From Transformers to Care Bears: The 10 best toys of the 1980s

In a decade of excess, the toy landscape was also revolutionised. From Zoids to My Little Pony, playtime would never be the same again
Micro Machines

In the 1980s, home computers had rubber keys, 98 per cent of all music was composed on a single synthesiser in a dingy London studio, and there were only four UK TV channels. But the toys were brilliant. At Stuff HQ, we racked our brains to come up with a list of the very best.

A quick note, Star Wars and Big Trak fans — those toys were 1970s lines, so didn’t make the cut. Teddy Ruxpin, on the other hand, was omitted because he was rubbish. But do you otherwise disagree with our list? Feel free to say so in the comments while lobbing rose-tinted specs through our office windows.

Image credit: avometrical

1. Transformers (First appearance: 1984)


Parents thought they were clever when buying ‘robots in disguise’. Two toys for the price of one! Robots that changed into cars, fighter jets and also surprisingly large cassettes, hinting at a very slight problem with scale!

Kids didn’t care — they were busy having robots punch each other in the face, only occasionally wondering why Heroic Autobot leader Optimus Prime was so bloody earnest in the cartoon and prone to killing himself in the comic.

Eventually, Transformers succumbed to stupid gimmicks, disappearing up its own backside with a line of non-transforming Transformers. But the concept lived on, repeatedly relaunched until Michael Bay discovered it, creating the most expensive and explosive toy commercials in history for the big screen.

Image credit: Rob Boudon