Kids are born for toys!
After a day at school that feels like forever, nothing makes kids happier than getting home and running straight into the loving arms of their favorite toy. Parents can wait! And besides unparalleled economic and technological growth encompassing every level and class of society, the '70s, '80s, and '90s brought us something even more important: awesome toys. Those were the days when we'd take our pet rock out for a walk, set Transformers to battling over their precious Energon cubes, and perhaps wind down with an evening of Super Nintendo. From the perspective of the children, these were the greatest days in history- and they knew it! GI Joes made war against the malevolent forces of COBRA, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brought their own unique brand of renaissance appreciation to the masses, and My Little Pony taught us all about friendship.
Even beyond how awesome these toys were to play with, for the first time ever, toys began to see a truly worldwide, global reach- meaning that kids from very different countries and backgrounds could reminisce together about how great they were. Toys helped bring the world together, one doll, monster, and game at a time!
How much do YOU know about toys? We've gathered together a quiz chock full of some of the greatest toys and games of the '70s, '80s, and '90s to test your knowledge.
Hit us with your best shot. YO, JOE!
A semi robotic Teddy Bear, Teddy Ruxpin could simulate reading stories by playing a cassette in the cassette recorder mounted on his back. His eyes and mouth would move along with the words!
Essentially an oversized squirt gun, Super Soakers were the next evolution in water warfare around the block. They used pressurized air to shoot water in a long stream, rendering the wielder all but invincible in a squirt gun duel!
Legos had been around for a while, but the' 80s saw the rise of the next level of Lego action: Lego Technic. It had more complex pieces, like axles and cogs, that could be used to construct more sophisticated machines.
By the power of Greyskull! He-Man was a cartoon hero who transformed from a humble prince into a mighty warrior when he held his sword aloft and said his magic phrase. His adventures were popular enough to lead to a spin-off created around a version marketed for girls, She-Ra, Princess of Power!
Based on the rather more adult comic book created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the cartoon version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles won the hearts of millions of children worldwide. The four turtles, all named after renaissance artists, would use their Ninja skills to defeat various and sundry robot and mutant foes, but they always made it back in time for pizza!
The key to the success of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls has nothing to do with the loose cabbage patch branding they used: it's the soft sculpted molding that was used to give the dolls their distinct features. These dolls had a particular baby-like quality to them and that, combined with their many different clothing options, made them enormously popular.
Based off the hapless hero from Pixar's "Toy Story," Buzz Lightyear Dolls were old fashioned in terms of their styling, but their high quality and detail gave them a distinctly modern feel. Tim Allen's character was so memorable, he fit right into households as if he was always there!
Everyone who played Operation remembers the ludicrous red nose on the end of the drawn-on patient's face- and the buzzer and light that would sound off when you messed up! A dexterity game par excellence, Operation demanded its players carefully gather body parts from the poor, doomed, patient's body.
Lots of kids love ponies, so why not make a line of dolls around them? Multicolored and magical, the cartoon heroines of My Little Pony brought wonder and joy to kids throughout the '80s. The 2000s would see a rebirth of these toys, albeit with a very different cartoon.
Little more than a long tarp of colored plastic that kids would slide down, the Slip and Slide was a great source of backyard or picnic fun....at least until a series of unfortunate accidents prompted its withdrawal from the market!
Loosely based on the Chinese legend, The Journey to the West, the story of Dragon Ball saw monkey-tailed Goku and his friends searching the world for the mythical Dragon Balls, said to grant their bearers wishes. This would become one of the world's most beloved manga and cartoon stories.
The Street Sharks! When their scientist father has a fight with his partner, the four Bolton boys are turned into half man, half shark heroes who fight crime against their evil half piranha nemesis. Hopefully, they can turn back someday. Bonus points for remembering the name of the device that created them, the "gene-slammer."
Originally based off a serialized manga, Yu-Gi-Oh! Follows the adventures of the titular Yugias as he travels around the world battling evil....through a card game. The card game would rise to be extremely popular, perhaps eclipsed only by Magic the Gathering and the Pokemon card game.
Created in the early '90s, Codemasters' Game Genies allowed players to modify game data and effectively "cheat," giving themselves unlimited lives or greatly enhancing their powers in video games. Why bother to get good when you can Game Genie your way to victory?
A group of human-cat hybrid aliens crash land on a distant planet, where they find themselves drawn into conflict with an ancient mummy and his dark magic. Thundercats was created by an American but was actually animated by a Japanese company, bringing distinct anime stylings to this popular cartoon.
An unusual entry in the doll market, My Buddy dolls were marketed to boys, based on the idea of getting them used to the idea of having a little brother to be friends with and take care of. They saw a great deal of success, although their marketing thunder was stolen by the cinematic appearance of the monstrous Chucky, who was (for all intents and purposes) an EVIL My Buddy doll!
A line of foam toys, Nerf was a foam substance created to be a toy suitable for rough and tumble play but incapable of actually harming any children- or delicate furniture! A resounding success, Nerf has spread to all manner of sports equipment and foam "weapons": even nerf guns!
A vast empire of bean-filled animals, both real and imaginary, Beanie Babies were one of the hottest trends of the '90s. Although the days of $1,000 back channel beanies may be over, the brand is alive and well, pumping out different members of the multi-hued menagerie to delight children young and old.
Well, it's a rock. Ahead of its team in terms of irony and post-modernism, the pet rock was indeed a rock, and thus did not need any of the care associated with a normal, living pet. That it saw any success at all probably says something about the '70s!
Humans are natural mimics, so it is no surprised that Simon was as well received as it was. Still available today, the game had players copy an increasingly long randomized pattern of lights and sounds. Miss a beat, and you're out!
A potato-shaped doll with a bucket full of different mix and match parts, Mr. Potato Head was a great choice for family friendly fun. He even had his own TV program, the "The Mr. Potato Head show."
Although it came comparatively late to market, the Super Nintendo was the unquestioned king of the 16-bit era of video game consoles. It was known in Japan as the Super Famicom (family computer) and continued to use the popular game cartridge storage media.
The stuff dreams were made of, The Sega Dreamcast outperformed its most signifiant competitor, the Sony Playstation, by a significant degree. Unfortunately, sales were not up to expectations as customers waited for the Playstation 2, which Sony promised would be more powerful still.
Beautifully wrought, the American Girl dolls were noted for their premium craftmanship, diversity and, unfortunately, high price. The $100+ cost of entry only got steeper when you consider accessories, which further increased the price beyond what many could afford.
An immensely popular toy upon its release, Tickle Me Elmo is a doll of Elmo from "Sesame Street," with some added robotic features, like the ability to laugh when tickled. Speculative buying made this one a tough toy to get a hand on at Christmas!
Based on the Japanese, "Beast Wars," show, the Transformers were robot warriors who transformed from robots into vehicles. The heroic robots became cars and trucks, and the villainous ones became planes and a variety of other objects.
A collection of aluminum powder is trapped in a plastic red frame- you tilt the knobs to move a stylus across it, and voila! The Etch-a-Sketch! Similar principles were used to create early computer printers.
An Americanized version of the Japanese TV show, "Macross," Robotech saw transforming jet fighters battle invading aliens. The show was, like Transformers and Thundercats, unusual in that it represented Japanese-made animation being shown on American TV.
A popular line of dog dolls, Pound Puppies were notable for having long, droopy ears and sad eyes. Like many similar toy lines, Pound Puppies had its own kids cartoon, which was revived in 2010.
A multimedia toy empire, GI Joe saw a group of diverse military heroes battle against the terrorist organization, COBRA. The action figure line that accompanied the cartoon was extremely popular, as were the legions of plastic vehicles and playsets sold alongside them.
Mastermind consists of a plastic frame with holes running across it. Players insert pegs into the holes in order to break their opponent's code, each peg narrowing down a set of possible values. One player is the codemaker and the other the codebreaker, making it a rare example of asymmetric gameplay.
Filled with gel, Stretch Armstrong was a doll of a muscled male figure whose unique feature was the ability to stretch and twist his limbs. The doll was the stereotypical "All-American Blond Hunk" and was made of latex rubber.
A board game by Milton Bradley, Don't Break the Ice consists of a sheet of plastic "Ice" blocks atop which a man precariously is perched. The players take swings at the ice with plastic mallets, and the loser is the one who causes it to break completely, sending the man to his doom!
A rare example of an American tokusatsu (a live action drama featuring crazy special effects) , the Japan-inspired Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers followed a group of American teenagers who would transform to battle giant monsters. Each ranger had its own specialty and power set.
A 3D puzzle that involves twisting a cube to match colors on all sides, this simple toy has shown enduring popularity. Once the heuristic for solving it is mastered, Cubers can challenge each other to solve it faster!
The Lite Brite is a box filled with holes for multicolored pegs. The pegs, which are translucent, are placed in the holes and the backdrop is illuminated, creating a colorful tableau. While it was most fun when done free-form, you could also use templates to create a set design.
The Magic 8-ball is a cross between a seer's crystal ball and an 8-ball from pool, with a small screen on which, upon being shaken, messages are displayed. It's great for family fun, guessing who has a crush on you, or investment advice! OK, maybe not investment advice.
Japan's Mobile Suit Gundam created an entire sub genre of pseudo-realistic, dramatic, giant robot science fiction. These robots are typically referred to as "real robots," to contrast them with the earlier style of robot science fiction, which was largely fantastical or whimsical in nature.
A handheld console created an empire, and it all started with Nintendo's Pokemon Red and Blue for the Nintendo Game Boy. These games saw the players search a fantasy world for 150 distinct Pokemon (pocket monsters), but it had a catch: some of them were only available in the opposite color game! This encouraged players to trade with their friends, a tradition that continues in Pokemon games today!
Micronauts were a line of tiny robot toys, sold in the '70s. What set them apart from similar toys was their many points of motion, allowing them to take many more poses than similar, less quality toys.