The 80s were when companies started to realize just how much they could market toys to kids via the power of TV, so much so that a bunch of toy lines would get their own cartoons. In the case of these 10 toys, you know you begged your parents for them when you were a kid.
1980 – Rubik’s Cube
Created by Hungarian designer Ernő Rubik during the late 70s, the final version was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world at the dawn of the following decade. To this day, people love trying to figure out the best ways to solve these colorful puzzles, though most of us tend to give up after not being able to solve more than a single side.
1981 – Masters of the Universe
The toy line that spawned one of the most popular cartoons of the decade, the colorful inhabitants of Eternia were on just about every young boy’s most-wanted list at the time. Between He-Man’s rippling muscles and awesome sword, Skeletor’s impressively evil face, and each of their respective groups of friends and foes, there was a character for everyone.
1982 – Glow Worm
An adorable, smiley plush toy that had the added awesomeness of lighting up whenever you hugged and squeezed it. It’s so adorable that you couldn’t help but love it, and the brand just got bigger from there.
1983 – Cabbage Patch Kids
Everybody’s favorite vegetable-spawned doll had existed for a year already thanks to inventor Xavier Roberts selling them in North Georgia before licensing them to Coleco. It was in ’83 that they became a genuine hit. They were so popular that parents went nuts trying to get them for their kids that Christmas.
The toys just get better from here…
1984 – Transformers
Hasbro’s biggest and most enduring franchise was based on a simple concept: giant robots that also transformed into vehicles. There were dozens of these guys, all transforming into cars, trucks, jets, construction vehicles, motorcycles, you name it. It only got bigger from there, and the resulting cartoon and movie franchise speaks for itself.
1985 – Teddy Ruxpin
One of the most advanced but creepiest toys of the era, this cassette tape-loaded bear would read us stories and sing to us. It was really impressive, but also managed to be pretty unsettling.
1986 – Nintendo Entertainment System
The video game industry had crashed thanks to the fall of Atari in 1983, but then along came a little Japanese company named Nintendo to revolutionize video games as an industry, and lead to them becoming one of the biggest forms of entertainment in the world. We ALL wanted an NES.
1987 – Popples
The newest toy from Susan Trentel, one of the lead designers behind Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears, these combinations of a hedgehog, a bear and a koala were absolutely adorable, and they were super popular for years.
1988 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
A cult-favorite comic book that soon became one of the singularly biggest cartoons of all time, several companies passed up TMNT before Playmates decided to take a chance on them. I think our closets that are still full of every version of every Turtle speaks to whether that was a good idea or not.
1989 – Nintendo Game Boy
Three years after Nintendo revolutionized home video games with the NES, they asked the question of “What if you could take your video games ANYWHERE?” The Game Boy was released to universal acclaim thanks to its revolutionary technology and solid library of games (launch units of the console even came with Tetris), and you definitely wanted one if you were a kid.