny cars with little storage cases that snapped together to make an entire city you could easily pack up and take anywhere. Hot Wheels were great, but with these you could build a whole city and play with them in any space. Plus the guy that could talk a thousand miles an hour on the commercial was pretty awesome too.
5. Cabbage Patch Dolls-Before American Girl dolls was the Cabbage Patch craze. Looking back and being a guy I don't totally understand the whole thing. I can appreciate a cool doll but these didn't seem all that fancy. However, I know every girl in the world was absolutely crazy over these. They did come with a birth certificate if I remember correctly, I guess that's a cool concept.
4. GI Joe-Kung Fu grip, movable legs, arms, and head; awesome accessories, awesome vehicles. These action figures had been around forever but the 80s redid this line to make them one of the coolest toy lines ever. Tons of different characters including William the Refrigerator Perry and Sergeant Slaughter, are you kidding me. Super cool little accessories and amazing trucks, planes, and tanks. Also, going back to my He Man comments GI Joe had the ultimate bucket list toy, the air craft carrier. This was the one toy that we all wanted and maybe knew one kid that actually had it. We would go on a field trip to his house just to see it. I can remember this clearly the first time we walked to a guy's house I went to school with and he opened his bedroom door and there it was, it took up half of his room.
3. Barbie-Once again as a guy I have to recognize the Barbie toy line is pretty legit. I've heard the comment Barbie, that B-----has everything, well its true. Barbie has accessories and clothes to be anything, to do anything, to live anywhere, to drive or fly anywhere. Shes got it all and Ken is just along for the ride.
2. Legos-They are the hottest toys currently although much more technologically advanced than our Legos from the 80s. You need to read a book to assemble todays Legos. Back in the 80s it was a big ole bucket you could dump out and creat completely from scratch. I mentioned I never had a castle greyskull or an air craft carrier, its all good I built my own out of Legos.
1. Star Wars toys-Ok I might be a little biased because I'm a little bit of a Star Wars geek but this line was GI Joe on steroids. It had all the cool features with ramped up fighters, iconic characters, vehicles based on one of the greatest movies ever. Unlike the other lines of toys I'm also biased to this because I did have the pinnacles of the toy lines. That's right prepare to be jealous, I had a Millennium Falcon and The Death Star along with most characters including a Jabba The Hutt and yes a scantily dressed Princess Leia action figure. Like most however my parents disposed of them when I became a teenager, UGGGHHHHHH!!
There it is, a blast to mine and every other Gen Xer out there. Do you agree? Did I forget something or am I crazy to rank something where I did? Maybe, but we can probably all agree the 80s were a pretty great time to grow up.