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These Were Kids’ Favorite 80s Action Figures

The 1980s was an amazing era of entertainment with new ideas and proliferation of children’s toys. Here’s a list of toys from the 1980s that may incite a lot of nostalgia for many of you:

Gremlins

Photo from Wikipedia Commons

 

Gremlins toys were a line of strange-looking toys with big ears and fur. Like many of the toys created at that time, they were based on the movie, Gremlins. Despite their strange look, they were incredibly popular.

GoBots

Photo credit: Flickr.com Joe Wu https://www.flickr.com/photos/ozzywu1974/2324535310

 

Gobots were a popular line of transforming robot toys that were created by Tonka. Very similar to the Transformers toys, the concept for GoBots was based on Japanese characters and they were made to be sentient figures separated by their allegiances to either the protagonistic Guardians or the evil Renegades. Soon, GoBots were made into a cartoon series that rocketed the success of these action figures. Everyone and their brothers had these toys!

Transformers

Photo from Pixabay

 

Transformers were an extremely popular line of action figures created in the 80s that still maintain their popularity today. They were originally created with two types, Autobots or Decepticons, that represented good and evil respectively. As the franchise developed, the toy lines were expanded to include even greater ranges of toys to match the new characters and storylines of the animated shows.

Karate Kid

Photo from Creative Commons

 

Karate Kid was a really popular martial arts film. Due to the great public reception of the movie, the characters were made into action figures. The original release of the toys included the clothed figures of Daniel, Mr. Miyagi, and Skeleton Johnny.

A-Team

Photo credit: Flickr.com sponki25 https://www.flickr.com/photos/147079914@N03/34569647286

 

The A-Team was an action television series about a group of wrongly convicted ex-United States Army Special Forces officers who are on the run after escaping military prison. This series was later made into a line of action figures due to its popularity. The figures included the characters Hannibal, B.A. Baracus, Face, and Murdock—the Good Guys. Of course, there were also some generic Bad Guy figures to match, including Cobra, Viper, Python, and Rattler.

WWF

Photo credit: Flickr.com Gregg O’Connell https://www.flickr.com/photos/greggoconnell/221967917

 

These action figures were based on real, professional wrestling stars. They were produced by Hasbro who aimed to capitalize on the pro-wrestling explosion in popularity. Each figure featured a signature action move based on their real-life counterparts.

M.A.S.K

Photo credit: Flickr.com Russell Warner https://www.flickr.com/photos/58454155@N00/1906493974/

 

The M.A.S.K. toy line was created as a way to capitalize off of the success of the transforming action figure market. The concept for M.A.S.K. toys centered around ordinary-looking vehicle action figures that could transform to reveal hidden weapons and armor. They would sometimes even transform into a completely different vehicle. Throughout the totality of the toy figure line, there were different series released that was based on different themes like racing, ordinary road vehicles, and futuristic fictional vehicles.

G.I. Joe

Photo credit: Flickr.com mechnine https://www.flickr.com/photos/mechnine/5741488505/

 

G.I. Joe is a popular line of action figures produced by Hasbro. Its appeal to young children in the 1980s has made it an iconic American toy. The original product offered figures representing the four of the branches of the U.S. armed forces with the Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot, Action Marine and later on, the Action Nurse. G.I. Joe can be considered the first action figure, and they in fact coined the term. As the toy line grew in popularity, it was made into a series in the media, where it developed a new storyline involving an ongoing rivalry between the G.I. Joe’s team and an evil group called Cobra. The toy line soon evolved to include vehicles and playsets along with the action figures.

Ghostbusters

Photo from Wikipedia Commons

 

The Ghostbusters toy line was created by Kenner. The toys were released during the Christmas season and were released in waves. The first wave of releases included the heroes Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston as well as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the Green Ghost.

He-man (Masters of the Universe)

Photo credit: Flickr.com Boynton https://www.flickr.com/photos/boyntonartstudio/9314652065

 

He-Man was an action figure based on a comic book series in which he was a prince with an alter-ego in order to defend his realm from evil forces. His main adversary was a character named Skeletor. He-Man underwent many changes in order to be approved to be sold to the public. The appearance that he became known for was with a space helmet and golden armor to give him a more futuristic look. He was said to have superhuman speed and strength, as well as natural leadership.

She-Ra

Photo credit: Flickr.com SpeckledOwl https://www.flickr.com/photos/speckled-owl/8704272053

 

She-Ra was a fictional character from a television series who later became the inspiration for a line of toys produced by Mattel. The action figure was meant to interest you girls in the same way that her male counterpart, He-Man, appealed to young boys. She-Ra was considered to be a positive role model for young girls. Despite being an action figure, in the television series, she would resort to violence only as a last resort, using her intelligence and wits more often to outsmart her enemies.

Voltron

Photo credit: Flickr.com Brickset https://www.flickr.com/photos/brickset/43467326021

 

Voltron was an animated series turned action figure line featuring a team of space explorers who pilot a giant super robot named Voltron. Throughout the course of the toy production, there were many versions of Voltron that were produced and circulated.

Star Wars

Photo from Pixabay

 

The Star Wars action figure line was an incredibly successful line of toys that capitalized on the success of the movie series. They were produced by Kenner toy company based on the original Star Wars movie characters. Over 100 unique action figures were made and over 300 million figures were sold. The original four were Luke Skywalker Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and R2-D2. Later, after the massive popularity of these figures, eight new figures were released. These included C-3PO, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Jawa, Sand People, and Death Squad Commander.

Knight Rider

Photo credit: Flickr.com Gobi https://www.flickr.com/photos/fuyoh/472863945

 

The Knight Rider Franchise was based on the adventure of Michael Knight, who would fight crime alongside his technologically advanced, artificially intelligent automobile. The action figures sold included Michael Knight and in some cases came with a radio-controlled version of KITT, his car.

Marvel Heroes

Photo from Pixabay

 

The Marvel Super Heroes action figure line is based on the Marvel comics. They included all of the beloved superheroes including Captain America, Spiderman, Hulk, Wolverine, and Iron Man. These action figures were extremely popular in the 80s and have only continued to grow in popularity as the series has evolved.

TMNT

Photo from Wikipedia Commons

 

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a massive franchise in the 80s. Due to the incredible popularity of the animated series featuring karate fighting action turtles. The original toys included the four turtles, Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael, as well as Splinter, April, Shredder, Rocksteady, Bebop, and a Foot Soldier.

Thundercats

Photo credit: Flickr.com Deborah Swain https://www.flickr.com/photos/deborahswain/5600710106

 

Thundercats was a cartoon that focused on a group of catlike humanoids that escaped their planet and came to Earth. A toyline naturally followed since that seemed to be the trend in the 80s. These toys were unique to many of those being produced at the time because every Thundercat toy had a different battle action that appealed to many kids at the time.

Madballs

Photo credit: Flickr.com Steven Leung https://www.flickr.com/photos/gluetree/22016691462

 

Madballs were head popping action figures. These figures had heads that would launch off the toy bodies and were loosely based on the Madballs cartoons. Kids loved these figures despite the fact that they were slightly disturbing.

M.U.S.C.L.E.

Photo credit: Flickr.com Peter O’Connor aka anemoneprojectors https://www.flickr.com/photos/anemoneprojectors/5526369965

 

The M.U.S.C.L.E. action figures originated in Japan as they were the toy line that coincided with a manga produced at the time. The storyline focused a lot on an intergalactic wrestler called Kinnikuman, which translates to Muscleman.

Guts

Photo from Wikipedia Commons

 

Guts was a Black Swordsman action figure that originated from a comic series, Berserk. This was a dark fantasy series, set in the middle ages. The Guts action figure included many different weapons used in the series.

Beetlejuice

Photo credit: Flickr.com Deborah Swain https://www.flickr.com/photos/deborahswain/4721323276

 

Beetlejuice was a comedy-horror film that was so popular that a small collectibles action figure line was produced based on the title-name character. Many of the toys from the line were characters from the Beetlejuice animated television series.

Chuck Norris

Photo credit: Flickr.com Mike Mozart https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/12683264534

 

In the 80s, an action figure modeled around Chuck Norris was released to the public. This came after his martial arts action movie came out. Multiple figures of Chuck Norris in various outfits and weapons were released, as well as figures of his team of Karate Kommandos and his adversaries The Claw.

DC Super Powers

Photo credit: Flickr.com Deborah Swain https://www.flickr.com/photos/deborahswain/4666458947/

 

The DC Super Powers action figures were based on the DC comics heroes. This toyline was what first sparked the direct competition between Marvel and DC. These figures included the most popular of the comics, such as Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and more.

Inspector Gadget

Photo credit: Flickr.com WishItwas1984 https://www.flickr.com/photos/dukeofcrydee/8273162061/in/photolist-dB57Rc-6Hf6Hu-GR5615

 

These action figures were based on Inspector Gadget, a Canadian-American franchise. The animated television series followed the police inspector named Gadget. The toy came equipped with different tools, or gadgets, that Inspector Gadget used throughout the series.

Star Trek

Photo credit: Flickr.com Steven Groves https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevengroves/4894263743

 

Star Trek was a science-fiction television series that followed the adventures of the crew aboard the starship USS Enterprise. The show is set far into the future in the Milky Way galaxy. Due to the series’ massively successful acceptance in the media, a line of action figures was produced by the company Mego. They included the crew of the USS Enterprise, Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, Scottie, and Klingon.

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