10 Forgotten Toys From the 80s
Kids today have it good. With their iPads and Anki Overdrive race tracks, I was definitely born in the wrong decade. I am a child of the 80s. My youth was spent fighting with action figures, entertaining myself with those piece of crap Tiger Electronic handheld games, and spending time outdoors getting exercise. However, that’s not to say the 80s was filled with filler and junky toys. We had HeMan, GI Joe, Transformers, and the Nintendo Entertainment System to name a few. However, while the decade may have been dominated by some big names, there were also plenty of forgotten toys. Toys that, try as hard as the might, could never really hold a candle to the big guns. Today we are going to dive into some of the lost toys from the 80s that you may have forgotten. Enjoy!
10 Forgotten Toys From The 80s
I can still remember the jingle from their toy commercial. It was one of those that quickly got stuck in your head. “…Army Ants…we go…marching…along”. Army Ants gave us a new spin on the green army man toy. Coming in two colors (to fight each other of course), you had your choice of blue or orange Army Ants, each with their own weapon or outfit. While not the most high tech of toys, that darn catchy jingle always got my attention.
As low tech as the Army Ants were, Captain Power was equally high tech. Captain Power was a spaceship that held an action figure inside the cockpit. But what the ship really contained was a house for a light gun. The toy came with a VHS tape of the Captain Power cartoon (also a short lived TV series). The main draw of the toy was that the cartoon would contain specific points where you could shoot a flashing box to score points. The cartoon also fought back via different colored flashing boxes, and if you took enough damage, your pilot was forcefully ejected from the cockpit. Now a days, this toy would probably never fly due to seizure issues, but at the time, it was a ton of fun and fairly interactive.
One of my favorite little toys of the era, SpinJas were basically little warriors attached to a spinning top. The toy came with two launchers, with the case being the curved “arena”. After winding up the two warriors, you’d launch them into the arena, where they’d spin and eventually collide with one another. The winner was the player who knocked the other SpinJa down (or out of the arena). For a toy that was basically just two spinning tops, I had an absolute blast with them.
Part of Milton Bradley’s Floor Series, Torpedo Run is a massive game that was indeed only playable on a floor (unless you had a really massive table). It involved two players setting up a group of ships (destroyers, battleships, etc) on either side of the map, and then usual their submarines to shoot discs across the map. Each ship had indentations that, when hit, would cause parts of the ship to explode. For a kid who had only played battleship! up until that point, this was about as fun as it could get.
PXL 2000 Video Camcorder
I remember seeing commercials for the PXL 2000 Video Camcorder on TV and was immediately hooked. Today, this might seem like a lame toy in an age were most kids have HD cameras hanging out in their pockets. But back in the day if you wanted to record video, you had bulky cameras that recorded to VHS tapes. The PXL 2000 Camcorder recorded everything to a cassette tape in glorious Black and White. The video camera never really took off, probably due to it’s high cost (about $180, or almost $400 in today’s dollars). But that didn’t stop me from always coveting one…
How do you get kids excited about an action figure without a huge tv show tie in? In a world where GI Joe was dominating the market, Hasbro decided being the king wasn’t enough. In 1987 they created a series of actions figures (and matching cartoon series) about on the scale and quality of GI Joe and, are you ready for it, added holograms to the figures. Each figure had a hologram on their chest armor and, in what might seem like a silly gimmick to you, had the 10 year old me drooling. I don’t know why a hologram made this toy better, but it just did. They also released visionaries with shields or banner flags that contained holograms, because why not.
In the 80s, Hasbro was destroying the to market with their Transformers line of toys. Robots that turned into other things such as vehicles, guns, or even cassette tapes. Kenner, looking to tap into the transforming craze, brought us M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand). This line to toys (and TV cartoon tie-in), brought us a series of vehicles that transformed to reveal hidden weaponry or other features. My favorite was the sports card that had wing doors to make it fly. The toys proved popular and kids with dozens of vehicles to choose from.
You can’t talk about transforming toys from the 80s and not mention the GoBots. Produced by Tonka, the GoBots actually beat the Transformers to the market. However, the battle of the transforming robots was clearly won by the Transformers. The GoBots did have their own cartoon series, but eventually the sales of the Transformers outpaced the GoBots and a champion was declared. Tonka was eventually bought by Hasbro in the early 90s, thus ending the war permanently.
The Silverhawks were short lived toy line produced by Kenner. Based on a TV cartoon of the same name, the Silverhawks Action Figures were heroes that had wings that would snap out, letting them fly (not for real). What probably got kids attention were that the hero figures were decorated with chrome, shiny, shiny chrome. This made the Silverhawks a supremely eye catching toy. Once the show went off the air though, it didn’t take long for sales to plummet.
The Power Lords were a line of action figures that all had some kind of “special action”. The main character, Adam Power, was “given a special jewel to transform into the Lord of Power”. The Adam Power toy had the ability to have its upper torso spin around, turning him into the Lord of Power. Apparently kids didn’t care that the action figure had a face on the back of his head, and looking at the toy now, it just looks creepy. But hey, the special action was pretty cool back in the day. I loved clicking the button and watching the guy spin around into someone else.