The Best Toys and Games of the 1980's

Here at RetroPlanet towers, we're children of the 80's, so we're obviously completely impartial on the subject. That being said, this was without doubt the best decade for toys and games in history. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

Whether you're made from 'snips, snails and puppy-dogs tails' or 'sugar and spice and all things nice', there was something for you to buy, collect and keep until you became old, fat and bald, wishing you could go back and do it all again.

So let's dive right in and take a look at some of the best toys and games of the 80's...!


Optimus Prime
Optimus Prime

Released: 1984

Manufacturer: Hasbro

The robots in disguise were initially released to the American market by Hasbro in 1984 before becoming a worldwide phenomenon.

The Transformers were divided into two main groups; the Autobots and the Decepticons (didn't they have great names for stuff back then!). Each one had it's own family of transforming robots which were available to buy and collect and they have since gone on to inspire a generation of cartoons and movies. 


Released: 1977

Manufacturer: GaloobMicroMachines

Although they had been around earlier, an advertising campaign in the 1980's pushed this line of dinky cars and trucks into the mainstream and eventually brought about a line of video games in the 90's.

The range of Micromachines available were vast, including cars, trucks, boats, planes, trains and many, many more.

My Little Pony

Released: 1982

Manufacturer: Hasbro

My Little Pony

No list of the best toys and games of the 1980's would be complete without a mention for the frighteningly girly My Little Pony.

The 1982 range of colourful figures proceeded a previous attempt by Hasbro to corner the global nag market with their 'My Pretty Pony' range. Their 2nd attempt was a huge success and a whole spectrum of Pony's were released throughout the 80's including winged, flutter and sea ponies as well as a line of Unicorns.

Teenage mutant ninja turtles

Released: 1987

Manufacturer: Playmates Toys

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Teenage Mutanat Ninja Turtles

The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series seems a loooooong time ago now. When the first release of toys hit the UK shops in 1987 they were a sensation and have reportedly generated billions of dollars in revenue to date.

Demand was so high in their first year of release that shop shelves were regularly emptied as the

Teenage Mutanat Ninja Turtles

manufacturers struggled to keep up and they quickly became one of the decades most sought after collectable.

If you were lucky enough to get hold of some though, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle range had a whole host of the main characters including Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo and Leonardo, as well as Splinter, Shredder and a whole host of vehicles and accessories.

Several movies, video games and even a record release soon followed and the brand still continues to this day.


Released: 1985

Manufacturer: LJN

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Unlike most other merchandise lines, Thundercats action figures were released before a TV series and their cartoons were based on the toys rather than the other way round. 

Between 1985 - 1987 LJN had produced a whole range of the characters. These included Lion-O, Cheetara and Pantho as well as their vehicles and other accessories (Battletank anyone?!).

Barbie Logo

Released: 1959

Manufacturer: Mattel

Barbie has been around for nearly 60 years so it's no wonder she makes pretty much every list of peoples favourite 80's toys. She was still in her youth during this time, presumably with a job, mortgage and car

Superstar Barbie

payments to worry about, but nonetheless doing very well. 

During the 1980's Mattel focused on releasing a more diverse range of Barbie doll. The first black and Hispanic versions were sold in 1980 followed by a selection that promoted women taking on traditionally male dominated jobs, including Doctor Barbie and even Nascar Barbie.

Not without her controversy though, Barbie has long been criticised for promoting an unrealistic body image in girls. In the early 1960's the release of 'Barbie Babysits' even came with a book called 'How to lose weight' which advised 'Dont eat'! More recently Saudi Arabia even banned Barbie as she didn't conform to the ideals of Islam.

Despite the controversies though, she's been a market leader for a generation of kids and collectors alike. One Barbie doll (Midnight Red) even set a world record in 2006, selling for £9000 at Christie's in London.


Released: 1982

Manufacturer: Mattel

Castle Grayskull
Castle Grayskull

After several years of legal wranglings linked with alleged insprations to the Conan The Barbarian movie, Mattel released its original He-Man action figures.


The 1982 toys included the main characters He-Man, Battle Cat, Man-At-Arms, Skeletor and Mer-Man as well as several vehicles and He-Man's lair - Castle Grayskull!

Later releases featured many of the other characters included in the cartoon series 'He-Man and the Masters of the Universe', such as Man-E-Faces, Panthor, Mekaneck, Orco, Buzz-Off and Whiplash as well as Skeletor's lair Snake Mountain.

The Best of the Rest

Let's take a look back now at some of the best toys and games of  the 1980's that you might have forgotten about...

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