The 1980s ushered in an era of toy mania. Fads like Cabbage Patch Kids and Beanie Babies had parents lining up for hours before stores opened just to get one as a Christmas present. This era also includes the maturity of gaming console systems and advanced handheld games like the Nintendo Gameboy.
Star Wars - 1977
The license for Star Wars action figures was offered in 1976 to the Mego Corporation, which was the leading company in action figures in the 1970s. Mego refused the offer and the license was subsequently picked up by Kenner.
Star Wars was the first film to successfully market toys based on the movie. In fact, they were so successful that George Lucas independently used the funds to finance the next two movie chapters, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars action figures are the thirteenth best selling toy in history.
Gameboy - 1989
The Game Boy is an 8-bit handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. The first handheld in the Game Boy family, it was first released in Japan on April 21, 1989, then North America, three months later, and lastly in Europe, nearly a year after. It was designed by the same team that developed the Game & Watch and several Nintendo Entertainment System games.
Cabbage Patch Kids - 1982
The doll brand was one of the most popular toy fads of the 1980s and one of the longest-running doll franchises in the United States. The characters appeared in many other Cabbage Patch merchandising products ranging from animated cartoons to record albums to board games.
The dolls were based upon a design originally created by Martha Nelson Thomas.
Masters of the Universe - 1981
The "Masters of the Universe" toy line was created by Mattel in 1981, and first released to stores in 1982 as 5½-inch action figures (as opposed to the 3¾-inch size used by Kenner's Star Wars and Hasbro's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero lines).
Teddy Ruxpin - 1986
Teddy Ruxpin is an animatronic children's toy in the form of a talking Iolliop, which looks like a bear. The creature's mouth and eyes move while "reading" stories. The first version played on an audiotape cassette deck built into its back for the sound. Later versions used a digital cartridge in place of a cassette. At the peak of its popularity, Teddy Ruxpin became the best-selling toy of 1985 and 1986, and the 2006 version was awarded the 2006 Animated Interactive Plush Toy of the Year award by Creative Child Magazine.
Slime - 1976
Slime was a toy product manufactured by Mattel, sold in a plastic trash can and introduced in February 1976. It consisted of a non-toxic viscous, squishy and oozy green or other color material made primarily from guar gum. Different variations of Slime were released over the years, including Slime containing rubber insects, eyeballs, and worms and Masters of the Universe Slime for Hordak's Slime Pit playset in the 1980s.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 1988
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures are toys based on the franchise of the same name and have been produced by the company Playmates Toys since 1988. Staff artists at the Northampton, Massachusetts based Mirage Studios have provided conceptual designs for many of the figures, vehicles, and playsets and are credited on the packaging of the products they created.
Little Professor - 1976
The Little Professor was first released by Texas Instruments on June 13, 1976. As the first electronic educational toy, the Little Professor is a common item on calculator collectors' lists.
In 1976, the Little Professor cost less than $20. More than 1 million units sold in 1977.
The second-generation Little Professor was designed by Mark Bailey whilst working for Raffo and Pape. In a brief interview in 2013, Bailey stated 'I've designed everything from private jets to pregnancy tests but Little Professor remains the highlight of my career.'
Speak 'n Spell - 1978
The Speak & Spell line is a series of electronic hand-held child computers by Texas Instruments that consisted of a TMC0280 linear predictive coding speech synthesizer, a keyboard, and a receptor slot to receive one of a collection of ROM game library modules. The first Speak & Spell was introduced at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show in June 1978, making it one of the earliest handheld electronic devices with a visual display to use interchangeable game cartridges.
The Speak & Spell was named an IEEE Milestone in 2009.
Dino Riders - 1988
Dino-Riders is a cartoon television series that first aired in 1988. Dino-Riders was primarily a promotion to launch a new Tyco toy line. Only fourteen episodes were produced, three of which were produced on VHS for the United States. It aired in the U.S. as part of the Marvel Action Universe.
Tickle Me Elmo -
Tickle Me Elmo is a children's plush toy from Tyco Preschool, of the Muppet character Elmo from Sesame Street. When squeezed, Elmo shakes and recites his trademark giggle.
The toy was first produced in the United States in 1996 and became a fad. Some instances of violence were reported over the limited supply amidst heavy consumer demand. People reported that the toy which retailed for $28.99, had been advertised in newspapers and on the Internet, with sellers asking up to $1,500 by the end of 1997.
Transformers - 1984
The Transformers is a line of mecha toys produced by the Japanese company Takara and American toy company Hasbro. Initially a line of transforming mecha toys rebranded from Takara's Diaclone and Microman toylines, it spawned the Transformers media franchise.
Transformers are the sixth best selling toy in history.
Merlin - 1978
Merlin is a handheld electronic game first made by Parker Brothers in 1978. The game was invented by former NASA employee Bob Doyle, his wife Holly, and brother-in-law Wendl Thomis. Merlin is notable as one of the earliest and most popular handheld games, selling over 5 million units during its initial run, as well as one of the most long-lived, remaining popular throughout the 1980s.
Strawberry Shortcake - 1981
The Strawberry Shortcake doll was first introduced by Kenner in 1980 and was hugely popular; the dolls and toys made well over 100-million dollars in their first year out — a berry good deal for a little girl who lived inside a strawberry!
The Strawberry Shortcake line of characters each had their own fruit or dessert-themed name with clothing to match, and they each had a fruit-named pet. Like the Strawberry Shortcake doll, all the other characters' dolls had hair scented to match their dessert theme
Care Bears - 1982
Following the success of their first big franchise (Strawberry Shortcake) back in 1979, American Greetings introduced the Care Bear characters in late 1981 through a line of greeting cards.
In 1982, the Care Bears were announced as a toy line for production by Parker Brothers and Kenner the following spring, as well as pre-licensed characters and media stars. In 1983, they were introduced to the general public, and starred in their first television special, The Land Without Feelings, which Kenner produced and sponsored.
Sew Easy - 1980
Romper Room Sew Easy childrens' toy sewing machine that Hasbro introduced in 1980. It was advertised as a sewing machine made especially for the very young as it does not require a needle. In addition to not requiring a needle, it sews without batteries or electricity too.
Tamagotchi - 1996
The Tamagotchi is a handheld digital pet, created in Japan by Akihiro Yokoi of WiZ and Aki Maita of Bandai. It was released by Bandai on November 23, 1996 in Japan and May 1, 1997 in the rest of the world, quickly becoming one of the biggest toy fads of the late 1990s.
According to Bandai, the name is a portmanteau combining the two Japanese words tamago which means "egg", and uotchi "watch".
Simon - 1978
Simon Electronic Game, 1978. The Father of the Video Game was also the inventor of Simon. ... Named for the children's game of “Simon Says,” the game was inspired by an Atari arcade game called Touch Me. Baer and Howard Morrison, a partner at Marvin Glass, first saw Touch Me at a trade show in 1976.
Micro Machines - 1987
Micro Machines: The Original Scale Miniatures, also called Micro Machines or simply The Micros, are a line of toys originally made by Galoob (now part of Hasbro) in the mid-1980s and throughout the 1990s. Galoob licensed the idea behind Micro Machines from Clemens V. Hedeen & Patti Jo Hedeen, American toy inventors from Wisconsin. Micro Machines were tiny scale component style "playsets" and vehicles that were slightly larger than N scale. Early Micro Machines television commercials were famous for featuring actor John Moschitta Jr., who was (at the time) listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's fastest talker.
Power Rangers - 1993
The first Power Rangers entry, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, debuted on August 28, 1993, and helped launch the Fox Kids programming block of the 1990s, during which it catapulted into popular culture along with a line of action figures and other toys by Bandai. By 2001, the media franchise had generated over $6 billion in toy sales.
Super Soaker - 1993
Former NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson invented the Super Soaker in 1993. The gun was a reinvention of the classic water gun and was the summer-fun equivalent of bringing a bazooka to a gunfight. The Super Soaker shot distances of up to 50 feet and completely changed the face of backyard water warfare. It has gone on to sell 250 million units with the number continuing to rise every year.
The Super Soaker is the fifteenth best selling toy ever.
Glo Worm - 1982
Glo Worm is a stuffed toy for young children, designed by Hasbro's Playskool division, and made in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Introduced in 1982, the plush, pajamaed worm body contained a battery-powered device that when squeezed would light up the toy's vinyl head from within, creating a soft glow.