10 Toys That Prove the 1980s Were Insane
The late ’80s were…an odd time.
Few things were as odd as the toys from this era. With seemingly random franchises like TMNT, He-Man, Transformers and Garbage Pail Kids capturing the imagination of kids, toy manufactories were content with jamming any random two things together…or just making them gross…in order to strike gold. Let’s take a look.
Well, we’ve got robots turning into cars, planes, guns, spaceships…obviously ROCKS are the next logical step! This is a spin-off from the Go-Bots, yet somehow misses the part where they’re fun. The robots turn into different types of rock and then they do exactly what rocks do. They sit there. Gotta feel sorry for the poor folk who had the job of turning it into a cartoon series to sell the dopey things.
Because food fight, get it? In a bit to anthropomorphise everything in order to turn it into Saturday Morning cartoon, someone produced these horrors. They are seriously ugly characters. Usually you can tell the good guys from the bad through colour scheme or friendly design, but these are all so repulsive they had to give them matching hats so we know who’s on which side.
This is what we meant when we said that some toy companies just went for gross. These were weird things to see on the shelf next to Barbie and the Wuzzles. They tried to come up with characters and stories, and you could buy bodies for the heads to go on, and basketball rings so they could dunk their own heads. Like many toy lines from the era they kinda shot themselves in the foot with the ick factor.
Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light
Here’s one that hit the ground running with action figures, an animated series and a comic tie-in. Those hologram sticker thingies had just caught on and toy companies went a bit nutso trying to cash in. The idea was that the wizard ‘Merklynn’ (yes, Merklynn) imbued each knight with an animal totem that they could turn into. Once you got over the hologram, or the damned thing fell off, you were left with a garish looking dude who just looks…I don’t even know how to describe that.
Did you say holograms? And vague racism? These stereotypical looking fellas had a hologram face AND each came with a hologram ghost buddy. These really were all about the holograms plain and simple. In regards to the narrtive, the leader of the good guys was called ‘Lionheart’ and the bad guys ‘Skull’. The imagination runneth over.
Now we’re back to gross. ‘Boglins’ were weird, rubbery hand puppets who all looked kind of the same and looked…ugly. For some reason this was considered a big selling point in this era. The smartest thing about Boglins’ was the cage boxes they came in. That was it.
Oh, Rankin-Bass…no-one wanted to make the next Transformers as much as you. The show (and toy line) was about humans who, with the use of a special device, would transform into awkward looking marine/human hybrids. Then they would battle Waterians on the planet WaterO. If dolphin man in the back row doesn’t explain why this failed, nothing will.
These two-inch tall warriors whose vehicles and bases would transforms into innocuous items you’d find on a desk, like a computer, motherboards, a pencil sharpener and…a can of Pepsi? A small soccer ball? Yeah, this one was all about mixing Transformers with the growing home computer fad to weird results. Yes, one of them really did transform into a Pepsi can.
Army Ants, Bugmen of Insecta and Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbion
These ones are getting grouped together because why the fascination with insects? During roughly the same time we got three different toy lines based around humanoid insects, like someone was trying to push their own, unique fetish on the world. ‘Army Ants’ were small, basic figures not unlike ‘Monsters in My Pocket’, and weren’t very interactive. The ‘Bugmen of Insecta’ (genius) we’re another ‘TMNT’ wannabe and are only notable for one making a cameo in Toy Story 3. ‘Sectaurs’ went heavy with the mythology and back story but all wound up looking more or less the same and became a stand-in villain for other, better toy lines.
The Incredible Crash Test Dummies
My mother wouldn’t let us buy these toys…and with good reason. What the living fuck. Before somebody ‘um, actually…’ in the comments, yes these came out in 1990. But close enough, because these things are the culmination of 1980s insanity in the toy shops. They are, of course, sentient crash test dummies that have personalities and friends and families and then you put them into a car and slam them into the wall and watch the bits fly everywhere. They got an animated series and a SNES game and at no point did someone stop and say “hey…this is kinda fucked up”.
Not even when they release a cat and dog that could literally be flattened into roadkill.
Nope. Not even when they introduced a BABY to the series that can be propelled out of his baby seat. This is the reason we had to start being politically correct in the 90s people. Because we could be trusted without it.