12 1980s Toys You Might Not Remember
Not long ago, I put together a list of 15 toys from the 1990s that you may have forgotten about. I decided to go back in time a little further and find some from the 1980s that you may not remember or maybe never even heard of. I grew up in the '80s and some of my favorite toys consisted of G.I. Joe, He-Man, Transformers, and more. You can read through 12 of my favorites right here. While I was doing some research on these toys, there were some things that I completely forgot about! It was so great to be able to unlock some of those memories that I hadn't thought about in years. It was seriously like going back in time, and now I want to buy back my childhood in the form of toys!
Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future
I completely forgot that this ever existed, but I freakin’ loved playing with this thing as a kid. The toy line was not only based on an animated series, but the toys Mattel developed also interacted with a segment of the episodes that included visual and audio material. You basically held your spaceship in front of the TV and fired at it with light lasers. You could also shoot the guns on the toys at each other to make the pilot pop out. I included a gloriously radical commercial for each of the toys listed.
These were basically squirt guns that resembled an Uzi. These things would probably get you shot in the streets these days if kids were carrying them around. The twist was that the gun shot out a disappearing ink. It was a fun toy to play with…until you ran out of the disappearing ink ammo, which happened pretty fast. After that it was just a regular squirt gun. Sure, they had refills...but who ever actually went out and bought the refills? Not me!
I don’t know why, but I had a crazy amount of fun playing with these action figures. I imagine it was the horror aspect of them that appealed to me. The thing that set these apart from other toys was that they had 3D holograms. The figure's chest and head holograms would change between images as your viewing angle changed. The shields also had holograms on them, and their weapons were glow in the dark. There were two different factions of ghostly warriors: one was lead by the heroic Lionheart, the other was lead by the evil Skull.
Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light
These figures were based on an animated series that I have no recollection of, but I must have watched it, because I had a few of the figures. (The toys were actually developed and released after the animated series ended.) They each had hologram stickers on both their chests and staffs. The toy line only lasted one year, and included twelve figures featuring male Spectral Knights and Darkling Lords. There were also four vehicles produced. A second series of figures was supposed to be released in 1988, but the line was discontinued and never produced. I’m surprised the first series of toys was released in the first place, considering it happened after the show ended.
It’s so weird for me to look back at my childhood and realize that I had a full collection of Army Ants. They seem like such a silly toy now, but when I was a kid, I thought they were the coolest thing. The figures were released in squadron sets, and came in a pack of three or eight figures. The ant soldiers had various ranks, including officers, international soldiers such as French Foreign Legion soldiers and English guards, and aviators. The Army Ants were organized into two opposing armies, which included an Orange Army led by General Patant and a Blue Army led by General Mc-Anther.
These just make me laugh, especially after I watched the commercial. This is another collection of action figures that I played with a lot. The figures were only about 2" tall, and they came in the form of an anthropomorphized animals with body armor and a weapon. Most of the figures had their left hand replaced by a weapon of some kind.
This is one of those toy lines that preceded the development of the cartoon series. I had a few of these toys, but not a ton of them. One of the things that made it stand out was that it used “Magna Lock” technology, which basically included magnets embedded into the figures' feet so that they could stand on their vehicles and playsets without falling off. The complete series of Starcom toys offered 23 figures, 6 playsets, and 13 vehicles on the heroic Starcom side, while the villainous Shadow Force was represented by 15 action figures and 11 vehicles.
This is another one of those action figure lines that completely slipped my mind, but I played with them all the time. Good grief, I had a lot of freakin’ toys growing up. The toys were based on an animated series that I had a blast watching as well. Comic book legends Jack Kirby and Gil Kane contributed to the design and concepts of the show, which featured three heroes wearing exo-frame suits battling the forces of evil. There were holes in in the body of the figures where you could embed armor, weapons, and even vehicles, and I remember thinking this was a pretty cool and inventive toy line.
Hell yeah, I had Sky Commander toys! What’s funny about this is that I enjoyed playing with the toys, but I never liked the animated series it was based on. There’s a reason it never went past one season. You would play with these toys with ziplines that came along with them. I remember clamping strings all over my room and in the back yard to play with these things. It probably wasn’t the safest toy to be playing with though, especially with all of the trip lines the kids just set up anywhere they could. I will say I didn’t like how much work it took to set up, and then cleaning it all up afterwards was always a hassle.
Yeah, this was was probably one of the dumbest toy lines to come out of the '80s. I was never interested in these Ring Raiders toys. I don’t know why, but I just didn't like the fact that I had to wear a ring to play with my toys. They consisted of small plastic toy airplanes that were mounted on plastic rings. Apparently there were only a few molds that were produced for the toy line, so most of the aircraft were repainted three or four times each. The line was short-lived, and only lasted for about six months.
I don’t know anyone who had this toy. In fact, I had never heard of it until I started doing research for this article. It was a programmable electric vehicle resembling a futuristic-looking tank and utility vehicle that might have been used on a moon or Mars-type environment. Apparently the toy could remember up to 16 commands, which it would then perform in sequence. I personally think it looks like kind of a boring toy, but anyone that had it as a kid might have the complete opposite opinion because of the nostalga factor.
This sci-fi robot toy line had one of the greatest '80s commercials ever! Once you watch it, you won’t be able to get the amazing theme song out of your head. The line included a pair of robot cars, one called Protagatron (Red), the other named Antagatron (Blue). The toy boasts that it was always changing and rearranging, but I didn’t see much of that when I had one. Check out the official back story!
"In all Galactic lore, there is no story as tragic and hard fought as that of the Twin Princes of the Rival Moons of Planet Robotron. Each Prince was to rule his own moon, with the most successful ruler eventually becoming the new Emperor of Robotron. One of the Princes chose evil and destruction as his means to power, and set out to destroy the Good Prince, with the aid of Antagatron, a giant mutant Robot with the ability to charge up and launch a Tracker that changes to Attacker."